Brookfield Zoo chief to retire; search for new leadership begins

Stuart Strahl, has been CEO and president of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, for 17 years. The search for his replacement is expected to begin in the coming months.

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Stuart Strahl, CEO and president of the Chicago Zoological Society, said he will retire

Chicago Zoological Society

The Chicago Zoological Society is in search of new leadership with the decision by Stuart Strahl, its CEO and president, to retire.

The society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, plans to start searching for Strahl’s replacement in the next few months, according to a news release.

Brookfield Zoo is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society.

Brookfield Zoo is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society.

Brookfield Zoo photo

Strahl has held the top spot for 17 years; in that time, the zoo developed both the Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare and Center for Conservation Leadership.

“Every CEO position has days where it’s kinda tough, but on the other hand, there are lots more days where you have an outstanding experience — especially in a zoo, because animals have an effect on people,” Strahl said.

“Part of that is endorphins in the brain; we’re genetically coded for that. But even on the bad days, there’s an uplift.”

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“You can go see the otters — or I like the birds — or see Hudson the polar bear doing belly flops from his high perch. A lot of that stuff I’ll miss,” said Stuart Stahl, CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society after announcing his eventual retirement. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

AP

The new CEO will “guide the evolving footprint of Brookfield Zoo,” which will include new exhibits and projects, according to the release.

Strahl said there’s one quality he hopes his successor will have: empathy.

“If you look at what the world needs instead of what you think the world needs and listen enough to the people in most need, you can generally provide opportunity,” he said. “... Look at all the things that people and animals have in common and that people have in common; they far outweigh the differences we have.”

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