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Former Durrell Director: "It is with a heavy heart that I express my profound concerns"

Former Durrell Director:

Thursday 02 May 2024

Former Durrell Director: "It is with a heavy heart that I express my profound concerns"

Thursday 02 May 2024


Professor Julia Fa, a former Director of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust – and now an Honorary Fellow of the charity – has added her voice to the list of senior figures in the charity community expressing concerns about animal welfare.

In an open letter ahead of this evening's crucial EGM vote, she also raised concerns around staff treatment and turnover – all of which have previously been strongly rebutted by Durrell. Here's what Professor Fa had to say...

It is with a heavy heart that I express my profound concerns regarding the recent developments at Jersey Zoo, as eloquently articulated by Quentin [Bloxham, a former Director of Conservation Management who worked at Durrell for 45 years, ed.], a respected and long-serving member of our community.

Having devoted 23 years of my life to Durrell, first as a Training Officer and later as Conservation Science Director, I have had the privilege of witnessing the tireless dedication of our staff and volunteers towards the noble cause of conserving species facing extinction. However, it deeply saddens me to acknowledge the distressing situation as detailed by Quentin, but one which I have heard from the staff themselves, all of them good honest people and excellent professionals.

The issues raised regarding animal welfare, staff mistreatment, and the alarming turnover of exceptional talent cannot be understated. This highlights a troubling trend of mismanagement and disregard for the values that Durrell stands for. The loss of invaluable expertise and the alienation of dedicated volunteers is a testament to the erosion of the very foundation upon which this organization was built.

Moreover, the animal welfare concerns are inexcusable, particularly regarding the sloths and aardvarks, and this demands urgent attention. The dismissive response from the States Vet and the lack of action from the Board only serve to exacerbate these issues further. It is imperative that we uphold the highest standards of care for the animals under our stewardship, and any deviation from this commitment is unacceptable.

Furthermore, the disregard for the comprehensive collection plan put forth by the zoo staff in 2014 is deeply troubling. The Zoo and Trust was always based on an atmosphere of inclusivity and not Ignoring the expertise and dedication of our team in favour of unilateral decisions. The zoo has been run with a cabal mentality of no transparency and accountability within the organization.

Additionally, I completely agree with Quentin's critique of the Scottish rewilding project. The Trust's dismissal of new projects in the Global South, which has always been our focus, demonstrates a lazy and unintelligent approach to identifying the true conservation challenges, particularly in a world where biodiversity loss is widespread. Our mission has always been to advocate for critically endangered species on a global level, so deviating from this principle is concerning and requires immediate and thoughtful revaluation. Allocating conservation funds to Scotland for our organization, is a waste!

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse the current call for accountability and support the change within the Board. The erosion of trust and the departure from our core values cannot be ignored. As custodians of this extraordinary organization, it is incumbent upon us to heed the concerns of our dedicated staff and volunteers and take decisive action to rectify the course we are on.

Sincerely,

Prof. Julia E. Fa
Professor of Biodiversity and Human Development, Manchester Metropolitan University
Senior Research Associate, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) 

READ MORE...

OPEN LETTER: Zoo campaign group "threatening Durrell's very existence"

"Stop using Gerald's name and legacy", Lee Durrell urges Zoo critics

INSIGHT: Who are the campaign group behind the push to shake up Jersey Zoo and what do they want?

Durrell urges members to vote against rebels as EGM confirmed

Durrell devotees speak out ahead of charity vote

Cost of dealing with rebel zoo members has been "extremely high"

INSIGHT: Key resignation and campaigner concerns pile pressure on Jersey Zoo

FOCUS: Sloths, social media posts and 'snubbed' staff... The drama before Dr Dickie's departure from Jersey Zoo

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