Mike Blakely has announced his retirement effective Oct. 14 after 17 years as director of the Little Rock Zoo.
City Manager Bruce Moore said he’ll announcement a replacement plan for leadership of the city facility next month.
Blakely became director in September 1999. He’s worked at zoos since a summer job in Portland in 1967. He was director of Wildlife Safari in Oregon before his move to Little Rock. Several new exhibits have been added during his tenure, including the Arkansas Heritage Farm, Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe, Cheetah Outpost and Diamond Express train
In a release, Moore lauded Blakely’s work:
“Mike helped build the Zoo into the world-class, accredited institution it is today,” Moore said. “His emphasis on education and conservation has set the standard and brought us exciting exhibits such as the Arkansas Heritage Farm. While we are sad to see him go, we are thankful for his many years of dedication to the City and most importantly to the Zoo family.”