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Chief executive for Africa Alive, between Lowestoft and Southwold, and Banham Zoo resigns after redundancies backlash





The chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs a Norfolk and a Suffolk zoo, has resigned following ‘widespread abuse’ after redundancies were announced by the charity last week.

Claudia Roberts, has been in charge of the ZSEA, which runs Banham Zoo and Africa Alive in Kessingland, between Lowestoft and Southwold, for four years.

Last week it was revealed that less than 10 per cent of its more than 200 employees at the two sites were to be made redundant, with rising costs said to be the reason for the decision.

Former ZSEA chief executive Claudia Roberts. Picture: Simply C Photography
Former ZSEA chief executive Claudia Roberts. Picture: Simply C Photography

Today, Gerard Smith, chairman of the society’s trustees, said: “We would like to thank Claudia for her leadership and managing the charity in very challenging circumstances. Over recent years, the charity has survived the pandemic thanks to the efforts of the team and Claudia successfully lobbying to achieve the highest animal zoo grant funding in the country.

“The charity has weathered the economic crisis and increasing energy and supply chain costs. Despite this, we have been able to maintain our high quality veterinary care, animal management and stable visitor numbers.

“Last week, the charity announced a small number of redundancies to ensure long term financial stability. This decision was not taken lightly, and we thank the whole team for continuing to be so resilient through difficult times.

Gerard Smith, chairman of the trustees for the ZSEA. Picture submitted
Gerard Smith, chairman of the trustees for the ZSEA. Picture submitted

“Following this news, Claudia received widespread abuse. This behaviour is wholly unacceptable, and it is, in part because of this, Claudia is resigning.

“In the interest of curtailing any rumours and speculation, the board of trustees did not ask Claudia to resign, and we had full faith in her leadership of the charity. However, we understand her decision and wish her well with her future endeavours.”

It is anticipated that Claudia will continue as chief executive for the short term while recruitment takes place for a new one.

The ZSEA also said that after internal changes, the Birds of the World displays at Banham Zoo will continue without interruption, and there are currently no plans to stop this show.

However, should there be a recurrence of avian influenza, the charity said it would need to reassess this.