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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 15:48 GMT
Zoo founder is region's top hero
Gerald Durrell
Gerald Durrell: Zoos have a duty to save species
Jersey Zoo's founder Gerald Durrell has won the title of South West Hero.

The conservationist, who died in 1995 aged 70, beat 42 other nominees to become the region's top figurehead.

The results of a BBC poll to find the South West Hero were revealed on BBC One.

Among the contenders for the title were King Arthur and author Thomas Hardy and Jersey's nominations included Sir Walter Raleigh, Billy Butlin and World War II hero Albert Bedane.

Indian-born conservationist Durrell moved to England when he was three, then settled on the Greek island of Corfu.

I think it's a huge victory for Jersey
Mark Stanley Price
It was while working as a student keeper, seeing the threats to creatures in the wild, that he pioneered his philosophy that zoos had a duty to save species from extinction.

He set up Jersey Zoo in 1959, and later the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

He also wrote 37 books, inspiring future generations to care for animals.

Mark Stanley Price, executive director of the Trust, said: "I'd like to think that there's an opportunity here in the huge sense of new identity.

"This is a triumph obviously for the Trust and the work we do and I think it's a huge victory for Jersey.

"It is a small community sending a very strong signal and we identify as a Trust very strongly with Jersey and I think South West England is starting to identify very strongly with the Channel Islands.

"I think if that is the case then there are huge opportunities for tourism and so on."

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