Fi Marchant

Four Recipients of BIAZA Honorary Membership

Posted: 19th April, 2021

BIAZA Honorary membership recognises the efforts of an individual who has gone above and beyond to significantly contribute to BIAZA’s activities, through the wider BIAZA community (including Council, committees or working groups). BIAZA Council has recently granted four individuals with this honor – read on to find out more about them.


Mark Pilgrim

Mark worked at Chester Zoo from 1988 to 2021, starting as a Bird Keeper and rising through the ranks, finally became CEO in 2010. Mark oversaw Chester during the record-breaking year for visitor numbers 2019 and the unprecedented Covid closures of 2020. During his time as CEO he was instrumental in the development and implementation of the zoo's strategic development plan (including the word class 'Islands' exhibit which showcases endangered species of South East Asia). He achievements include the supervision of hundreds of students, writing husbandry guidelines for the Ecuador Amazon parrot Amazona lilacina, which was identified as a separate species following research undertaken for his PhD (as well as coordinating the EEP for this species since 1991, now the only coordinated programme for this Critically Endangered species globally), being the EEP coordinator for Eastern black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis michaeli and coordinating the largest ever transport of rhinos from Europe to Africa in 2019, sitting on BIAZA Council 2011-2017, being instrumental in setting up the Elephant Welfare Group in 2010/11 and Chairing the group until 2014.


Sarah Bird

Sarah spent around 20 years of her career working at Chester Zoo as their Biodiversity Officer. During this time, Sarah has made a huge contribution to the BIAZA Native Species Working Group and has supported the development of colleagues both within the zoo and in the wider industry. Some of Sarah’s notable achievements include: playing an active role within the Native Species Working Group for over a decade (having been part of the group since its creation), co-leading on the NSWG Reintroduction Advisory Group, hosting several joint NSWG conferences and workshops on Native Species and the Law, the development of the 60,000 square meter nature reserve at Chester Zoo, wildlife advocacy work, including commenting on the State of Nature Report on behalf of Chester Zoo, forging links with the local BRC and working on projects to increase wildlife recording in zoo visitors, and working on the sand lizard releases on the Dee Estuary with Chester Zoo.


Simon Tonge

Simon Tonge started his zoo career at Jersey Zoo working as a herpetologist in the Reptile House, where he was involved in developing successful breeding programmes for many species not previously kept in captivity, including instigating the breeding and release programme for the critically endangered Mallorcan midwife toad. In 2000, Simon was appointed Director of Paignton Zoo and the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, now Wild Planet Trust, where he remained for 20 years.  While there he oversaw a huge increase in their conservation and scientific work as well as expanding an already strong education programme, completed and opened Living Coasts, and oversaw the Trust take over of Newquay Zoo where again there was a significant increase in their contribution to in situ and ex situ conservation work. Simon was involved in both BIAZA’s Membership and Licensing Committee and as Chair of BIAZA Council – his Chairmanship included overseeing BIAZA revising its constitution and became an incorporated charitable company as well as starting the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group).


Terry Hornsey

Terry Hornsey has worked in zoos for 43 years. Starting as a Trainee keeper at London Zoo in 1978, he specialised in hoofstock and in 1981, was seconded by ZSL as part of an initial team of five animal keeping staff, to assist in the setting up of The National Zoo of Qatar. In 1993 he joined the Suffolk Wildlife Park, recently purchased by Banham Zoo. In 2006 the park was rebranded and renamed Africa Alive!. Terry’s most recent position at the park was Animal Manager and he is also Chair of the European Cattle & Camelid Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG), Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) Convenor for the Anoa and C0-Leader of the GSMP Fundraising Working Group. He is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Saola Working Groups Captive Breeding Task Team Leader, and is on the Species Committees for Fossa and Black Lemur. In the past, he has also been a Year 1 & Year 2 National Assessor and Co-ordinator for the BIAZA Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals.