Sixty years of saving species

On 26 March 2019, Jersey Zoo celebrated 60 years since its opening — the very beginning of the global charity that is now the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Since its inception Durrell has had the same four-word mission statement, ‘Saving Species from Extinction’ and this remains at the heart of what the Trust does today. The international charity recently launched its ‘Rewild our World’ strategy that sets out four headline goals to achieve by 2025, when its founder, Gerald Durrell, would have celebrated his 100th birthday.


Commenting on how the zoo has transformed over the years, Durrell's Honorary Director, Dr Lee Durrell said,

“Jersey Zoo looks very different now from the modest little zoo that Gerald Durrell started six decades ago. But if he were alive today, he would recognise it by the same dedication and passion of our staff for the conservation mission and by the well-being of our animals. He would be thrilled that our current ‘Rewild our World’ strategy was inspired by the philosophy, values and approach to conservation he and his team expounded so long ago and would urge us to get on with the job!”

Achieving the bold and ambitious targets outlined in Durrell’s new strategy will deliver significant change to the fortunes of some of the world’s most threatened wildlife.

In 2025 Durrell wants to see:

  • 10 ecosystems across the world’s major biomes rewilded
  • 100 threatened species on the road to recovery
  • 500 endangered species projects working more effectively
  • 1,000,000 people better connected with nature

Durrell's Chief Executive, Dr Lesley Dickie said,

“Durrell has always punched above its weight and we are a truly global organisation. No other zoo-based conservation organisation in the world puts as high a % of total operating budget into conservation as Durrell, and we are proud that we continue to put species first. Our impact is felt far beyond our own shores and we can prove that conservation works, when given the resources and time, it absolutely works.”

Durrell is proud of its many achievements over the past 60 years and some of the highlights include:

  • 14 species saved from extinction
  • 46 successful attempts to control invasive species across 29 locations
  • the survival chances of their target species increased by 150%
  • 382 scientific publications produced
  • thousands of animals released into the wild, of 26 species, including:
    • 45,458 agile frogs
    • 361 pink pigeons
    • 174 mountain chicken frogs
    • 116 pygmy hogs
    • 42 red-billed choughs
    • 21 Madagascar pochards
  • 5,500 conservationists trained from 142 countries around the world
  • 435,445 hectares of habitat protected, equal to 609,867 football pitches, including: 
    • 532,394 ha of marine and coastal habitat (45,370 football pitches)
    • 56,546 ha of freshwater wetlands (79,196 football pitches)
    • 163,198 ha of forest (228,569 football pitches)
    • 183,307 ha of grasslands (256,732 football pitches)

2019 is a huge year for the charity, as not only does it turn 60-years-old, but it also celebrates this special anniversary by launching the Go Wild Gorillas sculpture trail and the Investec Wilderness Ball, which both aim to raise funds for the Trust’s global conservation work, as well as a new indoor gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo.

Lesley continued,

“We are gratified at what we have achieved in the last 60 years, but we want to do even more, and with the help of our current and future supporters, that is exactly what we will do. Our beautiful planet needs us all to step up and take action, so we invite everyone to celebrate our 60th year by getting involved in our ‘Rewild our World’ strategy and supporting us in whatever way they can.”