The Wildheart Trust
The Wildheart Trust is a registered charity which is dedicated to realising its global ambitions to make a meaningful impact on the health of the natural world while actively improving the well-being of animals in human care. The Trust runs the Isle of Wight Zoo and provides governance for its conservation aims.
The Trust has a unique and intimate style of engaging, involving and empowering people from the heart and the head. It sees one of its most important challenges being to convert ‘care’ into ‘action’.
With the ‘Sixth Extinction’ crisis looming time is of the essence to encourage an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation/restoration of the natural world so that everyone can play a vital role in preserving as much biodiversity as possible.
The Trust currently provides funding and technical support to in-situ conservation programmes for tigers in India, lemurs in Madagascar and native species here in the UK. The Trust has ambitions to grow its in-situ conservation.
Animal welfare is top of the agenda at the Zoo with the emphasis on treating each animal as an individual. The compassionate and skilled animal care teams are supported by a talented and dedicated body of veterinary advisors. The Trust is also committed to raising awareness and influencing improvements to animal welfare externally across a range of areas from pet ownership to the consumption of animal products.
Leading on from this, another central function of the Trust lies in providing forever homes for big cats and other exotic animals which have been rescued from circuses or the pet trade. Big cat care has been at the heart of the Zoo for several decades and it is now internationally renowned for its work in this specialist area. While the animal residents are not exclusively from a rescue background, priority is given to rescue individuals when seeking animal ambassadors for educational causes.
The Wildheart Trust is a young, dynamic and determined charity which is flourishing under the care of its Trustees and the commitment of its team. It was founded by Charlotte Corney, former CEO of the Isle of Wight Zoo. She inherited the zoo from her parents, Jack and Judith Corney and has dedicated her life to conservation and animal welfare. Her partner, Chris Packham, is a Trustee of The Wildheart Trust and champions its cause.
This is a critical time for the Trust as it evolves as a gateway to possible solutions which aim to correct the imbalance humans have brought about in our world. It believes that everyone is a custodian of the planet and has the capacity to be a part of this movement.
Our mission is: To inspire and empower people to take positive action to protect our planet and the animals we share it with
In turn we hope that this would lead us to make a large impact on our vision which is one WHERE PEOPLE CARE AND CONSERVE OUR PLANET AND THE ANIMALS WE SHARE IT WITH.
We have five aims in support of our mission and these are that:
- We CONNECT people to animals and the environment
- We PARTNER with and support organisations worldwide at the front-lines of conservation, sustainability and animal welfare.
- We provide REFUGE for rescued big cats who are in need of a lifelong home.
- We provide the highest standards of WELFARE for all the animals in our care.
- We develop into a flourishing CHARITY that is an integral part of our community.
Chair of Trustees
Kit has been a veterinary surgeon for over 30 years working in a variety of roles in private practice and the universities including setting up and running a large referral practic...More about Kit
David acts as a non-executive director supporting businesses to develop and deliver commercially focussed strategies using his proven ability to manage projects that deliver cost e...More about David
Charlottes parents bought the IOW Zoo when she was a baby. She grew up helping to evolve it from the ‘Slum Zoo of Britain’ into a well-respected centre for the care and conservatio...More about Charlotte
Neil recently returned to the UK after almost 30 years in Canada and the US where he practised commercial law in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. He holds law degrees from the U...More about Neil
"I've actively loved wildlife all my life, from running my local nature club at the age of seven to being a Trustee at the Wild Heart Trust forty years later!” says Alexia Fishwick...More about Alexia
Johanna Hutchinson is Head of Data at The Pensions Regulator. Johanna is an experienced data specialist with a history of encouraging best practice and innovation in data use acros...More about Johanna
Chris is a naturalist, broadcaster and author. When he was knee-high to a grasshopper he fell head over heels for ladybirds and other native animals living in his back garden. He s...More about Christopher
Chair of Trustees
Kit has been a veterinary surgeon for over 30 years working in a variety of roles in private practice and the universities including setting up and running a large referral practice. He has a PhD in immunology and further professional qualifications in cardiology, internal medicine and imaging. Kit is a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) the highest award the College gives. Kit has a strong role in education, writing articles and books as well as delivering lectures all over the world. Kit has a wide experience of governance in a variety of charities and other organisations including school governorship and Treasurer of the RCVS. Kit has been working with the zoo for nearly 5 years providing his advanced veterinary skills to support the care and welfare of the zoo residents. He has been a trustee of the Wildheart Trust since 2017 bringing his veterinary, financial and governance skills to the board.
David acts as a non-executive director supporting businesses to develop and deliver commercially focussed strategies using his proven ability to manage projects that deliver cost effective results. During his long career in the accountancy profession, including 25 years as a partner in Grant Thornton UK LLP, he built strong local relationships and networks as a former President of the Southampton and Fareham Chamber of Commerce along with local media relationships. David has had an interest in wildlife and conservation since he was a boy and as a Trustee uses his experience to assist the Trust in its conservation work, with particular emphasis on finance and corporate governance.
Charlottes parents bought the IOW Zoo when she was a baby. She grew up helping to evolve it from the ‘Slum Zoo of Britain’ into a well-respected centre for the care and conservation of animals. Her childhood years were colourfully chaotic leaving her with cherished memories of beach walks with big cats. When university life was calling she accepted an offer to hand-raise a tiger, Zia, who was to secure her commitment to the zoo where she has been based ever since. Her work has taken her to remote Sumatran jungles and the forests of central India. She took over management of the zoo in 2003 when her father passed away. In 2017 her ambition to turn the zoo into a charity was granted with the birth of The Wildheart Trust. In May 2018 she stepped aside from her role as CEO and is now focussing on developing the Trust. She believes that “we are all conservationists at heart and armed with the right knowledge in the head and tools in the hand everyone can take better care of animals and the environment”. Her domestic life is ruled by two giant rabbits, Otto and Abella!
Neil recently returned to the UK after almost 30 years in Canada and the US where he practised commercial law in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. He holds law degrees from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Toronto. He and his family have settled on the Isle of Wight, where his partner was born and raised. Neil is thrilled to join the board of the Wildheart Trust and be able to lend his legal and commercial skills to such a worthwhile organisation.
"I've actively loved wildlife all my life, from running my local nature club at the age of seven to being a Trustee at the Wild Heart Trust forty years later!” says Alexia Fishwick. In between times Alexia studied Humanities at Nottingham Trent University, and completed her Masters in International Communications at London City University. Her thesis explored how Greenpeace exploited the media to change perception of Shell's disposal of its Brent Spar oil platform. She has worked in marketing for financial services companies in the City of London, and raised two daughters. She frequently travels to observe and study wildlife, and writes about her feelings towards our amazing planet.
Johanna Hutchinson is Head of Data at The Pensions Regulator. Johanna is an experienced data specialist with a history of encouraging best practice and innovation in data use across government. She is skilled in strategy, analytics, regulation and lecturing and has a PhD in Comparative Psychology from University of Liverpool. Previous to her career in the public sector Johanna worked as a conservation biologist where her specialism was on the impact of human interference on gorillas and chimpanzees populations. She spend much of her 20’s living in a tent in the rainforest chasing apes and studying orphans from the bushmeat trade. She still loves a good adventure and regularly undertakes backpacking trips in far flung locations with her husband and two young boys in search of amazing wildlife.
Chris is a naturalist, broadcaster and author. When he was knee-high to a grasshopper he fell head over heels for ladybirds and other native animals living in his back garden. He studied Zoology at Southampton University before training as a wildlife film cameraman. As a presenter, it’s now his job to engage audiences on a global scale, mobilising people to take action for wildlife. He is driven by a determination to leave the world having done everything in his power to end the war on wildlife and has recently released the first ‘People’s Manifesto for Wildlife’ which aims to contribute to that cause. He is the vice-president of the RSPB along with a number of other charities and works hard to support them, while independently campaigning on issues such as raptor persecution and the badger cull. He has a miniature poodle, Scratchy, who is the epicentre of his universe.
VERONICA CHRISP, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Veronica is a Zoo professional having worked with a variety of such institutions for over 25 years.
Before arriving on the Isle of Wight, she held senior executive positions at Howlett’s and Port Lympne, Dublin Zoo, WWT Slimbridge and London Zoo to name but a few.
Veronica has been the CEO of the Isle of Wight Zoo and the Wildheart Trust since May 2018. She was taken on by the newly formed Charity to take the business forward in line with its mission and vision and this she is doing with gusto!
Whilst forming a longer-term strategic plan, Veronica’s current key objective is to ensure that the Zoo is financially sustainable in order that the work to rescue and rehabilitate exotic animals can continue unabated. “The recent high-profile rescue of five tigers and two lions from the circus trade in Spain is just the tip of the iceberg – there are so many deserving cases out there. We need to up our game for their sake!”
“I have been given the most marvellous opportunity to work with an organisation that cares deeply about the things that I too hold dear. As a collective, we are humane and caring, dynamic, savvy, thoughtful, impatient and passionate about our environment. All I need to do is harness all that to ensure that the Wildheart Trust becomes the most amazing force for good.
Watch this space!
Modern science is constantly re-framing our perception of how animals think and feel and this only motivates us to try even harder to improve their well-being. Our animals benefit from bespoke care from people who become their friends and family.
One of our most treasured aims as a charity is to give safe and loving forever homes to big cats and other animals which have been abused in circuses and the pet trade and we do this through the Isle of Wight Zoo. The Zoo relies on admissions and donations to run and any financial help whether big or small is really appreciated. Here are a few ways that you can help The Wildheart Trust in its fundraising efforts:
- Come and visit the Isle of Wight Zoo – see for yourself the difference we are making to the lives of our rescued animals and find out how their wild relatives are adapting to life with an even increasing human population.
- Support The Wildheart Trust with a cash donation which can either be made on The Wildheart Trust ‘Just Giving’ page or by posting a cheque (made out the The Wildheart Trust) to the Isle of Wight Zoo, Sandown, IOW, PO36 8QB
- Adopt one of our animals. This can be done in our shop at the Isle of Wight Zoo – or by contacting our retail team.
- Become a volunteer at the Isle of Wight Zoo. For more information please email our volunteer coordinator.
- Book an animal experience with us – this is a guaranteed way of meeting our animals up close and personal alongside one of our animal carers.
- Fundraise for the zoo – please contact us for a fundraising pack.