Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Zoo Leader To Retire At End Of 2020 Season

Rebecca Green
Northeast Indiana Public Radio/WBOI

The long-time leader at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will be retiring at the end of the 2020 season. 

Executive Director Jim Anderson has served the well-known Fort Wayne attraction since 1976 when he started as a seasonal zoo keeper. After a promotion to curator in 1979 and assistant director in 1986, Anderson was promoted to executive director in 1994. He succeeded the zoo’s founder Earl Wells.

During his tenure, he’s driven more than $30 million in improvements and new attractions at the Zoo, including the Australian Adventure in 1986, the Indonesian Rain Forest in 1996, and the new African Journey in 2009, according to a press release from the zoo issued Tuesday morning.

Today, the zoo draws an estimated 600,000 people a year – nearly double what it was in 1994, according to the press release.

“On behalf of the board and the entire community, we are incredibly grateful to Jim for his vision, his commitment, and his years of dedication to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo,” said Chuck Surack, board president in the press release.

Anderson said it was hard to leave a place he loved, but felt it was the right time and the best team was in place to move forward after his retirement. 

“It’s been incredibly rewarding for me to work with so many dedicated employees, volunteers, and board members to create the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo experience for 20 million guests during the time I have worked here," Anderson said.

"We have grown and improved – all while staying true to our founding ideals and remaining small and personal, clean and green, and full of engaging experiences and memories for our guests.”


Rebecca manages the news at WBOI. She joined the staff in December 2017, and brought with her nearly two decades of experience in print journalism, including 15 years as an award-winning reporter for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.