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Zoological Parks and Gardens Board

Zoological Parks and Gardens Board

The Zoological Parks and Gardens Board is the governing body of Victoria’s three great zoos: Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. 

Set up in 1973 as a statutory authority, the board’s role is to protect and promote the zoos and their roles in conservation, research and education.

The board is appointed by the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change. 

The Zoological Parks & Gardens Act 1995

The Zoological Parks and Gardens Act 1995 (version incorporating Amendments as at 5 April 2005). The objectives of the Act are to

  • Conserve, protect, manage and improve the zoological parks and managed land and the zoological collections
  • Promote and increase public enjoyment of the zoological collections, zoological parks and managed land
  • Increase public knowledge and awareness of the zoological collections and the zoological parks through publications, educational programs and advisory services and other activities
  • Carry out an promote zoological research, the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats and the maintenance of biodiversity

The Werribee Zoological Park (now known as Werribee Open Range Zoo) was established by the board in December 1975 and opened to the public in September 1983.

Healesville Sanctuary (originally The Sir Colin MacKenzie Zoological Park) was placed under the management of the Zoological Board on 27 June 1978.

Our Patron

The Hon. Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria


The Chair

Ms Kate Vinot 

Kate was appointed Chair of Zoos Victoria in 2018. She brings extensive Board and senior executive leadership experience to the role. Her particular expertise in strategy and risk management in organisations where excellence in environmental sustainability and community engagement are key for business success. Kate has held executive director roles at the City of Melbourne, Veolia Water, Visy Industries and South East Water, and has experience in strategic, environmental and engineering consulting. Kate is a non-executive director of Parks Victoria, Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee at Parks Victoria, Chair of the Point Nepean Advisory Group, a member of the Uniting Agewell Audit and Risk Committee. Previous board roles include Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water and Water Stewardship Australia. 



Dr. Geoff Wescott (Deputy Chair) 

Geoff was appointed to the Board in 2011. He retired in March from being an Associate Professor of Environment at Deakin University in Melbourne. He is now an Honorary Principal Fellow in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, a member of the World Commission for Protected Areas of the IUCN and Vice President of the Australian Coastal Society. He has served on the Australian National Oceans Advisory Group, the Victorian Coastal Council and Parks Victoria.

Geoff is currently a member of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council and has just published a book (Big, Bold and Blue) on Australia’s marine protected areas. He was also the Chair of an Expert Panel advising the state government on the new Marine and Coastal Act 2018. 




Mr Greg Smith AM 

Mr Smith has had extensive experience in conciliation and arbitration, both in Australia and overseas, through his previous roles with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Industrial Relations Commission and Fair Work Commission. His skills in resolving

industrial disputes across a range of industry sectors through conciliation, mediation and arbitration span over 30 years. His non-executive Director experience includes being the current Board Chair of the Country Fire Authority, and a Director of Ambulance Victoria. Greg is also a Director on the Board of Zoos Victoria. 



Prof  Kenneth Hinchcliff 

President and CEO (Warden), Trinity College; former Dean and Professor, Fac. Vet and Ag Sci, University of Melbourne.

Experienced academic administrator with expertise in higher education and veterinary medicine. Strong business development professional skilled in strategic planning and governance of nonprofit organizations. World recognised expert in equine medicine and exercise physiology and as providing global leadership through membership of key organisations and authorship of leading veterinary textbooks and other publications.



Ms Natasha Bowness 

Natasha was appointed to the Board in April 2013.  She is an Executive Director of Wilbow Group, a private family investment group whose activities include property, listed and unlisted investments and private equity.  She is a Chartered Accountant and has experience in governance, strategy, risk, business management, audit, finance and philanthropy.  Natasha is Chair of the Bowness Family Foundation, a member of The Australian Ballet Foundation Board, President of the Australian Ballet Annual Giving Program and Chair of the Monash Gallery of Art Committee of Management.  She has also been Deputy Chair of Zoos Victoria Foundation Board.



Ms Heather Campbell 

Heather is an experienced executive and Board Director with a passion for Sustainability and Community engagement. She has managed Sustainability for a large corporation globally, a retail property group with over 70 properties in Australia, as well as been CEO of a Not For Profit organisation which linked corporate partners into a network of over 5000 local community groups. She has extensive general management experience operating as an executive, CEO and Board Director focused on stakeholder engagement, sustainability, risk management, safety, and organisational efficiency. Heather has spent over twenty years managing issues such as, government affairs and community relations, risk, sustainability, safety, and environment at the highest levels both locally and internationally within the agricultural, natural resource management, research, retail property, not for profit, paper and packaging industries. 




Dana Hlavacek

Dana Hlavacek is an experienced corporate executive and independent director with expertise in treasury and finance, audit, risk, compliance and governance. Her executive career includes roles in the resources sector and audit and assurance. Dana is a director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, a member of the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust and a member of the Salvation Army Corporate and Philanthropy Committee. Previous director roles include RSPCA Victoria, Melbourne Water Corporation, VicWater and Trustee of the Victorian Arts Centre Trust. Dana is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants ANZ, a graduate member of the AICD, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) and a Master of Accounting.



Bill Whitford

Bill is the longstanding Managing Director of the Treasury Corporation of Victoria, Victoria’s central borrowing authority. He has held this role since July 2003. He is a non-executive Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Australian Financial Markets Association, and is a member of the Investment Committee of Australian Unity. He has previously held non-executive Director roles with the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria and Big Sky Building Society. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees and a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. Bill has more than 30 years’ experience in market risk, gained through financial markets roles with Banque National de Paris and the State Bank of South Australia, and the financing of government and infrastructure with the South Australian and Victorian Governments. He holds an MBA from Adelaide University Graduate School of Management.


Rebecca McKenzie

Rebecca is an accomplished leader with a successful career at executive level across three countries and three sectors. CEO at City of Glen Eira since February 2016, Rebecca’s prior roles have included CEO at Mitchell Shire Council in Melbourne’s north and Director of Corporate Services for Yarra Ranges Council. Before relocating back to Australia in 2009, Rebecca held Director level roles at Swindon Borough Council in the UK and National University of Ireland in Dublin. Rebecca is passionate about local government’s role in creating resilient communities with a sense of pride of place. A values based leader who invests in her people, Rebecca builds strong relationships at all levels, and acts as a mentor and coach for emerging leaders in the sector. Rebecca is also President of LGPro, the member led professional association for local government in Victoria. In this role she is a strong voice for the sector, and is leading LGPro’s advocacy with the State on such issues as legislative reform, sector capability and gender representation.Rebecca’s qualifications include a BA in Government and Sociology, MSc in Strategic Human Resource Management and Grad Cert in Business Administration.  She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.