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Published: Friday, 6/16/2006

Zoo starts national search for a top animal manager

BY JENNI LAIDMAN
BLADE SCIENCE WRITER

The Toledo Zoo began a nationwide search Wednesday for a deputy director who will act as the institution's top animal manager.

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the Lucas County commissioners, characterized the zoo's move as the fulfillment of "one of the important things that we wanted. That's very good.''

The new position was announced as part of the zoo's quarterly report to the commissioners.

The zoo hasn't had a deputy director with animal experience since 2002, when Doug Porter resigned to take a job in Georgia.

The zoo replaced Mr. Porter with Robert Harden, who had a long career with the National Funeral Directors Association and the New Jersey Bankers Association before coming to the zoo.

The zoo tried to replace Mr. Porter's animal expertise by creating a committee of animal curators. But some said the committee grew into a clique that ultimately turned against the zoo's longtime veterinarian, Dr. Timothy Reichard.

Dr. Reichard was fired in February, 2005. The firing led to the formation of a task force to investigate the zoo.

"I think this is exactly consistent with what the task force had asked for," Ms. Wozniak said of the position. "In my mind, it's another level of animal care. I applaud the move."

The new employee's official title will be deputy director of animals, conservation, and education, said Anne Baker, the zoo's executive director. A salary range has not been determined.

"What I'm seeing we need here is a stronger integration of our core mission: animal care, conservation, and education. I want what we do in one to reflect what we do in the other," Ms. Baker said.

For instance, the zoo has been involved in a program to save Tanzanian toads. In recent months, it put the toads on exhibit. Now, the zoo needs to develop an educational program around the toads, perhaps something on amphibian conservation, she said.

Amphibians are in danger of extinction around the world.

"Our butterfly conservation effort is another example," Ms. Baker said. "We have a wonderful conservation program. And it's beginning to be linked to an educational program. The education department developed a marvelous program on butterflies, but we don't have them on exhibit." That would be the next step.

The deputy director would supervise all animal curators, the veterinarian, the conservation director, and the animal behaviorist.

Applicants must have a degree in zoology, biology, or a related field and a minimum of 10 years experience as an education director, general curator, conservation biologist, or zoologist.

Contact Jenni Laidman at:

jenni@theblade.com

or 419-724-6507.



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