MARWELL Wildlife's chief executive is leaving the zoo after 18 years at the helm. 

Dr James Cretney has resigned as head of Marwell Zoo.

During his time at the charity, Dr Cretney oversaw the £3.6m Wild Explorers habitat home to the zoo's white rhinos, Grevy's zebra and scimitar-horned oryx which opened in 2015.

He also secured major funding for the pioneering £8.5 million Energy for Life: Tropical House, which opened in 2019. The habitat became the first of its kind to generate renewable energy using zoo poo, saving the equivalent of 220 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and boosting the organisation to carbon-neutral status. 

Under his leadership, the charity has won awards such as being named twice in the top Sunday Times' 100 UK Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to work for, the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development as well as winning Business of the Year and the Sustainable Business Award at the Winchester Business Excellence Awards.  

READ MORE: Marwell Zoo achieves carbon neutral status after hitting targets

Andover Advertiser: Dr James Cretney (left) at the Winchester Business AwardsDr James Cretney (left) at the Winchester Business Awards (Image: Stuart Martin)

Marwell has also been announced as a finalist for this year's WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Conservation Award for its work reintroducing extinct-in-the-wild scimitar-horned oryx in North Africa. 

Frank McCaffrey, chairman of trustees for Marwell Wildlife, said: "The trustees on behalf of the whole Marwell family and themselves would like to express their sincere thanks to James who has led the transformation of the zoo, over the last 18 years, to the iconic, vibrant and modern zoo that we know today. 

SEE ALSO: Critically endangered African wild ass born at Marwell Zoo

Andover Advertiser: Dr James Cretney and his teamDr James Cretney and his team (Image: Marwell Wildlife)

“The leadership shown during major projects such as Wild Explorers and the Tropical House and latterly through the challenges of Covid-19, the energy crisis and avian flu has been truly remarkable. He will be sorely missed and we wish him every success and happiness in the future." 

Dr Cretney said: "I have been truly blessed to work with such dedicated and wonderful people and with a charitable cause, which without exaggeration is central to our survival, albeit we play a tiny part. 

"It has been a real honour to lead and serve Marwell. Together we have achieved many great things and Marwell remains at the forefront of the zoo community, both here in the UK and globally for so many initiatives." 

The outgoing chief executive will continue to lead the charity while the recruitment process is underway.