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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Leadership Change

Media Alert: Wednesday, August 22, 2012


August 22, 2012

Patty Peters                                                         
Vice President Community Relations

POWELL, OH - Columbus Zoo and Aquarium COO Tom Stalf has assumed the role of interim President and CEO following the departure of Dale Schmidt. In a special meeting on Aug. 21 the Zoo’s Board of Directors accepted his resignation for personal reasons effective immediately.
Tom Stalf joined the Columbus Zoo as COO in July 2010. He previously served as director of the Niabi Zoo in Ill. for 18 years.
“Because of his years of experience at the Columbus Zoo and the positions he has held prior to coming to central Ohio, we are confident in Tom’s leadership and know the transition will be seamless,” said Board Chair Tim May. “He has our full support as well as that of the staff and Director Emeritus Jack Hanna, who will be working closely with Tom during this transition.”
“The Columbus Zoo team will continue our commitment to the community, animal welfare and to providing up-close and unique personal experiences for our guests” said Stalf.
The board will announce plans at a later date regarding a search for a new president and CEO.
Dale Schmidt served as president during a transition period that began with the passing of previous CEO Jeff Swanagan. During this time the Zoo opened the Polar Frontier exhibit, took on the operational and financial responsibility of the Wilds and recently announced the construction of a $30 million Safari Africa exhibit that will open in the summer of 2014.
Announcing his resignation Dale Schmidt stated: “We completed a difficult transition, set revenue and attendance records, weathered a national crisis and opened an award winning exhibit all in my four years. These are accomplishments that would normally take a decade. I am thankful to the staff, senior team, the Boards, and the community whose support was instrumental during my tenure.”
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 575 species from around the globe. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; contributing more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.