Marilyn and Jonathan Baillie talk about how to save a species
Written by Marilyn Baillie, an award-winning children’s book author and her son, Dr. Jonathan Baillie, a Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London.
As a young child, my family summered by a pristine northern lake, snug in the coal oil-lit cabin that my dad built. My brothers and I spent endless carefree hours in the woods, making our own fun, surrounded by a variety of insects and forest birds. Did it start then… the understanding that all living things, including me, are part of a complex puzzle, each tiny piece interrelated? I continue to feel wonder and awe in a forest. I hope this passion, fascination and concern for nature spills into all my children’s books, inspiring the same awe in young readers that I have witnessed in my own children, like my son, Jonathan, and grandchildren.
Spending summers canoeing on Georgina Bay instilled in me both a respect and appreciation for the natural world. At university, my first interest was animal behaviour, but as I observed the decline of many of the species I was studying, I became more interested in pursuing a career in conservation science. My first internship was at the IUCN World Conservation Union where I helped compile a list of the world’s most threatened species (the IUCN Red List). I came to realize just how many unusual and wonderful species were on the verge of extinction. Some, like the pygmy sloth or Attenborough’s pitcher plant, were so rare that no one knew much about how to save them. I now oversee conservation projects in over 50 countries. Never give up — society needs committed conservationists more than ever.
With Ellen Butcher, Marilyn and Dr. Jonathan Baillie are the authors of How to Save a Species for ages 8–12, available now from Owlkids Books.