HONOLULU — The Honolulu Zoo has named its next director, who will be tasked with reclaiming the zoo’s accreditation after it was stripped in March 2016.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced on Monday that Linda Santos is the new director, the zoo’s sixth leader and first female director.
“The process was a very thorough, robust process that looked across the country,” Caldwell said. “They found the best-suited person right here, working at the zoo, working 30 years and counting.”
Santos has more than 30 years of experience in animal care and welfare and served as assistant zoo director after former Director Baird Fleming resigned in late 2016.
The zoo director gets paid between $102,192 and $170,100 per year.
David Earles, executive director of the Honolulu Zoo Society, said he has been privileged to work with Santos for many years. “We are excited about the future of our zoo under her leadership and look forward to great things to come,” Earles said.
Unstable leadership was one of the reasons cited when the Association of Zoos and Aquariums stripped the zoo of its accreditation. The major reason provided by the association was the lack of a steady revenue stream.
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 go into a special zoo fund to help the zoo regain its accreditation.
“I hope the troubles of the past are truly behind us, and we look forward to a very bright future here at the zoo,” Caldwell said.