Q&A with Wildlife Madagascar’s First Member from Asia: May Lok

Tell us a bit about yourself. How would someone you know describe you?

I am passionate about wildlife and have spent most of my career in conservation education. As an introvert, I love spending time in nature, either in Singapore or the region. I am always in my element when in green spaces.    

What do you love most about your career?

I feel very strongly about providing people with opportunities to connect with nature and appreciate wildlife as an integral part of the space we live in. It is a privilege for me to be able to do this in my career. In an urban country like Singapore, wildlife is surprisingly making a comeback, thanks to the years of conservation efforts. With this happy result comes the tension between humans and wildlife in a shared space on our tiny island, and the urgency to educate the public on how to live alongside native wildlife. I really feel privileged to be part of this solution. Being able to create wonderful memories for our guests and work on projects such as career guidance for youths at risk and wildlife-centric reading programs for underprivileged children are opportunities that I am extremely grateful for.   

What was a particularly memorable experience during your career?

To be a member of the planning committee for the world’s first Night Safari is my most treasured work experience. Back in the late 1980s, when I first joined Singapore Zoo, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the planning committee. As the youngest member, it was a steep learning curve for me, but I relished every moment of the journey and grew with it.    

What draws you to support wildlife conservation and education?

My greatest motivation is being able to connect people to wildlife and garner collective efforts for positive change. Neuro-diverse individuals and the underserved community benefit tremendously from wildlife and nature-themed experiences, and I am grateful to participate in curating some of these experiences for them.  

Who or what inspires you?

Dr. Ong Swee Law, our late Chairman, who pursued the impossible dream of developing Singapore Zoo next to our water catchment despite the reservations of our top political leader. Twenty years after founding Singapore Zoo, he chased the dream of creating the world’s first Night Safari. Daring to dream, Dr. Ong bore the hallmark of tenacity, perseverance, and conviction. He continues to inspire me, especially when the going gets tough.  

What book have you read or film have you seen that made a big impression on you?

When Breath Becomes Air – a heartbreaking yet completely beautiful memoir of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, and his life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death. This book brings to sharp focus that life can be taken away from us any time, and in our short time on Earth, we must try our best to make it a better place. It is a privilege to be able to contribute towards a healthier planet in the work that I do.   

Why did you become a member of Wildlife Madagascar? What about this organization is meaningful to you?

Wildlife Madagascar embodies the spirit of making positive change and delivering impact. I admire Debra for taking such a bold step in establishing Wildlife Madagascar, and being a member is my small way of supporting the wonderful conservation work that she and her team at Wildlife Madagascar do.