TOLEDO ZOO: AT THE HELM TODAY

Landmark changes mark executive director s tenure

3/13/2005
BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
CTY-zoo17p-9-jpg-William-Dennler

William Dennler

THE BLADE

William Dennler
William Dennler

In three decades, William Dennler has gone from working with the snakes to leader of the 104-year-old Toledo Zoo.

Mr. Dennler, 56 of Schenectady, N.Y. , came to Toledo from the Cincinnati Zoo in 1975 as curator of reptiles. In 1981, he was named the fourth director of the Toledo Zoo.

A year later, the zoo began to experience some landmark changes as the Toledo Zoological Society took full-control of operations. Under the new arrangement, the zoo was run as a private, nonprofit entity, and the city-based Zoo Board of Managers was abolished.

A number of transformations and projects have encompassed the zoo during Mr. Dennler s 23-year watch as director.

Soon after his arrival, the conservatory and greenhouses were renovated.

The Children s Zoo opened in 1983. In the 1980s, the Lights Before Christmas display began. Other major developments have included the Carnivore Cafe and a new gift shop and visitor center.

Last year, in perhaps the zoo s most ambitious project ever, the exhibit Africa! opened, featuring 14 species including two giraffes, Grant s zebras, white-bearded wildebeests, Abyssinian blue-winged geese, impalas, and ostriches.

Mr. Dennler is among the highest paid public administrators in Toledo. He receives a salary of $150,000 a year. The zoo also pays $12,750 a year for his share of contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System, $3,220 for personal use of a vehicle, and $7,980 for a membership at the Toledo Country Club.