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12 June 2024

Welsh Mountain Zoo Makes Landmark Appointment


The Welsh Mountain Zoo has welcomed a new Chief Executive – the first person from outside of the founding family to take on the high-profile position.

The zoo in Colwyn Bay was opened in May 1963 by wildlife enthusiast Robert Jackson, and the Jackson family has been responsible for the day to day running of the charity until Nick Jackson’s retirement in June 2022.

Now Chris Mitchell takes on the key position of Chief Executive with far reaching experience and a diverse background across the animal world in various roles.

His former post as Head of Zoo Operations at Drayton Manor focused on the growth and development of the zoo team, as well as increasing the conservation value of the animals housed at the zoo. Chris’ conservation experience extends to the international stage having operated at the front line of ape conservation and welfare in Cameroon, followed by roles in education including resource management and teaching capacities.

As new CEO Chris assumes overall responsibility for managing the change, growth and performance of the Welsh Mountain Zoo under a strategic development plan, working alongside the board and leadership team.

Chris said:

“Of course, I am incredibly excited about my appointment and accept the responsibility of CEO with pleasure and a determination to build on the huge legacy left by the Jackson family. The zoo owns a wonderful history and strong heritage and my aim is to build on these solid foundations and see the zoo prosper and thrive for many generations to come.

“All zoos are evolving, both as visitor attractions, and as conservation organisations, and the Welsh Mountain Zoo will be no exception. Many zoos are moving towards keeping animals of greater conservation relevance, often housing them in large enclosures themed to resemble a particular ecosystem. This is the path that we will begin a journey towards – watch this space.

“Zoos are magical places to visit, connecting people to the natural world in a more visceral way than any wildlife documentary can.  Zoos are visited by, and staffed by animal lovers, who not only care about the animals in the zoo but are also very concerned about the current global biodiversity crisis.  Modern zoos form part of a powerful conservation network, working tirelessly to reduce the threat of extinction of a growing list of animals and plants.

“The goals for the zoo are centred around ensuring that the charity is able to generate enough income to cover our expenditure but also to grow the crucial conservation and education work we do.  We need to be the trusted voice on conservation, not only in our local area but further afield as well.  Measurable conservation outcomes are supported by ever growing numbers of visitors who have a great day out at one of the most picturesque zoos in the UK.  I want the zoo to mean something to our local community, they are rightly proud of their local zoo and we want to be welcoming to all. Put simply – visit the zoo and save species.”

The Welsh Mountain Zoo currently houses more than 80 species and employs 41 staff, including an additional 13 seasonal staff, and is open every day of the year except Christmas day.

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