The TV host and wildlife expert, 62, said he was “thrilled” to be appointed after being a vice president at the animal welfare charity for almost 15 years.
Speaking from The RSPCA Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, he said: “I am immensely proud to take on the role of president of the RSPCA – the world’s oldest and largest animal charity.
“Animals have changed my life, whether it be the beauty of nature, or the companionship of my beautiful dogs.
“We are at a pivotal moment for animal welfare, and the decisions we make will have huge repercussions for animals all over the world. Everywhere we look there are human issues that are affecting animals and it’s imperative that we make change, for the better.”
The announcement comes after Mr Packham cancelled all TV work for the first time in four decades earlier this year after feeling completely “burnt out”.
In September, the presenter spoke about how he believed his stance on foxhunting is what caused him to be targeted in a firebombing in autumn 2020.
He said attacks on his property are “more common when fox season starts” because he openly calls for an end to the “unnecessary cruelty” of the sport.
The firebombing was the latest in a string of incidents targeting the conservationist, who has received death threats.
Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, said: “Chris is much loved and a well respected voice for all animals who speaks to a wide range of society.
“Like us, Chris is ambitious for animals and we have a huge amount we want to achieve by 2030 and beyond, and his passion and expertise will help us get there.”
Mr Packham, who helped the Express raise money to restore Horse Common in the New Forest, has this month taken three men to court in a libel claim covering nine articles, which included allegations he defrauded and “manipulated” people into donating to a charity to rescue tigers while knowing the animals were well looked after.
The strongly denied allegations relate to the broadcaster’s involvement with the Wildheart Trust, which runs a wildlife sanctuary on the Isle of Wight.
Dominic Wightman, the editor of the online site Country Squire Magazine, was defending the libel claim along with Nigel Bean, a writer, and a third man, Paul Read.
A decision from the trial before Mr Justice Saini is expected at a later date.
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