Bill always dreamed of being an ornithologist and working for the Zoological Society of San Diego. He started applying for jobs when he was 8 years old. Hired to pick up trash when he was 16, Bill spent his time at work quietly observing birds and their behavior. He left to study causes of reproductive failure in endangered birds. In 1979, Bill graduated with a master’s degree from the University of California where his work focused on the reproductive behavior of the highly endangered California condor. He was hired by the Zoological Society of San Diego and was simultaneously appointed to the federally mandated California Condor Recovery Team
After rising through the ranks to the level of Curator of Birds, Bill became disillusioned by traditional efforts in conservation. He was allowed to launch a new division in Applied Conservation and ultimately left the zoo as the Director of Applied Conservation Programs. In each of these positions he traveled extensively and ultimately worked in over 30 countries including Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Paraguay, Cameroon and Madagascar. He worked with animal species from the birds of paradise, iguanas, Chacoan peccaries, giant armadillos, elephants and gorillas.
Through all this work there seemed to be an association between impoverished resources and impoverished people. Hoping to find a more successful path in conservation Bill co-founded ECOLIFE Conservation in 2003. In 2008, Bill resigned from the zoo to devote full-time effort to seeing ECOLIFE succeed.
By Bill Toone in Our Blog