Lions, tigers and an unbearable year at Jack Hanna’s zoo | National News

“It’s been a tough year for the Columbus Zoo, yes,” said association president Dan Ashe, while adding that the zoo’s roughly 2 million visitors a year can still be assured the facility’s 10,000 animals are well cared for.

Ashe said bringing in Tom Schmid, who currently heads the Texas State Aquarium, as the zoo’s new leader bodes well: “He’s going to bring the Columbus Zoo roaring back.”

Schmid, 56, begins his new job Dec. 6 as president and CEO of the zoo and its related businesses, including The Wilds safari park and conservation center and Zoombezi Bay water park.

Keith Shumate, chair of the zoo’s board, called Schmid “extremely smart, ethical and passionate about zoos and wildlife conservation.”

“We can’t change what happened in the past, but we’ve done a lot to admit those wrongs, to apologize and to address our shortcomings,” said zoo spokesperson Nicolle Gomez Racey. “The people who took liberties in their power are gone, and the people who are cleaning up the mess in the room, under new leadership, we’re moving forward. That’s the only thing you can do.”

Interim CEO Jerry Borin has overseen zoo business since then-CEO Tom Stalf and his chief financial officer, Greg Bell, resigned in March after a Columbus Dispatch investigation found they allowed relatives to live in houses owned or controlled by the zoo and sought tickets for family members to attend entertainment events.

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