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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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.


Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂


Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less


Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?


Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

I fell for the mouse thing too..

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!


Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Comment on Facebook

Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl


thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm


Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕


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