The future of the Zoo’s board to be voted on next month

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (37842064)

DURRELL members will vote on whether the charity’s board should resign at an Extraordinary General Meeting next month.

Members are also due to decide if an independent investigation should be carried out into the management of the Zoo.

The EGM, which will take place on Thursday 2 May at 6pm at the Freedom Centre, follows a formal request from 62 members, including some former staff, from a group called “We Love the Zoo”.

The resolution proposed for debate is:

“Because the members have lost confidence in the ability of the board of trustees of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to protect and maintain the legacy of Gerald Durrell, the board of trustees should resign and an independent investigation should be carried out into all aspects of the current and recent management’s running of the Zoo.”

The charity said: “Durrell recommends that members vote against the resolution.”

We Love the Zoo officially called for the EGM in March, following months of conflict between the charity and the group of members looking to oust its trustees.

Last week, the group said that they were calling the meeting because they felt that their concerns about animal welfare at the Zoo – which Durrell has always maintained has never been at risk – and its management have not been addressed.

The group first approached Durrell following the departure of head of mammals Dominic Wormell.

In February, UK mediators were parachuted in to hold a session with the group and members of the board of trustees in a bid to resolve their ongoing concerns around governance of the trust, staff welfare, animal welfare and species choices at Jersey Zoo.

However, the mediation process fell apart when solutions could not be agreed.

The group’s demands included an independent review of the charity’s operations and finance, and the departures of its chair of the board of trustees and operations director, the JEP understands.

The latter left the charity “by mutual consent” at the end of last month.

Confirming the date of the EGM yesterday morning, the Zoo said that only members of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust were able to attend and vote.

The meeting is not open to the general public and members must register for a place in advance.

All members have been contacted either by email or letter and have the choice of appointing a proxy to vote on their behalf at the EGM or by attending in person.

The widow of the founder of the conservation charity Gerald Durrell spoke out in support of Durrell and Jersey Zoo management in March.

Giving her strong backing to the senior team, Lee Durrell, who is an honorary director of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, urged detractors to “stop using Gerald Durrell’s name and legacy to justify their criticisms” and said that the resulting instability “could result in dire consequences for the Durrell we all love”.

“Healthy debate about management decisions and strategic direction of any organisation is to be welcomed – Gerald Durrell himself encouraged constructive criticism of the zoo,” she said.

“In recent months, however, the concerns raised, albeit well-intentioned, have infused the debates with diverse agendas and unyielding opinions, which have had a negative impact on stability and morale at Jersey Zoo, and could result in dire consequences for the Durrell we all love.

“I therefore ask those people to stop using Gerald Durrell’s name and legacy to justify their criticisms.

“Whatever outcomes they seek, Gerry would have been deeply saddened to see the damage done to the Trust to which he gave his name and dedicated his life.”

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