Council Approves New Director for L.A. Zoo


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council today approved Denise Verret as the new director of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Verret had been serving as the zoo's interim director since John Lewis retired in January after 15 years on the job. Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated her for the permanent post on June 18.

“I would like to thank Mayor Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council members for their vote of confidence in my serving as the next zoo director of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens,” Verret said Friday. “As the Los Angeles Zoo continues to evolve, I'm humbled to be working alongside the best and brightest staff and volunteers as we strive to make the Los Angeles Zoo an institution that thrives and is relevant and meaningful for all people from all backgrounds.”

“It's been a pleasure to work with Denise as the interim zoo director,” L.A. Zoo Commission President Karen Winnick said. “Her passion and concern for the well-being of the animals, her dedication to the Zoo's mission, and her leadership and organizational skills are only a few of the qualities that make Denise a great choice to be our new L.A. Zoo Director.”

Verret becomes the first black woman to lead a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The zoo director oversees the zoo's more than 1,400 animals at a facility that attracts 2 million visitors each year. The director also leads the Zoo's California Condor Recovery program, which helped bring the endangered birds back from the brink of extinction, according to the mayor's office.

Verret has worked for the city for 30 years and spent the last 19 years as the zoo's deputy director. She led the development of the L.A. Zoo Strategic and Vision Plan and served as a zoo accreditation inspector for the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums for the last 14 years.

Photo: Getty Images

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