Introducing our new Chief Executive Officer!

Corey Leet has been named Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Superior Zoo, the Board of Directors of the Lake Superior Zoological Society announced today.

Lake Superior Zoo Corey Leet BlogLeet was selected after an executive search that included candidates from across the country and from various industries. He will formally assume the duties as the zoo’s top administrator Jan. 2, overseeing the paid and volunteer staff and reporting to the Board. Interim CEO Julene Boe will continue in her role, which she has held since February, through the end of the year and will work with Leet and the Board to develop a transition plan.

Leet, 36, of Coon Rapids, Minn., is research operations manager at Medtronic’s Physiological Research Laboratory in Coon Rapids, where he oversees a staff that conducts scientific testing of the company’s medical devices. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in ecology, evolution and animal behavior from the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. He also holds a Master’s Degree in organizational management from Concordia University in St. Paul.

“We are excited for Corey to join us and believe that his background as a manager and as a scientific professional will help us shape the zoo’s future and enhance its value for our community,” said Diana Bouschor Dodge, President of the nonprofit Lake Superior Zoological Society, which manages the zoo under a long-term contract with the zoo’s owner, the City of Duluth.

She added: “Corey impressed us in the search and interview process. He brings a passion not only for the zoo but also for our community, the natural world and for how the zoo can play an important role in educating us about nature and conservation through up-close animal experiences.”

Leet grew up in the farming community of Waseca, Minn., and while in college at the U. of M. worked at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minn. More recently, he served on the Board of Directors of the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, Minn., helping support a capital campaign that raised funds for improvements to the center and grounds. The center seeks to bring visitors closer to nature through hiking trails, wildlife observations and educational programs.

“I have been around nature and animals my entire life, and leading the Lake Superior Zoo is a wonderful opportunity for me to bring my skills, experience and passion together at a time when the zoo is moving forward with exciting plans,” Leet said. “In college, I dreamed of someday making my career at a zoo. To do so now in Duluth, a special place for my family, is a dream come true.”

The Zoological Society and the City of Duluth have announced a consensus plan for the future of the zoo and adjoining city park space that calls for $15 million in zoo improvements, the most significant capital investment in a generation.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • A commitment to maintain Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation meeting or exceeding AZA’s high standards for animal care, education and public safety.
  • Retention of exhibits for large and exotic animals, including a new and improved bear exhibit, a new Forest Discovery Zone featuring regional species in a forest habitat and enhancement of existing exhibits.
  • New destination indoor and outdoor play spaces in the zoo and park spaces.
  • ADA-accessible trails connecting the zoo and nearby residential neighborhoods to the St. Louis River with a trail under the new Grand Avenue bridge.

“I am encouraged by the plan as well as the long history that Duluth has of supporting and enjoying its zoo,” Leet said. “Our goal is to ensure a strong future for the zoo, with input from our community. We have a great opportunity to get more people involved in creating a zoo to enjoy for generations to come.”

Leet will begin working immediately with the zoo Board and staff as he winds down his current career responsibilities and prepares to start full-time at the zoo in the new year. He is married with two sons, ages 6 and 10, and said his family is excited about their move to Duluth. He said his family visits Duluth several times a year, in all seasons. He and his wife, Lindsay, a seventh-grade science teacher, also married at Enger Tower.

“Duluth is a unique and special place for us,” he said. “We’re looking forward to calling it our home.”

Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo is the only zoo in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Since 1923, it has provided up-close animal experiences that inspire connections to wildlife and action towards conservation. The zoo’s picturesque property includes rocky hillsides, majestic pines and beautiful Kingsbury Creek. It is one of the region’s most popular year-round attractions. For more information, go to LSZooDuluth.org.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Rob Karwath | North Coast Communications | 218-343-9418 | rob@northcoastcommunications.com


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