News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

NOCHE

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


The long-time head of the Akron Zoo is heading to North Carolina
L. Patricia Simmons is leaving Akron to head the world's largest walk-through zoo
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
After 31 years, L.Patricia Simmons is leaving the Akron Zoo for North Carolina.
Courtesy of Akron Zoo
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
The woman who has headed the Akron Zoo for the last three decades is going to the world's largest walk-through zoo in North Carolina. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze spoke with Pat Simmons about this morning’s surprise announcement and what happens next.
LISTEN: Pat Simmons on Akron's evolution

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (2:49)


For half the time the Akron Zoo has been in existence, L. Pat Simmons has been in charge. She’s so much a part of the identity of the zoo that the e-mail announcing she’s leaving for the North Carolina zoo in included a note: “As you can imagine, it is a tough day for the staff at the zoo, but we are very happy for Pat.”

The zoo has long operated in the geographical shadows of some of marquee zoos in the country – Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland. But Akron’s been growing in attendance, funding, exhibits and national stature. Simmons says leaving should not be easy.

“I love this place, but I have another 15 years of so to work. And I was thinking about what’s the best decision for Akron and for me in the long term.“Akron has just completed its wonderful Mike and Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge, it’s the largest exhibit ever.

It’s had more attendance then it’s ever had. Plus we just secured our funding through the tax levy -- thanks to the Summit County voters -- to keep the zoo stable for the next seven years.

“It seemed like a good time for me to give the people here in Akron and the kids at the zoo a chance to flex their leadership wings and begin moving up and a fresh approach.”

So what's in North Carolina?
Meanwhile, Simmons will be playing a key role in change in North Carolina, at the state-run zoo in Asheboro, which is the largest walk-through zoo in the world.She’s starting as the chief operating officer and is expected to become director when David Jones retires in 2016.

“North Carolina drew me for several reasons: It is a very large zoo that is located in a very small community. And I’m a small-town girl and I love farming communities, and so it feels good to me.

“And when I first came to Akron, I could use my skills to help really create and build here and the community supported me in doing that. Well, I feel the same way about going there. That they have a beautiful zoo, but I’m going to be given the chance to help them meet their dreams.”

And what's next for Akron?
Simmons will remain full time in Akron through July and still be available in August. The board plans to do a national search for her successor.

“I know that Akron Zoo has now changed so much in the eyes of the global zoo community that you guys are going to be covered up with applicants, this is a primo, sweet job. And so there will be lots of opportunity to bring the right people in to help the zoo go to the next step.

“My only request is that you really look hard at your local talent because these kids are good, and they would be wonderful leaders for the community.”

The Akron Zoo hit a record for admissions last year, with nearly 390,000 visitors.
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Massive pipeline planned to pump Ohio shale products to Texas
This needs stopped. Ohioans pay the price, putting up with pollution, leaks, explosions, and the top one percent profit from exporting fracked product to China.

National Weather Service confirms three tornado touchdowns yesterday
I was driving back from a party and was caught in the middle of a large thunderstorm. The hail and lightning were a whole light closer than usual, is something ...

Another Indians season opens with Chief Wahoo under scrutiny
The picture you have for Robert rocha is not him. He has long hair. No idea who that guy is in that picture

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University