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SALT LAKE CITY — After 42 years working in zoos across the country, the president and CEO of Utah's Hogle Zoo announced Wednesday that he will retire in October.
"I look back on my 20 years as director of Utah's Hogle Zoo with both pride and gratitude," Craig Dinsmore said in a prepared statement. "Our progress has been a product of a great team united in the pursuit of excellence, and a supportive community which has generously supported our growth and improvements."
Dinsmore, 66, came to the zoo in 1997 after serving in leadership positions at Topeka Zoo in Topeka, Kansas, and Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
The zoo received nearly $72 million worth of upgrades during his tenure, including new exhibits like the Elephant Encounter, Asian Highlands, Rocky Shores and African Savanna. A new animal hospital was also constructed under his administration.
"All modern zoos have an important role to play for the future of wildlife and nature, both locally and worldwide," Dinsmore said. "Endangered species are vanishing at an alarming rate. People, especially children, are engrossed in their handheld technologies, becoming disconnected from nature. Zoos provide that link to nature, wildlife and wild places, and can be a catalyst for action to save species."
During Dinsmore's first year at Hogle Zoo, the park saw 750,000 visitors. Now, 1.1 million visitors flock to the zoo each year, making Utah's Hogle Zoo one of Salt Lake City's most-visited attractions.
The Colorado native accomplished more than just running a zoo. He also served on the board of directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and on the association's Accreditation Commission.
"When I first met Craig some 20 years ago, I became most impressed with his vision of what he believed Hogle Zoo could become," James E. Hogle Jr., chairman emeritus, said in a statement. "For the years that followed, Craig never wavered from bringing his wonderful vision. Today's highly regarded zoo reflects much of what he hoped and planned. We will all greatly miss Craig, his dedicated leadership, wisdom, wit, and especially for me, his friendship."
Paul Dougan, chairman of Hogle Zoo's board, said that thanks to Dinsmore, the zoo has financial security and a stable operations plan that runs through 2030.
"Over my career in business and service with other nonprofits, I have never worked with a better manager than Craig," Dougan said. "He has a unique combination of technical and practical knowledge of the zoo world and the people skills to both manage and develop a wonderful staff, and to work seamlessly with our board and officers."
Hogle Zoo officials said they hope to have a new president and CEO by the time Dinsmore retires in October. In announcing his retirement, Dinsmore expressed his gratitude for support from staff, members and donors.
"As you go forward, never forget how important each of you is to the zoo's success and remember also that the work you do makes a difference: for a guest, for our animals and for each other," he said.
Ashley Stilson is a graduate of Utah State University, working as an intern for the Deseret News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.