Jersey Zoo boss to leave amid allegations of a 'toxic culture' and animal welfare concerns

Dr Lesley Dickie took over as Durrell's CEO in 2016 and has been credited with boosting visitor numbers and growing profits. Credit: ITV Channel

Jersey Zoo's boss, Dr Lesley Dickie, has resigned amid allegations of a "toxic culture" within the organisation and concerns from former staff about animal welfare.

She joined as CEO of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2016 and has been credited with transforming the organisation, introducing its "Rewilding" campaign and growing profits by 77%, from £6.9 million in 2016 to £12.2 million in 2022.

Jersey Zoo was established by Gerald Durrell in 1959 and has since become one of the island's most famous tourist attractions.

But recently, the organisation has come under criticism after a former employee alleged bullying and unsafe conditions were commonplace - something bosses strenuously denied.

In a statement, the trust said: "Prior to 2016, there were concerns that Jersey Zoo would have to close due to falling visitor numbers and their impact on the financial stability of the trust.

"Under Dr Dickie’s tenure, visitor numbers in 2019 reached their highest in nearly 20 years and the team is now rebuilding visitor numbers again post-Covid. More recently, Jersey Zoo has been recognised by TripAdvisor as one of their top 10% of attractions worldwide."

It goes on to say that Durrell's Board of Trustees and senior management team have thanked Dr Dickie for her leadership and they "wish her well in the next chapter of her career".

She is expected to remain in post until November 2023 when the organisation's Finance Director, Rebecca Brewer, will take over as interim CEO.

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