By Sacramento Zoo Board of Trustees President, Jeff Raimundo
The Sacramento Zoo’s Director/CEO will depart the Sacramento Zoo in the beginning of July for a position with the Audubon Nature Institute. On behalf of the board of trustees, I thought I would provide a reflection on Kyle Burks’ departure and an update on the zoo’s plans moving forward. We certainly are sorry to see Kyle move on, but we also understand this is a marvelous career opportunity for him. The fact that Audubon sought him out is a testament to our great fortune in having a rising star help us chart the Sacramento Zoo’s future. In his two years here, I truly believe he has helped move this institution five to 10 years along a path to our reimagined Sacramento Zoo. He leaves a legacy of change that we intend to continue — a new master plan, an unprecedented capital campaign plan, a brighter and fresher look and feel for our “brand,” a re-energized experience for our visitors. And the grounds and facilities have never looked better!
Kyle is leaving the zoo in good hands. The zoo’s CFO, Robert Churchill, has the board’s full support as interim director and CEO. Kyle also has left the zoo with an unusually strong and talented management team who will assure that the transition to new leadership will be seamless.
Of course, animal welfare remains the zoo’s highest priority and will be for the new director. Status quo isn’t good enough anymore. The board of trustees will be seeking a new director who shares our determination to keep the momentum going, who is a visionary and creative change agent, who has experience in carrying out a master plan and a capital campaign to pay for it and who will continue to make our visitor experience fresh and engaging.
Because we’re looking for someone with such specific capabilities, we will be engaging an international management search firm with zoo experience to find just the right fit for the Sacramento Zoo. If all goes according to plan, we should have a new director and CEO on hand in the Fall.
These are exciting times. We’re no longer the little zoo in Land Park. We’re the most-visited major “place to go” in the Sacramento region. Our commitment to conservation and animal care is exemplary. Our planned Biodiversity Center will provide an invaluable launch pad for the New Sacramento Zoo in the 21st century. The innovative plans to completely reimagine the Sacramento Zoo are moving forward and our vision for the future of our region’s zoo is as clear as ever. Be sure to stay tuned as we announce more exciting plans on the horizon for your zoo.