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Ex-San Francisco Zoo director hired to run Honolulu Zoo

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:40 p.m. HST, Dec 16, 2010

Manuel Mollinedo, director of the San Francisco Zoo when an escaped tiger attacked and killed a teenage boy on Christmas Day 2008, has taken over as head of the Honolulu Zoo.

Mayor Peter Carlisle said Mollinedo began leading the Honolulu Zoo this week, introducing him at a press conference this morning.

"Manuel Mollinedo's wealth of zoo and park managerial experience and his clear love for animals is sure to benefit Honolulu," Carlisle said in a statement. "Our zoo is incredibly important to our community, our children, and our visitor industry, and I'm very confident that we are placing the care of our treasured animals in good hands."

He was executive director and president of the San Francisco Zoological Society from 2004 to 2008, and is credited with boosting visitor attendance and improving the zoo's financial condition. But he also came under fire for mismanagement after the tiger attack. 

The city said he was among eight applicants for the job.

Mollinedo is a native of Los Angeles and graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, in recreation administration and in anthropology. He also earned a master's degree in recreation administration there, and earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

While Mollinedo was in charge of the Los Angeles Zoo in 2001, a Komodo dragon bit off part of San Francisco Chronicle Executive Editor Phil Bronstein's toe.

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