Jamie Christon DL

Jamie Christon is the Chief Executive of Chester Zoo and was chosen as one of 10 new honorary fellows during LJMU’s Bicentenary year. He was presented by Professor Clare Milsom, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, at a special ceremony at St George’s Hall which took place in November 2023.

The honour reflects his work driving forward conservation at the zoo, preventing extinction in a changing world, and working collaboratively with organisations, partners, and visitors.

LJMU works regularly with Chester Zoo, using expertise and research to support their conservation efforts, including using AI and drone technology, as well as offering opportunities for student collaboration throughout their studies.

“I am very proud. This is a reflection of the work Chester Zoo does as a conservation education charity and its strong link with LJMU and other universities.”

– Jamie Christon

Originally from North Yorkshire and a BA(Hons) Political Science and Government graduate, Jamie spent the first part of his career in Highstreet food and retail department store management. He took these skills to Manchester Airport Group, where he headed up commercial operations before becoming Managing Director at Exeter Airport in Devon, where he managed the transition from local authority to private sector ownership.

Jamie took responsibility for on-board operations of Stena Line in Europe before joining Chester Zoo in 2013 as chief operating officer and becoming chief executive officer in March 2021.

Jamie reports to the Board of Trustees with responsibilities for the overall leadership of the zoo’s organisational plan, the team of directors and senior managers.

Chester Zoo is one of the world’s leading conservation-based zoos. In 2019, the zoo welcomed over two million visitors, employed 1,000 staff and had a turnover of £46m.

In 2021, the financial recovery of the zoo since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was a key focus for Jamie and the team and in 2022, Jamie re-established the strategic development plan as well as drove the next stage in the Conservation Masterplan, which will take the zoo through to its 100th birthday in 2031.

“I am very proud of having led Chester Zoo through two very tough years during the pandemic. We were closed for 208 days, and with 87% of our income coming from gate admissions, we were really struggling. It was a very difficult time, and I had to stay strong and lead from the front.”

The Conservation Masterplan tackles the biodiversity crisis by combining direct contributions to restoring wildlife populations and landscapes, creating conditions for reversing further loss of biodiversity, engaging people and influencing policy. The Conservation Masterplan dated 2021-2030 is titled “Preventing Extinction in a Changing World”.

Jamie is also a trustee of an HIV charity called Sahir House, which provides vital frontline services to communities in Liverpool and the Merseyside area, including sexual health services and LGBTQ+ support services. The charity is a small team led by Ant Hopkinson that offers support and information on sexual health and wellbeing across the region.