Chester Zoo, a leading UK visitor attraction, has appointed a new managing director, Jamie Christon.
Christon joins Chester Zoo at an exciting time in its 80 year history. The Zoo is working on the ambitious Islands project which will create large, natural environments based on the Indonesian islands. The immersive visitor experience, which will expand the Zoo’s footprint by over 14 acres, even includes a river boat journey.
Christon says, “There really is so much happening right now; I am very excited to have joined the zoo at such an important time, especially with work on our new £30m Islands development now underway. It is such an ambitious project which will take us into a whole new era.
“We envisage Islands will attract an additional 150, 000 visitors a year and increase the zoo by the size of seven football pitches, making it one of the biggest zoo developments in Europe. The added value will not only benefit the zoo, but the local economy in and around Chester and the North West as a whole.”
Originally from a farming background Christon brings a breadth of commercial experience to the role. With a degree in politics from Leicester University he moved into the retail sector. In 2003 he joined Manchester Airport Group and then went on to manage commercial operations at East Midlands, Humberside, Bournemouth and Exeter airports. His most recent role was in change management with ferries operator, Stena Line.
“It’s my dream job, ” says Christon. “It might sound like a cliché to say it, but it’s true, I am very, very excited to be here and I am keen to help the zoo move forward in the best way I can. For 10 years I worked in the commercial development of airports, which may seem completely different to a zoo. However, when you think about it, they have many similarities. At the airports I dealt with a rich variety of businesses and people, from retailers to caterers to security and management and saw huge numbers passing through on a daily basis. The zoo is very much the same.”