Jessica McKelson is Founder Director of Raw Wildlife Encounters. She began her career as Supervisor Primates at Melbourne Zoo, where she has worked since 2000–2013. Jessica developed a deep passion for animal conservation during a confronting visit to Indonesia’s orangutan habitats in 2003.
In 2006, she was the youngest Australian to be awarded the International Specialised Skills Institute (ISSI) Fellowship funded by The Pratt Foundation. This enabled her to travel for four months in Indonesia studying and evaluating conservation programs, and working with leading conservationists to develop key skills that would assist her as she continued with her long-term work in Indonesia.
For the past 4 years, Jessica McKelson’s role has been the Quarantine Supervisor for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), based in North Sumatra, Indonesia. She oversees the management of the orangutans from the time they are confiscated to the time they are released back to the wild. Jessica also has a strong role with SOCP International Operations and is often working closely with major sponsors/donors, developing key campaigns for targeted projects and fundraising programs. She is also working on the SOCP Orangutan Haven, a 48ha newly designed conservation education centre, for non-releasable orangutans. Jessica is also a Board Member for The Orangutan Project (TOP).