14 Sep 2010

Dr Mark Pilgrim, currently the zoo’s Director of Conservation and Education, will take up the role of Director General on the 1st October.åÊ He takes over from Prof Gordon McGregor Reid, who is stepping down after 18 years in the zoo and 15 years at the helm.

Mark will be joined by Barbara Smith who will take on the newly-created position of Managing Director. Barbara is Executive Manager at Edinburgh Castle and will start at the zoo on October 25.

Prof Peter Wheeler, chairman of the Trustees of NEZS, the charitable body that runs Chester Zoo, said: ‰ÛÏWe are extremely pleased to have appointed a team with the expertise and experience to continue the development of the zoo as a world-class visitor attraction and increase the impact of our internationally important conservation work. We wish Mark and Barbara every success in their new posts and know that they have the skills and vision to drive the zoo forward.‰Û

Mark, 46, a father-of-three from Leeswood, near Mold, joined the zoo in 1988 as a bird keeper and has subsequently held curatorial and managerial roles. He is well known and respected in the international zoo community and is a Council Member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Mark is also the European studbook holder for Black rhinos, Equadorian Amazon parrots and Jaguars.

Mark said: ‰ÛÏI have a passion for Chester Zoo and for wildlife conservation and am absolutely delighted to become Director General. I am as much a people person as I am an animal person and value the zoo’s dedicated and talented staff. With them and alongside Barbara, I am very much looking forward to entering this new chapter that will take the zoo and its conservation work into a new era.‰Û

Barbara, a mother of three, joined Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s premier visitor attraction, in 2000 and has overseen a 10 year development plan which included a series of high-profile projects designed to enhance the experience for visitors to the castle.

She also chaired Edinburgh Tourism Action Group between 2007 and 2009, fostering strong links between the private and public sectors. Previously Barbara was manager of Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium.

Barbara said: ‰ÛÏI am very much looking forward to working with Mark and the wider dedicated zoo team to develop the zoo’s ambitious plans for the future.‰Û

Prof Reid welcomed both appointments and said he was leaving the Zoo in good hands.

‰ÛÏI have had the pleasure of working with Mark for 18 years and in that time, I have seen him develop into the person he is today: someone with the strength, vision, character and talent to lead Chester Zoo into the next very exciting phase of its development.

‰ÛÏIn Barbara, the zoo will have a strong, capable and experienced Managing Director and together Mark and Barbara will continue to build on the Zoo’s success. I wish them both well.‰Û