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AKRON, Ohio – The Akron Zoo announces the resignation of president & CEO, L. Patricia Simmons. Simmons has accepted a position with the North Carolina Zoo, in Asheboro, NC. “It was a difficult decision to leave the Akron Zoo, which is near and dear to my heart. I feel our zoo is in a great place right now and I am leaving at a high point in the zoo’s history,” commented Simmons. Simmons will remain in her current position until August 31, 2014.
Simmons will be joining the North Carolina Zoo as deputy director and chief operating officer. The North Carolina Zoo is the largest walk-through zoo in the world and averages 700,000 visitors annually.
Her appointment is part of a long-range strategic plan which includes a master plan and strategic growth opportunities for the zoo. Simmons will move into the director position in 2016 when current director, Dr. David Jones, DVM retires. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to us my experience to assist another AZA accredited institution with their growth opportunities and long-range plans. It will be an exciting new challenge,” says Simmons.
“I am delighted that Pat has decided to join us here in North Carolina,” said Jones. “There is no one better qualified to take our beautiful zoo to the next level.”
In 30 years of service to the Akron Zoo, Simmons secured a stable source of funding for the zoo, developed a top rate conservation education program, and implemented a 14-year master plan that included adding more than 30 new animal exhibits, the latest project being the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge which opened last July. Last year the Akron Zoo had its largest attendance in zoo history with over 389,000 visitors.
“It is hard to see Pat go, we wish her the best of luck and know she will do an outstanding job for them as she did for us. The Akron Zoo is in a strong position and the Akron Zoo Board of Directors will work to make sure it remains the most visited attraction in Summit County as we continue to implement the future strategic master plan,” states Bob Littman, Chairman Akron Zoo Board of Trustees.