Durrell appoints new Chief Executive Officer

After an extensive search, Durrell, the global conservation organisation founded by the late Gerald Durrell, has appointed Dr Lesley Dickie as its new Chief Executive. Dr Dickie will take up her new role in Jersey in October.

Durrell's mission to save species from extinction is delivered through four main activities: field conservation, training, research and captive breeding, principally at the famous wildlife park based in Jersey. Durrell set out to find a leader with the experience and qualities necessary to leverage the talent and dedication of its people, thereby further increasing its positive impacts on species survival.

Dr Dickie began her career in zoos at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland as a records and zoo keeper at Edinburgh Zoo. After completing field work in Madagascar and finishing her doctorate she began working at the Zoological Society of London,

latterly as the Zoo Conservation Programme Manager. From 2008 to 2014 Lesley was the Executive Director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, based in Amsterdam, bringing in a number of strategic changes, particularly in developing a closer working relationship with the IUCN, as well as launching a research journal and training academy.

Phillip Callow, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Durrell, said "Given the crucial importance of this role to Durrell and to conservation, the search was extensive and attracted interest from around the world. The selection process was rigorous and delivered a high quality short list, but ultimately the Trustees were unanimous in their decision to appoint Lesley. She displayed the crucial mix of qualifications, experience and, importantly, the passion for Durrell that we were seeking in a CEO. The Board is

looking forward to working with Lesley as she brings her passion and experience to lead the organisation. This is an exciting time.”

Dr Lee Durrell, Honorary Director of Durrell, said “I couldn’t be more thrilled that Lesley Dickie will become Durrell’s next CEO. Her credentials in the zoo world are impeccable and her devotion to the conservation of species biodiversity is profound. She is a proven leader, has an engaging and tenacious personality and is blessed with an artistic

streak. Possessing a ‘wide spectrum mind’ was Gerald Durrell’s highest accolade, and Lesley certainly fits the bill! Kevin Keen will now step down as interim CEO, but he did so much more for Durrell than just ‘hold the reins’, and for this we are eternally grateful.”

Dr Dickie said 'I am delighted and honoured to be given this opportunity to lead Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. At its heart is Gerald Durrell’s zoo, the zoo that set the bar for all other zoos, the exemplar for what they could become, as training centres for global conservation, active in the wild far removed from the Wildlife Park itself, with conservation scientists creating greater understanding of what we need to do and concentrating on the animals most at risk. This place and its people, its history, make it extra special. I 'grew up' in zoos knowing all about Durrell and what it stood for, though sadly I never got the chance to meet Mr Durrell himself. It’s my intention to lead Durrell in a way that lives up to those aims, and moves forward in the 21st century, where what we do, saving species, is needed more than ever.’