From holding his first crocodile when he was four years old to digging for earthworms in the school playground, Yussef has had a passion for natural history for as long as he can remember. Although he grew up in Britain, he spent many school holidays in his father’s home country of Morocco, and has fond memories of chasing dung beetles on the beach and searching for scorpions in the Sahara desert. His fascination for all living things just snowballed as he grew up, and eventually led to him studying BSc Zoology at university.
Whilst at university, Yussef travelled to South Africa to study leopard population dynamics, and worked alongside Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in studying their troop of western lowland gorillas. British wildlife however will always hold a special place in his heart, particularly our species that are threatened with conservation concern. This was one of the reasons why he decided to investigate the factors affecting urban hedgehog population decline in the UK for his undergraduate dissertation.
After graduating in 2017, Yussef went on to work as a zookeeper, where he gained hands on experience working with some of the most weird and wonderful animals on the planet! One of his roles was to present the daily educational talks and handling sessions, where he used everything from snakes and tarantulas to skunks and armadillos.
Although his audiences included people of all ages, Yussef particularly hoped to inspire the younger generations, because one of his biggest aims is to help make wildlife conservation relevant and mainstream among people of his age group.
Yussef began his presenting career online, creating engaging content for his Instagram and YouTube pages, the former of which he has amassed a following of over 10,000 people. He is a big believer in using social media as a tool for science communication, and uses his platform and fun presenting methods as a way to captivate his audience. He particularly enjoys talking about the “little guys” whether that be the mussels in our waterways or the snails in our gardens – and why they are equally as important to our environment as the big, popular animals.
Although only at the beginning of his career, Yussef has already screen-tested with CBBC, collaborated with and created online content for organisations such as The Wildlife Trusts, and has just had his first article published in Wildlife Watch, The Wildlife Trusts’ youth magazine.