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Arts, Sports & Culture

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Names New President

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Sarah Kovash
/
90.5 WESA News

Veteran zoo director Jeremy Goodman will be the new President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh announced Thursday. Goodman will be the zoo’s eighth director since the facility opened in 1898.

He replaces Barbara Baker, who announced her retirement earlier this summer. Goodman will take over in October.

“Dr. Goodman is an accomplished game changer in the advancement of city zoos and has a track record of success to bring to Pittsburgh’s unique combination zoo and aquarium,” said Donna Hudson, board chair of the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh.

Goodman is currently the executive director of the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island.

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He will lead the zoo’s efforts to receive accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo has been unaccredited since 2015 following a disagreement over the AZA’s elephant safety policy. The policy puts limits on unprotected contact between elephants and keepers.

The accreditation lapse came to light again last year when Pittsburgh City Council was debating an ordinance that largely bans ownership of crocodiles and some other reptile species in city limits. It excuses organizations with AZA accreditation. Ultimately, the zoo was made exempt from the ordinance anyway.

The zoo has been seeking the reinstatement of its accreditation from the AZA since March.

“I’ve always viewed accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to be the absolute gold standard,” Goodman said. “[It’s] probably the most rigorous of all of the accreditation programs. We want to be the best.”

He has first-hand experience bringing unaccredited zoos into compliance during his nine years leading the Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey.

Goodman has also served as an AZA inspector for more than 20 years. In that role, he inspects records and processes at other zoos applying for accreditation.

“[Goodman] will bring new perspective and experience to advancing our AZA accreditation, renewing our lease with the City, creating and updating exhibitions, and engaging the community in new ways in order to further enhance and grow our zoo,” said Hudson.

Goodman, also a veterinarian, said he looks forward to overseeing a larger facility in Pittsburgh. The zoo and aquarium are home to 8,000 animals and more than 600 species.

During his eight years leading the Roger Williams Park Zoo, Goodman led development of the $15 million rainforest exhibit, which opened in 2018.

“Everything I’ve heard about the city and the community and how supportive they are and welcoming they are, was incredibly appealing to both myself and my family,” he said. “[The Pittsburgh Zoo is] a world-class facility, certainly one of the top zoos in the country. It’s a privilege to be their next leader.”