Council members

Council is the governing body of The Zoological Society of London.

It is made up of three elected Officers - the President, Secretary and Treasurer – and twelve elected members. Council members are the Trustees of the Society.

Council members serve a four year term of office and are then replaced by elected successors.

  • President: Professor Sir John Beddington CMG FRS

Sir John was appointed Professor of Applied Population Biology at Imperial College London in 1991, and from 2008 until 2013 was the UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor reporting directly to the Prime Minister. Sir John was knighted in 2010 and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.

  • Secretary: Professor Sir Jim Smith FRS

Jim Smith is a developmental biologist who served as Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) National Institute for Medical Research, where he helped establish the Francis Crick Institute. Most recently he was Director of Research Programmes at Wellcome. Jim was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1993 and of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998, and was knighted in 2017

  • Treasurer: Richard Sykes

Richard, a chartered accountant and a former senior partner at PwC, was appointed as Treasurer in January 2020 and brings his accounting, risk, governance and wider business and charity expertise to his role as Chair of the Finance and General Purpose Committee.

  • Lynne Abbess

Lynne is a solicitor and mediator, formerly a senior partner with Hempsons, where for 25 years she acted as the external lawyer to ZSL. She brings her knowledge of ZSL’s corporate history, together with her legal expertise in the fields of real estate, commercial and risk.

  • Ray Heaton

Qualified as a Behavioural Ecologist, Ray is a Consultant in Ecology and Conservation. He is an active Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Royal Geographical Society and is also active in other organisations such as Ape Alliance and the Primate Society.

  • Alex Large

Alex finished a 25-year career in investment banking at JPMorgan in 2018, where he held a variety of risk management, capital-raising, and corporate finance roles in the UK and Asia Pacific. He now runs his own business working with fast-growing companies. 

  • Professor Maggie Redshaw

Maggie is a Psychologist and Senior Social Scientist at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford. Maggie has worked in research and education at Jersey and Bristol zoos, and edits the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology and BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. Maggie is Chair of ZSL’s Animal Welfare Committee. 

  • Bob Wingate

Prior to his retirement, Bob worked as an Animal Health Inspector and Deputy Manager of the City of London’s Animal Reception Centre, at Heathrow Airport. Bob was employed for twenty-six years at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in various roles including as a Head Keeper and as Acting Regional Co-ordinator.

  • Martin Rowson

Martin is an award-winning cartoonist, illustrator, and author and has decades of experience of charity governance. Martin served his first term on Council in 1992 following his involvement in the Reform Group, which successfully spearheaded the campaign to reverse the decision to close London Zoo in 1991.

  • Ken Sims

Ken is the founder Director of Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Norfolk, opened in 1979, and is a strong proponent of field and zoo conservation work and of inter-zoo co-operation. Ken has been a zoo inspector since 1984 and a BIAZA member for over 35 years, having served on both BIAZA and EAZA Council.

  • Shruti Ajitsaria

Shruti is a partner at law firm Allen & Overy where she created and launched an initiative to build digital skills. She brings this spirit of innovation and adoption of technology in addition to her governance and fundraising experience from serving as a School Governor and sitting on a Fundraising Development Group for a Hospice, in addition to completing the FT Non-Executive Director Diploma.

  • David Jones

David had a Board level career at the John Lewis Partnership where he held senior roles in Retail, Commercial and Supply Chain. He brings to ZSL experience in non-executive roles, spanning retail, sport, local government, community and voluntary, charity, regulatory and trade bodies. 

  • Dr Peter Higgins

Peter has over 30 years of experience as a veterinary surgeon, including zoological advisory work, coupled with a Fellowship of the Institute of Company Directors, a passion for wildlife and conservation, and experience and achievements in fundraising strategy for charities, as well as marketing and media skills.

  • Paul Wilson

Paul has had a lifelong interest in Zoology and conservation and has been a Fellow of ZSL for almost 30 years. Now retired, Paul was Managing Director of a large UK construction company, delivering major projects across the UK, giving him broad experience in strategic and commercial management. Paul is also chair of ZSL’s Library Advisory Group.