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Metro Newsroom

Abramson Names Veteran Official To Lead Louisville Zoo

Thursday March 18, 2004

 Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced that he has named John T. Walczak as the new Director of the Louisville Zoo.

Walczak, 47, has been assistant director of the Zoo since 1992 and interim director since December 2003 when Bill Foster retired from the Louisville Zoo after 27 years.
“John Walczak has been the backbone of the Zoo for a long time,” Abramson said. “His behind-the-scenes leadership has been instrumental in leading our Zoo to national prominence. We’re excited about John taking on a new, more public role in leading our Zoo forward in the future.”
Walzcak, who will make $105,000 a year, begins his duty as director immediately. As Assistant Director, Walzcak has managed all of the Zoo’s internal operations and collections. During his tenure as assistant director, the Zoo has experienced an 82 percent increase in attendance. Walzcak has been at the Louisville Zoo since 1985.
Walzcak also has coordinated the design and implementation of the Zoo’s $140 million master plan. And he oversaw the design and construction of several projects, including the $15.2 million, award-winning Gorilla Forest exhibit.
“I’m honored to accept the job as Director of the Louisville Zoo and invigorated by the challenges that running a large zoo presents,” Walzcak said. “My goal is to further our commitment to conservation, education and family fun. In the coming weeks and months, I will work closely with our Board and staff to maximize the potential of this wonderful community resource and develop exciting plans for its future.”

Mary Lou Northern, secretary of the Cabinet for Neighborhoods, Parks & Cultural Affairs, which includes the Zoo, said officials considered a national search, but decided that the best possible person for the job was already in place. “I have worked closely with the Zoo commissioners and we were in total agreement after working with John as the interim director for the last three months,” Northern said. “There was no point in going anywhere else because we had the best candidate already in place.”