We are delighted to be working with the dynamic fundraising team at Chester Zoo as they make future plans. Chester Zoo is the largest and most visited zoo in the UK. It is also an ambitious wildlife charity, funding and delivering work across the globe to fight extinction.

Zoo fundraising is a developing field, with larger zoos operating as conservation charities, combining the care and management of captive populations with active research and fieldwork programmes across the world. Zoos of course have the benefit of holding their own populations of animals, offering an ‘insurance’ against extinction in the wild, and having the means to develop and test new approaches in animal health.

Chester Zoo has developed several specialisms in its conservation work – areas in which it is a global leader. ‘Livelihoods and Sustainable Development’, for instance, relates to resolving tensions between communities living in poverty and conservation. In these areas wildlife may actively present a problem to struggling communities, meaning locals are opposed to conservation. Equally, for people living in poverty, spending on wildlife around them may seem unjust.

In these situations Chester Zoo has a strong track record of developing what it calls “culturally acceptable, equitable and economically viable solutions for communities to benefit from conservation efforts“. Achieving this delicate balance ensures local people actively benefit from conservation spending, and therefore support and welcome the activities in their communities. Conservation programmes are more effective, and marginalised communities benefit too. There is a terrific write-up here of the zoo’s success in minimising human/tiger conflicts in Nepal.

Chester is also a centre of excellence in conservation breeding and management: zoos are unique in this regard in being able to offer an ‘insurance’ population of rare animals, in the event of significant losses in the wild. This capacity also gives zoos such as Chester an insight into how to manage wild populations and translocation projects.

It’s a privilege to work with the zoo’s fundraising team as they plan for the future, to increase support for the zoo’s extraordinary fieldwork and its important Science Training Programme.