Autistic photographer becomes ambassador for zoological society

alfie bowen

Alfie found his passion for photography got him through the toughest of times. - Credit: Alfie Bowen

An inspirational autistic photographer from Beccles has been named as charity ambassador for the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZESA) to mark anti-bullying week.

Alfie Bowen, 23, was bullied throughout his school years but found solace in photography while connecting with nature during visits to Africa Alive in Suffolk and Banham Zoo in Norfolk.

He has since received critical acclaim for his work from wildlife experts Chris Packham and Sir David Attenborough and has published his debut photography book ‘Wild World: Nature Through an Autistic Eye’.

alfie bowne

Alfie has found the local zoos to be a safe space ever since he first visited when he was just two-years-old. - Credit: Alfie Bowen

To celebrate becoming a ZSEA ambassador, Mr Bowen hosted an exclusive book signing during anti-bullying week on Tuesday, November 16.

Mr Bowen said: "I have been a season ticket holder at these zoos for nearly 20 years, and they have played an important part in my journey, offering a safe space to express myself as a toddler with autism, a place to learn as an animal-obsessed child, and a place to take photographs.

"Each time I walk through the entrance it is like the flick of a switch - my anxiety disappears, and I am at my happiest.

“My appointment as a ZSEA ambassador is perhaps the proudest achievement of my career to date - it is time to give back to a charity that has given me so much, and I am looking forward to helping others discover the wonders of Africa Alive and Banham Zoo, and to making them the most welcoming and accepting zoos in the UK where everyone is free to be themselves."

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The announcement of Alfie becoming a ZSEA Ambassador is an exciting step forward in ZSEA’s commitment to becoming the UK’s first neuro-diverse zoo which aims to be inclusive to all.

claudia roberts

Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Commercial, Zoological Society of East Anglia. - Credit: Archant

Claudia Roberts, Chief Operating Officer at ZSEA, said: “When I first met Alfie and his grandfather at the start of the pandemic, it was evident that Alfie embodied the purpose of what we all do at ZSEA, connecting people in nature, and why we should work so hard to save the charity at that time.

“Now the charity is on a solid trajectory, what better way to celebrate and make a difference to more lives by asking Alfie to support our work as our ZSEA Ambassador and work together to help more people find peace through nature."