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Letter: Unheeded demands at London Zoo

Sir: I read with interest the article by Susan Watts ('Setback in campaign to save London Zoo', 3 September) and I write to draw attention to some additional facts about the behaviour of the Council of the Zoological Society of London.

As has been reported previously in your newspaper, the motion of no confidence in the society's council was passed with a great majority at the special general meeting (SGM) in July.

This was a constitutionally convened meeting, but the council decided to ignore the meeting's decision and go for a postal ballot of the whole Fellowship, thus expressing its contempt for the constitution of the society it is supposed to serve and whose constitution it is meant to uphold. One wonders whether they would have called for a postal ballot if the vote had gone their way.

The convening of a SGM is the only means Fellows have of influencing the council. The meeting was attended by more than 200 Fellows, far more than is needed for a quorum. Therefore, the decision at the meeting was binding on the council. Furthermore, evidence presented at the SGM showed that London Zoo could remain viable if managed correctly, but this evidence has not been publicised by the council.

In addition, the council has circulated a letter to Fellows, saying that they would resign if they lost the motion, but that if they won the motion 'the Reform Group would have to renounce their hostile public campaign'. In other words, the council will not accept any criticism or opposing points of view from the society's Fellowship and, while asking for help and support from the public, it will not allow its shortcomings and failures to become publicly known.

The letter from the council also states that the Reform Group should 'work within the recognised constitutional framework of the society', which is exactly what the Reform Group and other Fellows did (by convening the SGM), but the council itself refused to work within that framework, by ignoring the result of the meeting.

Your readers must draw their own conclusions as to whether a council that can behave in this way is fit to run London Zoo. Suffice to say that many individuals and organisations that are willing to help the zoo have declined to do so as long as the present council continues to hold office, and that members of the Reform Group have been far more successful at raising large sums of money (literally millions of pounds) for conservation purposes than any member of the council has been. It is time the Reform Group was given the chance to save London Zoo.

Yours sincerely,


Little Eversden, Cambridgeshire

3 September

The writer is a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.