Memphis Zoo announces Jim Dean as new President & CEO

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(MEMPHIS ZOO RELEASE) – The Memphis Zoological Society Board of Directors today announced that Jim Dean has been elected as the new President and CEO of the Memphis Zoo.  Dean is a native Memphian and a respected executive with more than 30-years’ experience in the tourism and attractions industry. Dean is recognized for his work in conservation, animal welfare and education as well as managing world-class attractions.

Dean will replace Dr. Chuck Brady after 15 years as president and CEO and 40 years of service to the zoo, beginning in 1979 as curator of mammals.

Dean is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s in engineering and holds an MBA from St. Louis University. His entire career has been in the attraction and entertainment industry with leadership positions at such attractions as Busch Gardens, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Sesame Place, and most recently as interim president and CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater. 

“If ever there were an ideal candidate with the right mix of business experience and background to take the Memphis Zoo to the next level, it is Jim,” said Thomas C. Farnsworth III, chairman of the Memphis Zoological Society Board of Directors. “The Zoo is already Memphis’ highest attended attraction and has been ranked the “top zoo in the country” by two, independent surveys. With Jim’s background and vision, and building upon the work done by Chuck Brady in building the quality of animal experience and habitat during his years with the organization, the future of the zoo is very bright.”

“I am excited to be returning to Memphis after more than 30 years away, and especially excited to be joining a world-renowned tourist attraction like our Memphis Zoo,” said Dean. “It is an honor to be entrusted with the leadership of this outstanding attraction.”

Dean is the 2017 recipient of the University of Memphis Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes distinguished personal and career accomplishments and for exemplary contributions to society that bring credit to the University of Memphis.

He also accepted the 2016 Liseberg Applause Award for Busch Gardens Tampa, recognizing excellence and inspiration in the amusement and theme park industry worldwide. The award is handed out every second year at the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Expo for the “best theme park in the world.” In 2015 Dean was given the Distinguished Business Ambassador Award by Florida Governor Rick Scott, an award designed to publicly recognize dynamic business leaders in the state of Florida that are creating jobs and driving economic growth.

Dean will assume his new position with the Memphis Zoo on Monday, April 29. He and his wife Trish will be relocating to Memphis immediately.

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