Fresno Chaffee Zoo Selects New CEO

(Dec. 1, 2020) Fresno Chaffee Zoo announced today that Jon Forrest Dohlin will be its new Chief Executive Officer. He will succeed retiring CEO Scott Barton with the transition expected to take place in early 2021.

“We are thrilled to announce that Jon Dohlin has accepted our offer to join Fresno Chaffee Zoo as its next CEO. Jon brings extensive experience in project and animal management and a strong commitment to conservation, education and delivering a world-class guest experience. We could not be more excited to have Jon in the Fresno Chaffee Zoo family,” said Kyle Kirkland, Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo Corporation Board Chair.

Dohlin, who will be the eighth Executive Director and CEO in the Zoo’s 90-year history, currently serves as the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, a position he has held for the past 12 years. In his 20 years with the Wildlife Conservation Society, he was also involved in project design and management with the Bronx Zoo. The New York Aquarium is Brooklyn’s largest cultural institution. As director, Dohlin managed an annual budget of $18.5 million and over 300 staff members, directed a $150 million restoration of the Aquarium after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and oversaw the design, construction and fund-raising for the award-winning $160 million shark exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

“We’re pleased that Jon has agreed to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team and I believe that the Zoo’s ability to recruit talent of his stature speaks to its importance to the people of Fresno as well as the international zoo and aquarium community. The Zoo’s position as a leading educational and cultural institution will be enhanced through Jon’s leadership and we look forward to welcoming him to our great city,” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

As Chief Executive Officer, Dohlin will oversee all functions of the Zoo, including the over 220 species of animals and the Zoo’s exhibits, such as Sea Lion Cove, Stingray Bay and African Adventure. He will also continue the progress on Kingdoms of Asia, which broke ground in September. This $38 million project includes habitats for tigers, orangutans, and sloth bears and is expected to open in the fall of 2021.

“I am privileged and excited to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team and continue to build on the great work they’ve done to create an outstanding zoo experience for the Fresno and Central Valley communities,” said Dohlin. “Fresno County residents’ commitment to the Zoo through Measure Z creates a powerful partnership, which I am honored to steward into our shared future. Fresno Chaffee Zoo is highly respected within the national and international zoo communities for its award-winning exhibits, commitment to conservation and talented and engaged staff, all of which drew me here from New York. I look forward to continuing the Zoo’s mission by focusing on conservation, education, world class animal care, community engagement and WOW exhibits.”

Fresno Chaffee Zoo welcomes over 800,000 guests annually, including visitors from all 50 states and over 30 countries. Almost 100,000 local area students and chaperones frequent the Zoo each year and families from all over the Central Valley enjoy our special attractions such as Zoorassic Park, ZooBoo, and ZooLights.

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