Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium President and CEO, Dennis Pate, has announced his intention to retire early next year after 47 years working in zoos, 13 of those years in Omaha.
Pate joined Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium as the President and CEO in 2009 and has maintained the state’s top accolade as Nebraska’s most visited attraction. Pate created and completed a 10-year master plan which consisted of improved guest services and amenities, and state-of-the-art exhibits including: Scott African Grasslands, Asian Highlands, Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails and Daugherty Education Center, and Owen Sea Lion Shores.
Mogens Bay, Chair, Omaha Zoological Society said, “I cannot overstate the positive impact Dennis has had on our Zoo. He has been a catalyst for positive change.”
Under Pate’s leadership the Zoo achieved record breaking attendance, earned World’s Best Zoo by Travelocity, and Business of the Year from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Pate has also served as Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Board of Directors, AZA Accreditation Commission, and is currently serving on the Dian Fossey Board of Directors. In 2016 Pate was instrumental in bringing elephants back to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, which has led to two elephant calves born this year.
Pate said, “Working at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has been the highlight of my professional life. I feel very lucky to have landed in this community and Zoo with such an incredible staff and board.”
“It is not going to be easy to replace Dennis. He was the exact right leader for our Zoo over the past 13 years and we should all be grateful. Our challenge is to find someone who can build on his legacy,” said Bay.
A search firm will be selected, and a national search will take place over the next year.