Philip Esseen

Curator of Botany & Horticulture

  • Qualifications BSc. BLD. CMLI
  • Focus area
    Places Populations
  • Location
    At the Zoo Madagascar and the Mascarenes South East Asia UK & Europe

I have enjoyed working with plants all my life, initially graduating with a degree in Botany from Manchester University, followed by a degree in Landscape Design. Since then, I have worked as a Landscape Architect, Nature Conservation Officer, and Parks Manager.

I have worked on large land reclamation and habitat restoration schemes in the UK, and explored the relationships between plants, landscape and people. In my current position, I am able to add animals into the equation!

I joined Chester Zoo as Curator of Botany and Horticulture in 2015. My role involves managing the gardens and parts of the wider estate, curating the plant collection, ensuring the zoo plays an increasingly active role in plant conservation, and advising on plant selection and design for enclosures. The zoo specialises in maintaining large collections of Nepenthes, Pleurothallidinae orchids, and cacti (particularly Copiapoa, Matucana and Turbinicarpus), and I manage the National Plant Collections of these five taxa. The team also works on a number of projects involving the conservation of native plant species, including black poplar, Llangollen whitebeam and limestone woundwort, and has developed and manage the Chester Zoo Nature Reserve.

I am a chartered member of the Landscape Institute and a member of the Steering Group of the BIAZA Plant Working Group.

Key Publications

Bird, S. A., Esseen, P. J. & Hewitt, R. (2017): Reintroductions of native plant species to the United Kingdom. International Zoo Yearbook 51: 32–49.