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More than 100 members of Jersey Zoo say it is 'under threat'

Jersey Zoo's board comes under fire as trust members are calling for a vote of no confidence.

They have raised a number of concerns, which they say are often met with denial.

A group called 'We Love The Zoo' is urging members to vote for the board's resignation and have written to them stating their reasons why.

These include: multiple allegations of bullying, concern for animal welfare, high staff turnover and inaction on a build promised five years ago and financially backed with donations from islanders. 

Peter Derrick is from the group and volunteered at the zoo for six years. 

Peter said: "None of us involved in this are getting any pleasure from this but we felt we had to stand up and be counted or things would go from bad to worse. The wonderful Durrell Zoo has been allowed to lose its identity as a unique home for critically endangered species.

"Instead, it has lost sight of what it's here for and what people all other the world come to visit. We are determined that this should not have been allowed to happen and the people that have allowed this to happen need to be held accountable."

A statement from Durrell's board has responded to these allegations and reasons the 'We Love The Zoo' group thinks are grounds for their resignation. 

Within the reports of bullying, members say this includes instances of inappropriate behaviour towards young female staff members. 

Peter Derrick told Channel 103 he has not seen 'any instances of disciplinary action off the back of this'.

Addressing the allegations, Durrell responded: 'As an organisation, we have a zero tolerance to bullying and harassment and take all complaints seriously.

'These situations are confidential to the respective parties and therefore we cannot comment on specific circumstances or outcomes.  However, what we can say is that we have robust policies and procedures in place.'

READ MORE: Zoo Responds To Welfare Concerns

Concern has also been raised surrounding the management of animals, involving bringing in non-threatened nocturnal animals and allowing critically endangered species to leave the zoo.

Worries were also raised about a high turnover of staff - where it is alleged team members with animal management and conservation experience cumulatively totalling more than 250 years, including several world experts in their field, have left the zoo in the past 2 years. 

Peter said these staff members have been "bullied out, persuaded to leave or have just decided they had enough and decided to walk away from something they love". 

Durrell responded in their statement: 'The mix of species at Jersey Zoo has always been a balancing act and we remain committed to finding the right balance between animals that we work with in the wild and those that will educate and inspire people on the plight of their wild counterparts.

'This approach is not new. In 2014, 45% of the species held at Jersey Zoo were classed as globally threatened. Today this figure is 48%. (44%: not threatened, 8%: not yet evaluated by the IUCN Red List).

'Whilst it is always sad to lose valued and long-serving employees, many of them stay in touch and become part of our wider network of professionals whose knowledge we can draw on.

'We are proud to have retained a huge number of our 350 staff, including colleagues that worked alongside Gerald Durrell over 40 years ago.'

Take a wild day out at Jersey Zoo and meet some of the rarest creatures in the world.

Criticisms were also made surrounding the board's inaction on the Gorilla House - a project where 1.2 million pounds was raised from residents five years ago but has yet to be built. 

Peter said: "The money was raised from donations from people and there were fancy plans for an overly ambitious Gorilla House that would have cost 5 million pounds. 

"We are still looking today at the footings, just the bare footings that have been put in despite 1.2 million raised by donations, £980,000 from the COVID stimulus fund. This is all in one way or another residents' money and it's sitting there and nothing is happening which is appalling."

Regarding the Gorilla House concerns, Durrell stated: 'The next phases of building work are planned to commence in the next few months. There was a pause in the project, partially due to significant market volatility for building supplies in recent times with costs now becoming more settled.'

A meeting on 2 May will ask members to vote on whether the board of trustees should resign and an investigation be launched.


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