Prominent Zoological Leader Lee Ehmke to Head Houston Zoo

Please join us in welcoming our next President and CEO, Lee Ehmke. He will begin this new role on September 8, 2015.  Lee Ehmke - Forslin-1174

Lee is the current Director/Chief Executive of the Minnesota Zoological Garden and President of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation. There he directs all aspects of the 485-acre zoological park and serves as its primary spokesperson and representative in governmental, community, media, and professional forums.

Lee serves as the elected President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), a global association of more than 300 member institutions, which serves as a catalyst for their joint action on behalf of biodiversity and habitat conservation and sustainability. His two-year term as President of WAZA will end in October 2015, but he will remain active in national and international zoological and conservation initiatives, deepening the Houston Zoo’s leadership in these critical efforts.

Prior to joining the Minnesota Zoo, Ehmke was the director of Planning and Design at New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), headquartered at the Bronx Zoo. In his 12 years at WCS, Ehmke led the design and managed construction of numerous award winning Bronx Zoo projects, including its signature Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit. This acclaimed habitat was also home to three of the Houston Zoo’s new western lowland gorillas prior to their arrival in the Bayou City. Originally trained and practicing as a land use attorney, Ehmke received a masters degree in landscape architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.

We congratulate Deborah Cannon on her retirement after ten years at the helm of the Houston Zoo. Under her leadership, the Zoo entered an era of growth and financial stability. New and strengthened sources of revenue, enhanced guest services, creative programming, and new and revitalized habitats – including the recently opened gorilla habitat – have resulted in revenues and memberships more than doubling during Cannon’s tenure and investments of more than $120 million to enhance and upgrade the quality of the Zoo’s offerings and animal welfare. Deborah will be retiring effective August 3, 2015. David Brady, Houston Zoo’s Executive Vice President, has agreed to serve as interim CEO during the period between August 3, 2015 and September 8, 2015.

We know that you will provide a warm welcome to Lee as he prepares to lead the Houston Zoo toward its 100th anniversary and beyond.

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