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June 2019

Joanna Toole stands in an orange waterproof coat and jeans collecting beach debris in a yellow plastic bucket

Joanna Toole

BSc Hons Animal Behaviour & Wildlife Biology 2004

1.  Tell us about Joanna. 

My daughter Joanna Toole died on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that crashed on its way from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on March 10th, 2019. Joanna was a campaigner, latterly working for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on ocean debris issues, specifically on guidelines for the marking of fishing gear. Those who had the privilege of knowing Jo knew her not only as extraordinarily devoted to her work, but also as a supremely warm and wonderful human being. Her dedication to her work on animal welfare with World Animal Protection and OceanCare and her work on critical ocean issues with FAO was topped only by her love for her friends, family and colleagues. Joanna was en route to the United Nations Environment Assembly where she was scheduled to speak on a panel co-chaired by the FAO and Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) about sea-based sources of marine litter. Joanna invariably turned colleagues into friends so those who knew her are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible tragedy and the world has lost one of its great ocean and animal welfare champions. Her sudden and tragic loss will be felt across the ocean community for many years to come but aided by the founding of a charity in her name, others will continue the important work that Jo started.  

2.  What is your fondest memory of her?

How pleased she was to be cooking the vegan food for her grandmother's 90th birthday party. 

3.  What did Joanna do after leaving Anglia Ruskin University? 

After getting her degree in Animal Behaviour, Joanna worked for a while for Animal Defenders International on, as I remember it, captive animal issues. The next job was with World Society for the Protection of Animals (later World Animal Protection), where under the management of Claire Bass, Joanna started on marine campaigns.  

4.  In one word, how would you describe Joanna?


5.  How did her time at ARU help her? 

It taught her that science was behind animal welfare issues. 

6.  What did Joanna love about her chosen course?

The variety of subjects. I well remember the £90 price tag for the textbook on guenon monkeys she needed for one project! 

7.  Who was the biggest influence on her career?

Sir David Attenborough