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Brian Keating will be the featured guest at the
first annual Kerby Cares Gala Fundraiser on March 13.
By Kathleen Burke
It's a bleak snowy morning in Calgary, but Brian Keating bounds into the coffee house, dressed in cycling gear with a cheery smile on his face, ready to talk about his passions: nature and conservation. It's enough to make anyone feel brighter.
Keating has always loved the outdoors. Spending his childhood playing in the countryside, Keating became a birdwatcher at the age of 12. Almost 50 years later, he's turned that early love of the outdoors into becoming an internationally renowned conservationist, traveler and inspirational speaker. He's received numerous awards for his work in the area of conservation, including honourary doctor ates from the Universities of Manitoba and Calgary. In 2006, Reader's Digest magazine named him Canadian Hero of the Year for his global environmental efforts.
In his own words, he's also "a pilot, naturalist, scuba diver, and mountaineer" who recently scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. In addition, he's a keen photographer and videographer. In fact, it might be easier to say what Keating does not do, rather than try to cover all his varied interests.
For 20 years, Keating was the Head of Conservation Outreach at the Calgary Zoo, a position which allowed him to travel all over the world, and enabled him to raise money to be spent on global environmental and conservation projects, including the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary, which is home to one of only two hippo populations remaining in Ghana, Africa. In 2007, he was rewarded for his efforts in raising funds for this conservation project by being made an "Honourary Chief "of Dompie, the village which is the gateway to the hippo sanctuary.
In 2011, he decided it was "time to move on," although he retains a connection to the zoo as Honourary Conservation Advisor. His decision to move on was not the cue for retirement, however; in fact, he's as busy today as he was in the earlier part of his life. It's difficult to pin down the many sides of this entrancing man's life and interests, although they're all geared to his passion for nature.
He's a travel organizer and leader; an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary; he can be heard regularly on CBC Radio; he has a fascinating website www.goingwild.org with some great nature videos (you '11 be entranced by the busy beavers on the home page), and is trying to develop his own television show. In addition, he's written five children's books designed to help children get in touch with nature. "I grew up next to a 20-acre forest and that's where I spent a lot of my childhood," said Keating.
..... (continues in the February 2015 issue of Kerby News)