Zoo boss says RZSS members have right to be angry


THE new chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo has admitted that he would have been angry about problems at the attraction if he had been a member.

At an AGM last month, members of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) hit out over the lack of an annual report and the yearly accounts at the zoo.

And now Hugh Roberts, who took over the post only three weeks ago, said that he would have been angry too.

He said:

“It’s all extraordinarily messy. If I had been a member I would have reacted in the same way, and it was right that the president, John Spence, decided the meeting should be reconvened when the information is available.

“My challenge with the new members is to show changes are happening and I think they will see that someone is in control and they will be comfortable with the direction. “

The zoo has been dogged by recent misfortune after one zoo director was sacked and two were suspended while investigations into anonymous allegations were carried out.

Chief operating officer Gary Wilson is now back at work but another investigation into Iain Valentine, the director of animals, conservation and education, is still to be completed.

And former chairman Donald Emslie quit after a vote of no confidence at an emergency meeting of RZSS members last month.

But Mr Roberts, 61, now hopes to change the fortunes of the zoo around.

He says that he offers

“leadership’ and the biggest issue that the zoo is facing is

“management and organisation.”

He added that the arrival of the pandas is important but his main priority is ensuring that the

“visitor experience’ to the zoo is enhanced.

“The pandas are an iconic animal, and their arrival is very important to the zoo, but they don’t do much – eat, sleep and occasionally mate,’ he said.

“So we have to be clever about the experience we are offering people. That’s where interactivity comes in – to let people walk through the bamboo, to touch it, to know what it feels like. “

And while he believes the zoo is on a sound financial footing, he admits that sponsorship for the pandas has yet to flood in.

He added:

“I know the panda committee is working very hard on this and it will happen. “