About Koen

Koen in nature Koen with Jane

Early Years

I was born in a rural village in Belgium in 1968. As a child, I was fascinated with animals and have fond memories of our family dog Arpad. Living in an agricultural area, I grew up amongst farm animals. Those early connections with different animals had a profound impact on me.

Academic Work

Later, I completed a Ph.D in Moral Philosophy on the moral status of great apes at Ghent University. For the past twenty years, I have been presenting lectures and writing about animal ethics and am a Guest Professor at various universities. I volunteer for the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences of Ghent University. I am the author of a book titled The Welfare Ark: Suggestions for a Renewed Policy for Zoos (2000) and currently writing a book on great apes. In my ‘day job’, I wear the hat of Senior IT Training Manager for an international law firm.

Dr. Jane Goodall

I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Jane Goodall and volunteering for the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) since 1995. Like Jane Goodall, I genuinely believe in the importance of dialogue, building bridges and share the same belief that every individual matters. Together with Prof. Dr. Marc Bekoff, I am Co-chair of the Global Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute, advising Jane Goodall and some thirty JGI branches, otherwise known as ‘chapters’, around the globe on a wide variety of ethical topics. Together with Australian author and journalist Melody Horrill, I Co-chair the Jane Goodall Institute’s Cetacean Committee which aims to phase out the keeping of dolphins and other cetaceans in captivity. Instead, we endeavor to bring these wonderful animals to spacious, natural and varied seaside sanctuaries. We also support the work of other marine conservation organisations around the world.

Life at home

My expanded family includes wife Iris, our daughters Mana and Fara, dog Lola, rescued cats Lotte and Quinn and four chickens. We live in the green hills surrounding Leuven, a small University town in Belgium. I love finding peace of mind by riding my mountain bike through the forest. Besides my passion for ethics, zoology, anthropology and psychology, I have a soft spot for the movies of Quentin Tarantino and I love the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Neil Young.

Bertem Bos Koen's family