From a young age, Jo’s instincts were to protect all animals regardless of the species. Whether it was saving snails in her back garden or choosing to be vegan, the choices she made in her personal life were inspired by a deep compassion for animals and a desire to make the world a better place for all of them.
Jo was always destined to become an advocate for animals. After leaving school, she completed a degree in Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Biology at Anglia Ruskin University before embarking on a career in the animal welfare charity sector. Through her work with World Society for the Protection of Animals (now World Animal Protection), OceanCare and later the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Jo developed a reputation for vision, strategy and her trademark ‘quiet leadership’. These skills, combined with her unwavering compassion, determined spirit and a selflessness that kept animals at the heart of everything she did, gained Jo her international reputation as a highly respected and effective animal welfare campaigner and lobbyist.
Jo was a passionate advocate for the protection of all animals, and her achievements over her short career greatly reduced animal suffering and death around the world. Amongst her key achievements, Jo co-founded the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI); achieved policy changes at the UN to reduce marine litter and in particular Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG); helped expose the commercial sale of whalemeat in Greenland, attended meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) where she helped frame the Commission’s first holistic Animal Welfare Action Plan; led the development of a strategic plan to address marine bushmeat in West Africa; and played a pivotal role in exposing the cruelty behind the civet coffee industry.
Jo understood that all change starts with individual choice and that each choice has a lasting impact, positive or negative, on the health of our planet, the well-being of animals and the inter-connected fate of our own species. Jo made the choice to dedicate her personal and professional life to the protection of animals and the prevention of animal suffering.
Sadly, in March 2019 Jo lost her life whilst on her way to the represent the FAO at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, on board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.
The Joanna Toole Foundation has been set up to continue Jo’s work, calling on her spirit of compassion, determination, selflessness and ‘quiet leadership’ for the protection of all animals and the world they live in.