Adelaide Zoo strengthens ties with University

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Adelaide Zoo chief executive officer, Chris West, has been appointed to the Chair of Zoology at the University of Adelaide, creating a rare fusion of science, education and field support.

Professor West will bring a wealth of international experience to his new post, which will involve some teaching and collaborative research projects between the Zoo and the University.

A former Director of London Zoo, Professor West immigrated to Australia earlier this year to take up his position as chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, which runs both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Zoological Park.

This is the first time in the zoo's history that its chief executive has occupied the Chair of Zoology at the University of Adelaide.

"It's a rare, but sensible, fusion between the two organisations because we have a great overlap of interests," Professor West said. "At the Zoo we need to make sure that any decisions relating to the animals are underpinned by a scientific basis. Our connection with the University will ensure this."

"I think the Zoo can also be a great recruiting centre for the University. We always have a full house when we hold career days and many of these young people are potential University students."

The Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Professor Bob Hill, said the Zoo's strong conservation stance was aligned with the University's teaching curriculum and research strengths.

"Professor West offers exciting potential for new research and teaching links. There is a strong history of collaboration already in place with the Zoo, but we have identified ways in which this can be reinforced. Present and future students will benefit greatly from his appointment," Professor Hill said.

Professor West spent his formative years in West Africa, where his interest in wildlife was nurtured. He qualified as a vet in the early 1980s and later followed an academic path, teaching surgery and undertaking anaesthesia research before accepting a managerial position with a large pharmaceutical company.

His interest in conservation and wildlife led to a senior curator's position at Chester Zoo and then the top job at London Zoo. Professor West has been chief executive of Adelaide Zoo and Monarto since February.

Some exciting changes are planned for the Zoo within the next two years, including the development of more cutting-edge exhibits like the South East Asian Rainforest, where, via an intimate viewing platform, the public is immersed in a lush tropical environment with some of the world's most endangered species.


Contact Details

Professor Bob Hill
Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6807
Mobile: 0409 286 970

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762