Mr. Harden, a 53-year-old New Jersey native, was executive director of the Wisconsin-based National Funeral Directors Association until he stepped down in 2001. A year later, he became chief operating officer of the Toledo Zoo.
"After 14 years and millions of miles of travel, my wife and I decided it was time for a change," Mr. Harden said last week.
During his time with the zoo, Mr. Harden has been responsible for finance, human resources, maintenance and horticulture, interpretive services, education, and veterinary care.
Mr. Harden, who has a bachelor s degree in management from Rider University and a master s degree in banking from Fairleigh Dickinson University, admits that he is not an expert when it comes to animals.
Mr. Harden served as corporate secretary to the New Jersey Bankers Association for 10 years before heading the Funeral Directors Association.
During Mr. Harden s tenure, the zoo has been involved in a series of land acquisitions that could be used for expanded exhibits and parking.
"We ve got a $20 million budget and the voters of Lucas County expect it to be run as efficiently and effectively as it needs to be," Mr. Harden said.
Mr. Harden s annual salary is $115,581. He also is given $3,500 to lease a car for personal use.