TROUBLED Edinburgh Zoo has lost another senior member of its management team, it emerged today (Wed).
Max Gaunt stepped down from his role as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s treasurer last month after four years in the position.
Mr Gaunt was involved in securing the loan of two giant pandas from China to the zoo.
The reasons behind his resignation are unknown.
Acting chief executive Gary Wilson, who was suspended last week, today broke his silence to claim he was the victim of jealousy.
Gary Wilson has been banned from Edinburgh Zoo while chiefs investigate anonymous allegations against him.
Today the 47-year-old branded the claims as “nonsense” and vowed to clear his name.
The interim chief operating officer said: “I’m the victim of a smear campaign from people who are jealous of the position I hold.
Mr Wilson said: “I know who made the allegations against me and they’re complete nonsense.”
He added: “I’ve met with my bosses at the zoo and I’ve put my side of the story across.
“They have a dossier of allegations against me but they haven’t told me what all the allegations against me are or who has made them.
“They’re suggesting I did something underhand, which is not the case. I will clear my name.
“I work 50 to 60 hours per week and I’ve dedicated the last 12 years of my life to the zoo.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gaunt is believed to have stepped down as treasurer shortly after a RZSS board meeting to discuss the giant pandas’ sponsorship.
Mr Gaunt said: “It is a confidential matter between myself and the RZSS.”
When asked if his resignation was related to the pandas coming to the zoo he said he was not willing to make any further comment.
Mr Gaunt also noted that his departure was nothing to do with the suspension of Mr Wilson.
The zoo has been hit by a wave of negative publicity in recent months.
A special parrot enclosure had to be closed to save money and it looks likely the zoo’s sea lions will lose their home because there is too little money for an upgrade.
A zoo source said: “Folk at the zoo aren’t particularly happy at the moment. They feel that senior management is keeping things from them and there seems to have been set back after set back recently. Most people are in the dark about the chief exec.”
A zoo spokeswoman said they can confirm that Max Gaunt had retired from his role on the executive board to concentrate on his business interests.
She added that they could not comment on the nature of the allegations against Mr Wilson.
She said: “The internal investigation is currently being conducted at board level and every effort is being made to treat Gary Wilson in a way that is both fair and transparent.
“This is not a police matter as it is not known if there is any truth to the allegations.”