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Honolulu Zoo's new director has Hawaii ties

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 06:11 p.m. HST, Mar 12, 2014

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Wednesday late afternoon that the Honolulu Zoo has a new director.

Jeffrey Wilkinson has been selected as the new administrator for the zoo, effective April 1.

"Jeffrey has strong management, marketing, and operations experience and we are happy to bring him home to Oahu," Caldwell said in a news release. "One of Jeffrey's initial responsibilities will be to work toward the zoo's reaccreditation in 2016."  

Wilkinson will be returning to Honolulu after serving as chief operating officer of nonprofit St. John's Program for Women and Children in Sacramento, Calif. since 2011. Previously, he served as college director at ITT Technical Institute and president of Menco, Inc. which sells consumable products to retailers. In total, he has more than 20 years of experience in executive roles.

Wilkinson is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Punahou School. 

Every zoo in the United Stated must complete a thorough accreditation process every five years through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The accreditation ensures zoos meet animal management and care standards, including living environments, social groupings, health, and nutrition. The Honolulu Zoo's accreditation is up for renewal in 2016.

The zoo's last director, Jeffrey Mahon, announced his resignation in late December, less than six months after starting the job. Mahon cited personal reasons for his departure from the zoo post. Mahon, who has an extensive background working at aquariums and other underwater facilities, was chosen from a field of 40 after former director Manuel Mollinedo resigned effective March 1, 2013. Mollinedo also cited personal reasons. 

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saywhatyouthink wrote:
This guy has absolutely no experience managing a zoo or similar operation, I don't see how any of his stated education or work experience qualifies him to run the Honolulu Zoo. Is this really the best Honolulu can do?
on March 12,2014 | 07:42PM
AhiPoke wrote:
"Is this really the best Honolulu can do?" - Probably yes. Let's be honest, Honolulu/Hawaii has rarely been able to compete for the very best. Time will be the test for this guy. With regard to background and experience, if he's truely a good manager he'll be able to hire the expertise to run the operations while he runs the business.
on March 13,2014 | 07:32AM
markeno wrote:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/wilkinsonjeffrey ... maybe he has a dog or cat or fish or something
on March 12,2014 | 08:25PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
He can probably make great shadow figures with his hands.
on March 12,2014 | 09:26PM
Bothrops wrote:
The zoo will probably face real problems getting reaccredited as this guy, however otherwise worthy, appears to have no experience in zoos. In terms of tourism the zoo is or should be a critical part of the Waikiki experience (think families with small children) but like so many cultural institutions around here, it is an afterthought, if it is given any thought at all.. Looking at St John's in Sacramento, the city and county should have hired this guy to help with homeless people.
on March 13,2014 | 08:54AM
ready2go wrote:
1) Graduated from Punahou - means he knows how to "think". 2) He definitely knows the difference between heads and tails!
on March 13,2014 | 09:03AM
MakaniKai wrote:
1) Graduated from Punahou - or community organize............
on March 13,2014 | 10:01AM
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