Dr Tara Pirie
Academic and research departmentsSchool of Biosciences.
Although I graduated as a Zoologist I only returned to academia relatively recently after completing my PhD on leopard and carnivore conservation in South Africa. Before this, I was a zookeeper working with a wide range of species including white rhino, Sumatran and Amur tigers, as well as many lemur and kangaroo species. As much as I enjoyed it, I wanted to gain experience with animals in the wild, so I trained as a safari guide in South Africa.
I worked in the stunning Waterberg and the world-famous Sabi Sands, in the Greater Kruger National Park, where I observed and interpreted all aspects of the African bush from animal and plant life to geology and astronomy. After a decade of living and working in South Africa, I returned to the UK and took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Reading where I studied UK domestic cat ranging and hunting behaviour which has sparked debate since being highlighted in the press in 2022.
Aside from the research I taught undergraduates, assisted postgraduates and was also an assistant curator for the Cole Museum of Zoology. I helped with the enormous task of moving the natural history museum to a new location and was involved in redesigning the new museum. I took up the ecology lecturer post here at the University of Surrey in January where I look forward to teaching, learning, and collaborating to aid progression toward a more sustainable future for everyone. I am also the Hedgehog Champion for the University so if you would like to be in the Hedgehog working group please contact me!