CEO- Dartmoor Zoo

Posted: 7 November 2023| Permanent| £50,000 – £60,000 per annum depending on experienceDartmoor Zoo in Sparkwell Devon, flexible working 


Dartmoor Zoo is set in 33 acres of beautiful, wooded countryside on the edge of Dartmoor, and is home of the Hollywood Film “We Bought a Zoo”, based on the book written by Benjamin Mee. The Zoo became a charity in 2014 (Dartmoor Zoological Society).

Dartmoor Zoological Society aims to promote the conservation, care and breeding of wildlife and threatened species, encouraging and developing public interest in and awareness of the importance of ensuring the survival of species and the diversity of life. We aim to raise awareness and funds for animal conservation, welfare and education projects and to support conservation in the wild.

Help us make even more of a difference in wildlife conservation, education and research.

Following the recent resignation of our COO to move to a new role outside the Zoo sector we have taken the decision to combine the roles of COO and CEO and recruit a new CEO. The existing voluntary CEO, Benjamin Mee will remain a trustee and will also become the President of Dartmoor Zoological Society.

Role Profile

Based: Dartmoor Zoo in Sparkwell Devon, flexible working given.

Salary: £50,000 – £60,000 per annum depending on experience

Hours: Full time (37.5 hours per week).

Annual Leave: 22 days plus bank holidays

Benefits: flexible working, enhanced sick pay scheme, free parking, cycle to work scheme, discount in restaurant, giftshop and on experiences, free access to zoo for immediate family, free entrance to other BIAZA zoos.

Reporting to: Chairperson of Trustees.

purpose of the role

You will be the senior paid employee of Dartmoor Zoological Society (the Charity) and will ensure effective day-to-day control of the Charity and its trading subsidiary. You will manage the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and undertake the day-to-day management of the Charity delivering the strategic vision set by the trustees.


As CEO you shall have the day-to-day responsibility of managing the Charity within the structures set by the Trustees.

To support the trustees to deliver leadership to the Charity within the governance framework of the Charity Commission ensuring the contribution of employees and volunteers is co- ordinated effectively to deliver the Charity’s objectives in a manner that is consistent with the Charity’s values.

You report to the Board of Trustees, who have been recruited at various times for their specific skills and knowledge base. They have a diverse range of backgrounds, including finance, business, law and zoo management. All of whom have an understanding of animals and conservation.

You work closely with the Chairperson in preparing and reviewing plans and priorities for the Board and you shall provide appropriate information and advice to the Chairperson and Trustees to enable them to execute their duties responsibly in the best interests of the Charity.

The priority challenges for you will be to:

  • Achieve the Charities strategic objectives, as set by the trustees, while preserving the organisation’s distinctive culture and values.
    Lead the operational planning process and ensure delivery of appropriate plans and budgets set by the trustees.
  • Create and provide leadership to a mutually supportive Senior Management Team in which individual roles are clearly defined.
  • Manage the activities of the Charity’s subsidiary companies.
  • Ensure that the Charity and its subsidiaries comply with all relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and that risk factors are identified and managed in order to protect the Charity’s interests.
  • Act as one of the key spokespersons for the Charity and model the Charity’s values in order to motivate and inspire the Charity’s staff and to communicate the Charity’s objectives effectively.
  • Hold overall responsibility for the outward appearance of the Park and the way the Charity presents itself to the public including compliant and engaging signage, talks, and visual maintenance tasks.
  • Have responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Charity.
  • Ensuring that the vision and strategic plans of the Trustees are implemented to allow the Charity to achieve its goals and objectives. Foster good management practice with a strong emphasis on internal communications and a culture of enthusiasm and empowerment
  • Ensure that the Charity’s operational activities are aligned to the strategic objectives set by the trustees and ensure that the Charity achieves its targets and budgets.
  • Manage Charity wide projects.
  • Ensure that the Charity is operating smoothly and income is being generated from visitors and funders
  • Ensure exhibit development within a strategic plan for the Charity.
  • Ensure that the Zoo is devising events onsite and take part in strategic offsite events in order to raise the profile of the Charity and visitor numbers. This includes the formulation of marketing and social media campaigns in the lead up to the events in order to get maximum engagement.
  • Keep a cool head in a case of emergency. You will have overall responsibility for planning for emergencies and the co-ordination of activities. Support the Firearms Lead to manage the firearms held by the Charity and ensure the safety of the team. Ensuring that the Firearms Lead is supported and their plans are regularly updated and followed.

People management

Have overall responsibility for the resources held or otherwise made available to the Charity. Manage the following senior management team roles:

Head of Finance;
Director of Animal Care and Veterinary Services; Director of Commercial Operations;
Head of Compliance and Resources;
Head of Education and Research
and for the right person with skills in the areas below, the following management roles:  
Maintenance Manager;
Fundraising Lead;
Marketing Manager.

  • Have overall responsibility for the integrity of the business management systems working closely with the Head of Compliance and Resources instigating review and development where required or to enhance the offering of the Charity.
  • Understand the Charity’s business management system and respond to questions appropriately.
  • Instigate system improvements where needed.
  • Review & update policies and procedures.
  • Support the other members of the senior management team and whole Zoo in making efficiencies (working practices, direct costs, value for money, staff hours, volunteer use, donation effectiveness, prioritisation).
  • Assist the trustees in setting performance indicators for the departments and coordinate the performance management process with the senior management team members
  • Manage the budgets assigned to you and understand the overall finances of the Charity.
  • Liaising with people in and outside of the Charity, along with the other members of the senior management team:
    manage contractor relationships;
    liaise with authorities and outside agencies; and
    build strong relationships with our team.
  • Be a pillar of support for the senior management team and Board of Trustees. 
  • Support the trustees in all Zoo related activities.
  • Be the contact point for requests and questions.
  • Develop the business plan.
  • Have overall responsibility for the development of the marketing plan.
  • Lead projects as requested
  • Prepare a regular report for the Board of Trustees on the overall position of the Charity
  • As the main communication tool used by the Charity to communicate to the public ensure that the Charity’s Website is operating effectively and has an appropriate structure.
  • Have overall responsibility for supporting the Board of Trustees and managing the secretariat through the Head of Compliance and Resources.
  • Ensure delivery of all necessary compliance requirements through the Head of Compliance and Resources.

Other responsibilities

  • Engage with all marketing and fundraising campaigns.
  • Comply with the Charity’s policies, procedures, monitoring and management systems.
  • Promote the Charity’s Equal Opportunities, Environmental and Health and Safety policies.
  • Undertake any other tasks that may be requested from time-to-time as may be consistent with the nature and scope of the post.

application process

Please fill in the Dartmoor Zoo Application Form from our website (, highlighting your relevant skills, experience and how you could help us make a difference for wildlife conservation, education and research. Send your completed form to Clare Lee ( by 20 November2023.

We will interview upon application.

If you have any questions or would like an informal discussion with the current COO or Chairperson, please call 01752 837645.

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