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Longtime employee to lead troubled Honolulu Zoo

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Linda Santos was named new director of the Honolulu Zoo.

Longtime Honolulu Zoo curator Linda Santos was named the troubled facility’s new director by the city today.

Santos has been assistant zoo director since July 2015, according to her LinkedIn page. Before becoming assistant director, Santos had been the zoo’s general curator since August 2012, the page said.

Santos has been an employee of the zoo since 1986, according to city officials.

She will be its sixth director and its first female leader.

The city received applications from 47 people hoping for the zoo director post. But only 10 were deemed qualified, city Human Resources Director Carolee Kubo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in June.

The job pays between $102,192 and $170,100 annually.

Former zoo Administrator Baird Fleming resigned effective Nov. 30, the fifth zoo leader to leave in seven years.

Unstable leadership was one of the reasons cited when the Association of Zoos and Aquariums stripped the zoo of its accreditation in March 2016. The major reason given was the lack of a steady revenue source.

In the wake of that development, a Honolulu City Charter amendment approved by voters in November requires that at least 0.5 percent of annual real property taxes goes into a special zoo fund to help the zoo regain its accreditation.

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