HE HAS driven across the Sahara desert three times, almost run headlong into a revolutionary coup in Nigeria, is an expert in marine biology and has a wealth of experience from a top level career in the hotels and leisure industries.
Now firmly settled in Chester where he has lived for 12 years with his wife Jo and two daughters, Alasdair McNee is looking forward to yet another challenge, having just been appointed to the management team at Chester Zoo.
With this new and demanding role as the zoo’s director of corporate services, life will almost have come ‘full circle’ for him.
Alasdair has a strong empathy with the pioneering research and conservation work which has long been carried out by the zoo, having spent his early childhood years growing up and attending primary school in Zambia.
A country three times the size of Britain, home to the magnificent Victoria Falls and the powerful Zambezi River, it boasts a rich and varied native wildlife, and instilled in him a never to be forgotten sense of respect for his global heritage.
‘I remember once visiting Britain to attend a school in Scotland for a short time after those early days in Zambia. It was a complete culture shock,’ he said.
‘I was so used to the different way of life out there, starting the days much earlier and finishing school when the heat was at its height at 1pm. I was privileged at such a young age to be able to see such wide-ranging species close at hand and in their natural wild habitat.’
The family returned home to Britain by the time Alasdair was due to attend high school, living in the Lake District for several years before he went on to Scotland and eventually studied marine biology at university.
But his love of Africa and passion for the natural world stayed with him into adulthood. One of his first jobs was as assistant manager at Britain’s first Sea Life centre when it opened in Oban, Scotland.
He has also worked as an adventure tour guide, leading parties of tourists on trips around the African continent.
He also travelled extensively in the Congo, safari and big game parks and crossed the fascinating but unforgiving desert terrain of the Sahara no fewer than three times.