Latest news in Yorkshire: October 03, 2018 03:58:38 PM
The co-founder of Yorkshire Wildlife Park has been named as one of the
country’s leading business figures.
John Minion, who has guided the park from humble beginnings to the UK’s
No.1 walkthrough wildlife adventure in less than a decade, was hailed
for his business drive and commitment to animal welfare.
He was selected for the honour by a panel of experts who were impressed
by the park’s rapid growth as a business and its impact as a force for
CEO John, who started the park in 2008 with business partner Cheryl
Williams, and his team have set new visitor records every year, winning
a string of awards along the way with his naming in the Lloyds Bank LDC
Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders list the latest accolade.
“The founders of Yorkshire Wildlife Park acquired a run-down farm and
equestrian centre with the vision of creating a modern and innovative
wildlife park different from anything in the zoo world,” said Dan Smith,
“John has focused no promoting animal welfare from the outset, winning
the admiration and support of fans across the world. He has huge
ambitions to turn the park into major year-round attraction in Yorkshire
and is investing in that growth right now. It’s an incredibly exciting
The park, at Branton, near Doncaster, now employs 300 staff, makes a
significant contribution to the local economy, and welcomes 750,000
visitors a year. It has exciting plans for a £56 million development on
150 acres which would increase the capacity for animals and add extra
facilities including a 150-bedroom hotel.
“We had this crazy idea to open a zoo,” says John, 42, who had looked
after elephants at Woburn Safari Park.
“We knew that it was in a good area for a wildlife park but we had no
idea how successful we would be.
“We aimed to reach 400,000 visitors and then hit that target within four
John added: “We have always been ambitious. During our first year in
business, I got a call from a friend telling me about this terrible zoo
in Romania. We decided to rescue 13 lions from there, and I flew over
and was greeted by the local mafia. We spent six months negotiating the
rescue, and the News of the World covered the story, helping us to raise
£150,000 in donations for lion enclosure and transport. It really helped
put us on people’s radar and we’ve kept up those conservation efforts
“I love our animals. They are amazing and it is a pleasure to step out
of my office and see them every day. I get such a buzz out of growing
this business and creating a modern, successful wildlife park that is
inspiring best practice across the industry.”
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