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Meet the Senior Management Team & Trustees

Our board of trustees act as a body of charity trustees, and as directors for the purposes of company law.

They determine the strategic direction and policies of DZS and have general control and responsibility for the management and administration of DZS.

The key responsibilities of the Trustees

With other Trustees to hold the Society “in Trust” for current and future beneficiaries by:

  • ensuring that the Society has a clear mission and strategic direction and is focused on achieving these.
  • being responsible for the performance of the Society and for its “corporate” behaviour.
  • ensuring that the Society complies with all legal and regulatory requirements.
  • acting as guardians of the Society’s assets, both tangible and intangible, taking all due care over their security, deployment, and proper application; and
  • ensuring that the Society’s governance is of the highest possible standard.

The Senior Management Team

Benjamin Mee - CEO

Benjamin Mee joined the board when he donated Dartmoor Zoo to the charity in 2015. Benjamin’s family bought the zoo in 2006 after it had closed down, re-opening it eight months later in order to save the animals, jobs and the educational, conservational and research opportunities that a modern zoo can offer. The task of actually turning it into a modern zoo took a huge leap forward with the transition to charitable status.

Benjamin is a science journalist and writer whose book We Bought a Zoo was made into the Hollywood film of the same name, and is also passionate about education, rehabilitation through nature, Animal Assisted Therapies and research into animal cognition.

Coral Jonas – Chief Operating Officer

Coral joined Dartmoor Zoo back in 2013 before it became a charity. Previously she worked as a Biology teacher at secondary schools in London and Devon before joining the zoo as their education officer. After completing a masters in Conservation Biology, Coral took on a new role as Head of Education and Research. With an established team and over 8 years of working in the zoo, Coral then took the role of Deputy CEO in September 2019. In September 2021 she became Chief Operating Officer.

As a Mum and an educator at heart she is keen to instil the importance of conservation, education, and good stewardship of our world. She also understands how important time together and days out are for busy families.  

Scott Chambers – Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services

Scott joined Dartmoor Zoo in 2021. As Curator, he leads the animal keeper team and is responsible for ensuring the animals are receiving the best possible care and that the highest animal welfare standards are maintained throughout the collection, as well as supporting the charity’s conservation and education goals.

With over 20 years of experience in the zoological field, Scott has spent the last decade working in the USA. He has achieved a Pre-Veterinary Medicine Degree from Colorado State University and an Animal and Avian Science and Management Degree from the University of Maryland.

Some of his achievements include being published in the journal of zoo biology for a study on gentoo penguin genetics, acting as a special advisor to the clouded leopard species survival plan, anti-poaching runs in Africa and participating in 50+ breeding programmes for various endangered species.

Outside of work, Scott enjoys travelling, cooking, watching and playing sports and visiting other zoos/aquariums to learn more about animals and how to take care of them so he can improve himself and the care he can offer.

Debs McIver - Head of Finance

Debs is our newest member of the Senior Leadership Team at the zoo, having started in March 2023.

Debs is responsible for the Charity’s long-term financial health and growth, through effective control of all financial operations of the Charity and it’s trading subsidiary.

Originally from the North East, Debs comes with a wealth of charity finance experience at a senior level.

Outside of work she spends time with her family and is a volunteer for a local heritage railway.

Clare Lee – Head of Compliance and Resources

Dr Clare Lee is our Head of Compliance and Resources. She joined Dartmoor Zoological Society at the end of 2017. Previously she worked at the Met Office for 14 years, where she became Strategic Head of a scientific research department, developing her leadership, staff management, project management, grant writing and strategic thinking skills. Prior to that she worked at Universities as a Researcher, following the completion of her PhD in Atmospheric Science.

Clare has always loved animals and is excited to work at Dartmoor Zoological Society to help make a difference in wildlife conservation, education and research. 

Alyn Price – Head of Retail, Catering and Events

Alyn started out his profession studying Hospitality & Catering in his hometown of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. After finishing college, he travelled as a young chef working in Ski resorts during the Winter months and spending his Summer months by the sea in Cornwall. He settled in Plymouth continuing in hospitality industry but changing his career focus to restaurant management. Gaining a hospitality management qualification whilst running a country pub.

With a strong passion for local, seasonal, and ethical produce he joined the Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall ‘River Cottage’ restaurant chain as part of the management team. Alyn joined the Dartmoor Zoo team in 2017 as our Catering, Retail & Events manager, bringing along his ethically focused sourcing and management of the department.  

The Trustees

Benjamin James – Trustee Chairperson

Benjamin joined the board in 2017 and became chairperson in 2018. He also chairs the Finance and Ethics Committees.  

Benjamin is a solicitor specializing in advising charities, individuals and companies on commercial, ethical, intellectual property and governance matters. He is currently a partner in a London law firm and holds a compliance role. He is the chairperson of an adoption charity and sits on the boards of various other charities and companies.  

He has a long commitment to conservation generally and animals in particular. Benjamin travels as much as possible and has had the opportunity to visit the natural habitats of many of the animals housed at Dartmoor Zoo and wishes to see as many of these habitats replicated at Dartmoor Zoo as possible.  

James Ross

James joined the board in 2017. He also sits on the Finance Committee.  

James is a management consultant now mainly working for social landlords in the UK developing strategy and business planning. His previous roles have taken him around the world and have covered a range of sectors including financial services and manufacturing. 

As a keen traveller, James has been fortunate to see many of the world’s endangered species in their natural habitats.  He is committed to the vital role that zoos will play in the future preservation of many of these extraordinary creatures.  

He lives in London with his wife and two big-cat loving daughters. 

Simon Almond

Simon is the founder and Managing Director of Devon Contract Waste (DCW), the South West’s leading independent waste management and recycling company and has been a Trustee of Dartmoor Zoo since 2014.  

Simon established DCW in 1989 since when he has built the family run business to its current day success with a turnover of £12.7m, employing 122 staff and undertaking 16,000 weekly commercial collections across three counties, using 55 state-of-the-art vehicles.   

Simon brings to the DZP board, a wealth of commercial expertise gained over 30 years building and running DCW.  He is passionate about protecting the environment in which we live and takes a keen interest in the protection of vital habitats and endangered wildlife.

Douglas Richardson

As an independent zoological consultant since November 2018, Douglas Richardson operates on a global basis, advising on zoological and conservation projects in a number of countries.

Based on his more than 40 years of experience working in the zoo and conservation community on four continents, having held senior positions within zoological collections including the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Bioparco Rome, Douglas’ skills set includes new enclosure design, repurposing existing facilities, review of proposed designs and master plans, safety and security reviews, husbandry training and refinement, ethical animal acquisition and disposition, and enhancing conservation output.