Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bristol Zoo director announces his retirement

Bristol Zoo director announces his retirement

The Director of Bristol Zoo Gardens, Dr Jo Gipps, has announced his plans to retire this summer.

Jo joined Bristol Zoo Gardens as Director in September 2001 and has overseen several major developments at the Zoo in that time, including the creation of Zona Brazil, Monkey Jungle, Butterfly Forest, and more recently, the opening of Explorers’ Creek and the high ropes adventure course, ZooRopia.

In recent years, Jo has led the planning and development process for the National Wildlife Conservation Park - a world-class, conservation-led animal visitor attraction planned for the northern outskirts of Bristol. He has also been instrumental in the launch of Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation – a conservation branch of Bristol Zoo, which carries out conservation action and research programmes in the wild.

Dr Gipps, who is 62, is due to leave the Zoo in August 2010 and the Zoo’s Trustees will appoint a new Director in the coming months.

Jo said: “I have loved working at Bristol Zoo, it has been absolutely the best nine years of my working life. There have been many amazing highlights and memorable events in that time and I am honoured to have been a part of the Bristol Zoo community. I will be very sorry to leave and will miss the Zoo deeply, but feel immensely proud that the people of Bristol have a city zoo that they value so highly. The Zoo’s staff and volunteers can also be hugely proud, as am I, to be part of the team that has created and sustained it.”

Despite being ultimately responsible for more than 450 different animal species at the Zoo, Jo said his favourite animals by far are the endangered golden headed lion tamarins. “They are without doubt the most beautiful animals in the world,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to see them in the wild and am proud to say that this species is a fantastic example of a zoo-supported conservation success story.”

Chair of Trustees for the Zoo, Martin Davies Jones, said: “During his nine years as Director of Bristol Zoo Gardens, Jo has made an enormous contribution to the preservation and enhancement of the Society's international reputation for excellence and conservation. In addition he has been central to the development of our new project, the National Wildlife Conservation Park, for which full detailed planning permission is expected very shortly. We thank him for all he has done for the Society and wish him well for the future.”

The Zoo and its staff have achieved a number of awards and accolades while Dr Gipps has been in post. In 2004, the Zoo was awarded ‘Zoo of the Year’ by the Good Britain Guide and in 2007 it won the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Wild Animal Welfare Award.

In 2008, the Zoo became the third zoo in the country to achieve the ISO14001 certification – the international standard for environmental management systems - and last year the Zoo won silver at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The Zoo has also won many awards for excellence every year at the annual zoo industry awards run by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA); and in 2006, Jo was awarded a lifetime achievement award by BIAZA.

Bristol Zoo also received a “first class” zoo license inspection report in December 2009, in which inspectors commended the Zoo for its very high standards of conservation, research and education provision and its continued commitment to first-class animal care.

Before arriving at Bristol Zoo, Dr Gipps worked at ZSL London Zoo for 13 years – first as Curator of Mammals, then as Senior Curator, and finally as Director between 1993 and 2001. In 2000 Jo was awarded an OBE.

Jo sits on the Council of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and chairs its Conservation & Sustainability Committee; he is also a Council member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He chairs the Advisory Committee of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the World Conservation Union and is a member of the WAZA/CBSG Climate Change Task Force Steering Committee.

For more information about Bristol Zoo Gardens visit the website at  or phone 0117 974 7300.

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