Image of the gates of Liverpool Cathedral

Gordon McGregor Reid

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Gordon McGregor Reid for the award of an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University.  

Gordon McGregor Reid is Director General and Chief Executive of The North of England Zoological Society, popularly known as Chester Zoo. 

The Society is an independent charity for conservation, education and science and receives no state subsidy. It is one of the leading wildlife attractions in the UK with well over one million paying guests each year providing the main source of income. The Society's annual turnover is about £30M and it employs just under 500 staff who look after about 6,000 animals of 600 species. Approximately half of these animals are on the World Conservation Union Red List of endangered species. The conservation outreach work of the Zoo spans more than 50 countries in five continents, with substantial and growing investment. 

Under Gordon McGregor Reid's leadership, this major wildlife attraction has gained more than 100 international, national and regional awards for success in conservation, environment management education, science, and business excellence, including two Queen's Awards for Enterprise in the category of Sustainable Development - the highest business accolade in the UK. And Gordon has embryonic plans to create a SuperZoo, trebled in size, creating many new jobs and attracting thousands more visitors. - a vision of a truly world class attraction which would also be a global centre for conservation sustainability. 

Gordon was born in 1948 and brought up in Glasgow. As a child he showed his entrepreneurial spirit by breeding, rearing and trading in tropical fish. He left school at 16 and became a technician in the Zoology department at Glasgow University. At 18, he went on VSO to Botswana teaching Angolan refugees how to catch and process fish.  Next came Nigeria at the end of the Biafran War where he conducted the first systematic survey of freshwater fish. 

By this time, he had come to the attention of the Natural History Museum which provided him with a scholarship for his undergraduate studies in Cardiff. Thereafter he completed his PhD at the University of London with a thesis on the morphology of tropical fishes. Whilst doing his PhD, Gordon married Sally Linfield who is present today to share in the occasion. 

After the PhD, it was back to Nigeria to continue his aquatic research and then to Liverpool ultimately as Keeper of Collections, including Living Collections, for Liverpool Museum. From Liverpool, he went to the Horniman Museum in London as the Keeper of Natural History Collections. Whilst in London, he became a government-appointed Inspector of Zoos and was then appointed as Chief Curator of Chester Zoo in 1992. He subsequently became Director and then Director-General in 2005. 

The esteem in which Gordon is held nationally and internationally is evident from his CV. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications in the areas of zoology, ecology and conservation and he is a frequent invited key-note speaker at home and abroad. He has acted as a consultant for Conservation International, Fauna and Flora International, British Executive Services Overseas and the World Wide Fund for Nature. And he has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution.   

Two African species of fish new to science have been named in his honour: He has gained a Guest of Honour award from the Government of Bolivia in recognition of work in conservation and ecotourism; and Honorary Membership of the Bolivian College of Veterinary Medicine for work in animal welfare.  

From 2003-06, he served as President of the Linnean Society of London - the world's oldest learned Society for botany and zoology. His current roles include: Trustee National Museums Merseyside Global Chair the World Conservation Union Freshwater Fish Specialist Group  Trustee of the Frozen Ark, a cryobiological consortium focused on conserving the genomes of rare species. Council Member and chair of the Research Committee of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria  

In 2005, he became President-Elect of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Gordon McGregor Reid turned his early interest in tropical fish into a productive academic and career pursuit which has led to him being widely feted at home and abroad for his work on tropical fish, animal welfare and the conservation of endangered species. In recent years, he has taken Chester Zoo from strength to strength as a major visitor attraction - now the sixth largest visitor attraction in the UK -, resulting in the achievement of many international, national and regional awards. 

And his vision of a world-class SuperZoo raises exciting prospects for the future of the North of England Zoological Society. 

He has had and still retains strong links with Liverpool, through both universities and through his trusteeship of the National Museums. He has made, and continues to make, an outstanding contribution to the region and we are delighted to honour him today. 

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Professor Gordon McGregor Reid, this most distinguished person and adopted son of our region, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.