New Honolulu Zoo director named amid leadership turnover - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New Honolulu Zoo director named amid leadership turnover

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A new director of the Honolulu Zoo was named on Monday amid leadership turnover over the past few years.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has announced Linda Santos as the new director, the first female director in the zoo’s history.

"The process was a very thorough, robust process that looked across the country," Caldwell said during a press conference. "They found the best-suited person right here, working at the zoo, working 30 years and counting."

Santos, who has more than 30 years of experience in animal care and welfare, served as assistant zoo director after former Director Baird Fleming resigned in December 2016.

"Being here for 30 years should say I'm rooted, committed, and hopefully my staff will be as well," Santos said. 

David Earles, executive director of the Honolulu Zoo Society, also issued this statement: "The Zoo Society has  been privileged to work with Linda for many years. We are excited about the future of our zoo under her leadership and look forward to great things to come."

In the past, the zoo has struggled with a high turnover in leadership, going through five directors in six years. The zoo has also dealt with accreditation and funding issues.  

"I hope the troubles of the past are truly behind us, and we look forward to a very bright future here at the zoo," Caldwell said. 

The annual salary for the zoo director is about $164,000.

LEADERSHIP TURNOVER AT HONOLULU ZOO
2009 Stephen Walker, former director of the Tulsa
Oklahoma Zoo, named Honolulu Zoo director.
2011 Manuel Mollinedo is named to the Honolulu Zoo's top spot.
2013 Jeff Mahon hired as zoo director.
2014 Jeffrey Wilkinson takes over the top spot.
2015 Baird Fleming is named Honolulu zoo director. He was previously assistant zoo director

This story will be updated.

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