About Brian

Brian Keating: Conservation Advisor and Explorer

Brian’s previous job at the Zoo was to raise money and then to spend it on environmental projects around the world. Presently, he’s the Zoo’s Honorary Conservation Advisor to their outreach efforts, a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the U of C, and the co-director of www.greatBIGnature.com

He’s been leading groups on nature-based travel for over three decades, exploring some of the best wildlife areas on the planet. He’s a weekly guest on Calgary’s CBC Radio, and frequently appears on other media outlets. He’s in high demand as an international speaker, presenting at some 40 events a year.

Brian’s a pilot, a naturalist, a scuba diver, a mountaineer, and the author of five children’s books celebrating nature. He’s an honorary chief of a West African village that supports a hippo sanctuary.

Brian has been presented with the distinguished “Canadian Hero of the Year” award (Reader’s Digest Magazine); an Honorary Doctor of Science degree (Brandon University 2009); an Honorary Doctor of Laws (University of Calgary 2011); and the "Stan Hodgkiss Canadian Outdoors person of the Year Award" (Canadian Nature Federation 2017). All four accolades were presented in recognition of his global environmental efforts.

Brian was recently inducted as a "Fellow" into The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2016), and in 2020, received their “Louie Kamookak Medal” for making Canada better known to Canadians and the World.

That year, he also received the “Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal” for his service to the natural world.

Finally, the "Brian Keating Conservation Endowment Fund," named in his honour (2017), presently has accumulated three million dollars. The annual interest from this fund will be used to support conservation outreach efforts worldwide.

His wife, Dee, is a physician and keen naturalist who always joins him on his adventures.

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  • 2017: Renamed in his honour, the Calgary Zoo’s “Brian Keating Conservation Endowment Fund.” The one million dollars (that Brian had initially raised for the fund during his employment with the Zoo) will be matched up to an additional one million
  • 2017: The Canadian Nature Federation’s “Stan Hodgkiss Canadian Outdoors person of the Year Award,” presented in Montreal, in recognition of Canadian outdoors people who have demonstrated an active commitment to conservation
  • 2016: Elected as a “Fellow,” The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
  • 2012: Western Legacy Award, recognized 100 Outstanding Albertans
  • 2011: “Honorary Conservation Advisor” title and Life Membership award, Calgary Zoological Society
  • 2011: “Honorary Doctor of Laws,” awarded from the University of Calgary, for being “an observer, steward, and champion of natural wonders whose exuberance, love of beauty, generosity of spirit and genius for communication have dared us to apprehend, to imagine, and possibly then, to comprehend the glorious plenitude of nature … to teach us about the world’s astonishing, fragile biodiversity and the need to conserve it”
  • 2009: “Honorary Doctor of Science,” awarded from Brandon University in Manitoba, for his distinguished role as a public educator and his environmental efforts
  • 2007: “Honorary Chief of Dompie” (a village in Ghana), awarded at a powerful ceremony due to his efforts in raising the necessary funds to develop a nature sanctuary
  • 2006: “Canadian Hero of the Year” award from Reader's Digest Magazine for his global environmental efforts
  • 2006: Presented “Alberta Centennial Medal Award” in recognition of “outstanding work for the communities and province of Alberta”
  • 2005: “One Of The Top Ten Contemporary Calgarians” as voted by the students of the Calgary Board Of Education
  • 2003: Alberta film industry award for “Best Host” on his hour-long Discovery TV documentary “Planet Zoo”
  • 2003: The “Integrity Award” by the Rotary Club of Calgary (Olympic Club)
  • 2002: “The Distinguished Public Education Award” from the Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs
  • 1993: Emerald Award, a provincial environmental award from The Alberta Foundation for Environmental Excellence