He said: “We want people to come to our zoos and to enjoy themselves, and to engage in the wildlife through them — but as an organisation one of my priorities is to put in a strategy for the third century. We are nearly 200 years old now and we are the first scientific-based zoo in the world.
“I would like to see us, in what I call our strategy for the next 100 years, focus ourselves on informing, inspiring and empowering people to take action and stop species going extinct.”
Mr Jermey, 50, wants to create campaigns to build on the concerns young Londoners have about wildlife and the environment, fuelled by TV shows such as Sir David Attenborough ’s Blue Planet series. He said: “We are working with this government on what it is you as a Londoner, what it is you as a visitor, can do. I think our individual campaigns, riding the wave of something like Blue Planet II, should reach young people.
“My question around our organisation is what can we do now that is going to spark a Blue Planet reaction, that is going to use the data we have in such a way that is powerful and changes behaviour. Funding conservation projects over the longer term is a real challenge, and one of the funky projects we have going on is about impact investment we are developing with partners from the City of London.
“If we can get the UK finance community fired up about looking for sustainable investment vehicles and achieve social and conservation outcomes and also make money, that becomes a sustainable financial instrument.”
Mr Jermey previously served as the British ambassador to Afghanistan, a post he held for 18 months until last year, after a stint as CEO of the Government’s UK Trade and Investment body.