Honolulu Zoo Director Baird Fleming announced today that he is resigning his post due to a job opportunity elsewhere, city officials said.
The resignation comes in the midst of the city’s efforts to regain accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which stripped Honolulu of its seal of approval in March.
Fleming became zoo director in February 2015, its fifth in six years.
The zoo’s inability to retain a director was cited by the AZA as one reason Honolulu lost its accreditation although the main issue appeared to be the lack of a steady and consistent funding source as the major factor.
Fleming has been with the zoo four years in all, much of that time as its assistant director.
“We thank Dr. Fleming for his more than 4-½ years of service to the Honolulu Zoo and for putting us on a path towards re-accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” city Enterprise Services Director Guy Kaulukukui said in a news release. “Change is an opportunity for growth, and we are poised to grow in very exciting ways that our local residents and visitors will surely enjoy.”
Last week, Oahu voters approved a change to the Honolulu City Charter that requires one-half of one percent of annual estimated property tax revenues go into an exclusive fund that could only pay for zoo expenses.
Fleming told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week that the Caldwell administration was aiming to re-apply for accreditation in either 2018 or 2019.
Bill Balfour, former city parks director and one-time manager of the Oahu Sugar Co., has been named temporary zoo administrator.
The 42-acre Honolulu Zoo formally opened in 1947.