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Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 02:08 pm

Zoo director announces departure

Peeler named to post in 2013

 

Julie Peeler has announced her resignation as director of the Henson Robinson Zoo.

 

Peeler, who was named zoo director in 2013, has accepted a job on the East Coast, said Derek Harms, director of the Springfield Park District that owns and runs the zoo. He said he believes Peeler, who could not immediately be reached, will be a zoo director at her new job. Her last day on the job will be in January, he said.

 

“She’s going home,” Harms said. “We’ll soon be advertising for a new zoo director.”

 

Harms said the park district, which conducted a nationwide search three years ago before promoting Peeler from assistant zoo director to the top post, plans on advertising nationally for the position, but he did not preclude hiring an internal candidate. He said he did not know how long it will take to replace Peeler.

 

“We’re putting together a timeline right now,” Harms said.

 

The zoo is due for accreditation renewal next year. After citing concerns about animal escape policies, the need for a quarantine building and a lack of emergency drills, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums initially tabled consideration of accreditation renewal in 2012, but ultimately gave its seal of approval in 2013, after zoo officials addressed issues identified by the association that accredits zoos. Harms stopped short of saying that the zoo will seek renewal of its accreditation.

 

“We’d look at the criteria to see if that is something we want to continue,” Harms said. “If ‘yes’ is the answer, we’ll put together a plan to address that. … I think, right now, we’re focusing on filling the director’s position.”

 

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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