Style Observer

Cocktails With– Rebecca Harper

Sunday, May 07, 2017

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It's an otherwise damp Tuesday, and post-afternoon rainfall, Rebecca Harper is welcoming us for drinks and convo at The Hope Zoo's drink and dining space, The Serengeti Bistro. As general manager of the Zoo, Harper's balancing act veers between ensuring the facility runs as a well-oiled machine and bringing in consistent and new business. These are tasks she doesn't take lightly, and on the slate of upcoming marketing activities she's engineering at the zoo are soon-to-debut camping-out nights, dinner theatre, and movie nights for families. The hyper-busy Harper slows down – just a tad – to let us in on the latest, with a boa constrictor curled around her neck... just because.What cocktail are you sipping?

I'm having The Ball Python, one of our signature drinks served at our on-property bistro Serengeti. It's made with Bailey's Irish Cream, Appleton Rum, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

The Hope Zoo has undergone a significant facelift. As the facility's general manager, what are you proudest to report?

Kenneth Benjamin and the Guardsman Group have put their hearts, minds, finances and passion in renovating the nation's zoo for the past five years. Since I became general manager in the past year I have just been working on bringing others on board to support our vision to make the zoo the premier family venue and to help our country's social development by teaching everyone who comes to the zoo our motto: Love Them, Respect Them, Accept Them and Protect Them, by which we do not only mean our animals but each other and especially our children. The programme I am proudest of is developing the izoocycle programme which was funded by JSIF and Petro Caribe. They funded 10,000 students, teachers, special needs and at-risk youth to come to the zoo. In return for free entrance, they all had to bring plastic bottles. We were so happy with the success of the pilot we extended the programme to the end of April, to families and other schools not in the programme. Then GraceKennedy Financial Services came on board and added 500 more students and the activity of taking one bottle and teaching the kids to make a saving bank to save their coins in. Within the last four months we collected over 400,000 bottles.

Is feminism a dirty word in politically correct times?

We live in a country where our women are strong. They are mostly head of households and mostly managers in the workplace. I think we do not need to enforce our strength through feminism. We just lead with strength.

If you were to be reincarnated as an animal from the Hope Zoo, which would it be?

Without question, a zebra. Zebras are unique; their stripes are like a human's fingerprints. But when they join together they all look like one to the predator. A lot like our motto: out of many, one people. I am unique but believe I belong to a nation.

The absolute best days are...

When I get to work with the children and I see the pride in their faces, when they hold their heads higher knowing they are conservation heroes, they cleaned the environment and saved our animals in the wild. Also, when I get to interact with the animals.

My Achilles heel is….

My greatest strength is my greatest weakness. I love to work and work fast; I expect others to work at my pace.

In addition to your day job, you moonlight as a radio broadcaster. What dream programme would you create and produce if given the opportunity to have one syndicated in every country and translated in every language?

I love my show now, Parent to Parent on RJR. It actually has a great following and no matter where I go, especially at the zoo, I meet parents every day who say how much I help them.

What's your go-to album when you need to take a five?

Tessane Chin's Count on My Love. My ring tone is Always Tomorrow. Times are hard but there is always tomorrow which is a new day.

What are the life lessons learnt in your 40s that you wished you could have prepared the 20-year-old you?

No matter how hard life beats you down, you can survive anything that can happen to you; learn from it and you will become stronger. Never Give Up, be creative and believe all things are possible. With a good education, hard work and integrity, you can come from nothing and achieve everything.

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