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Philadelphia Zoo names first-ever Black woman president in 164-year history

Jo-Elle Mogerman

The Philadelphia Zoo has tapped Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman as the first woman to serve as president and CEO.

Mogerman will be the zoo’s 15th president in its 164-year history. She has been the Director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park in Missouri since 2019.

Previously, she was the vice president of learning and community at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium and spent nearly 14 years in leadership roles at the Brookfield Zoo. In a release, Mogerman said she’s honored to be selected for the role.

“I look forward to leading Philadelphia’s exceptional team to advance the Zoo’s mission and further its impact on the region while also contributing to conservation in ways that are meaningful locally, regionally, and nationally,” Mogerman said. “There’s a lot of amazing work underway at Philadelphia Zoo and together with the community and the Zoo team, I am certain we will catapult the nation’s first zoo into a model for zoos of the future.”

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The new president also picked up a degree in biology from Macalester College, a masters in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate in biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mogerman’s hiring follows a nationwide search, which Board of Directors chair Joanna McNeil Lewis called “a journey to find the very best person to lead our forward-thinking organization.”

Dr. Mogerman’s impressive career and accomplishments speak for themselves, but it’s her clear commitment to community, animal welfare, staff development, and operational excellence that made her the right fit for our renowned Zoo,” Lewis said in a release.

Mogerman will continue as the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park Director through the end of October.

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Outgoing President Vikram Dewan announced his plans to leave last November.

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