POWELL – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced Tuesday that former Zoo Executive Director and Director Emeritus Jerry Borin is stepping out of retirement to serve in an interim role as the Zoo’s President and CEO.
Borin will work closely with the Zoo’s Board of Directors and senior management team as the Board immediately begins a national search for a new CEO.
Borin is returning after his 2008 retirement and 23 successful years at the Columbus Zoo. Viewed within the community as a visionary leader, Borin continues to be highly regarded among staff for his calm and thoughtful demeanor. Since his retirement, Borin and his wife, Lois, have been enthusiastic and supportive advocates for the Zoo, as well as active donors, who participate in many of the Zoo’s fundraisers.
Borin began his interim role Tuesday and said he looks forward to working with Zoo staff again and championing their continued great work on behalf of the world’s wildlife.
“Over the years, the devoted staff has stayed close to my heart, and I remain committed to supporting their important work. Of course, these efforts have also resulted in an even greater impact, thanks to our generous Central Ohio community,” Borin said. “Spring is my favorite time of year as it represents new beginnings. I love the sunshine, welcoming back our guests after a long winter and sharing with them the fun that the season offers like our upcoming Eggs, Paws and Claws event this weekend. I continue to be inspired every day by what our staff and community can celebrate together, and I am proud to do my part in helping to ensure that all of us continue making a difference for people and wildlife for years to come.”
Borin’s career began at Columbus Recreation and Parks shortly after college, and he became acquainted with the Zoo’s executive director, Jungle Jack Hanna, who hired Borin as the Zoo’s general manager in 1985. Borin was promoted to executive director in 1992 as Hanna transitioned into the role of Director Emeritus.
Borin continued the shared vision of growing and transforming the Zoo into a modern, state-of-the art destination and wildlife conservation center. Under his leadership, many renovations and improvements were made to habitats while the Zoo also began construction of several regions as part of a 10-year master plan that continued restructuring the Zoo into six geographic regions so guests could learn about the animals and their native habitats. Several of these projects include: the opening of Discovery Reef Aquarium and Manatee Coast, the African Forest (now called Congo Expedition), Islands of Southeast Asia (now named Australia and the Islands), and Asia Quest, as well as plans for the development of Polar Frontier and the Zoo’s expansive Heart of Africa region. During this time, the Zoo also grew its support of global field conservation projects to have a more direct impact on wildlife and local communities that share home ranges and resources.
In addition to focusing on providing the animals with the best care and welfare, inspiration for the projects was driven by Borin’s desire to make the Columbus Zoo a unique, high-quality destination for guests. As part of fulfilling the Zoo’s commitment to connecting people and wildlife, the Zoo also entered into a partnership with The Wilds, a 10,000-acre wildlife conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio; completed major renovations at the Safari Golf Club; and opened Zoombezi Bay, a water park adjacent to the Zoo. Now managed by the Columbus Zoo, The Wilds offers additional conservation opportunities and exciting ways for guests to experience rare and endangered wildlife while proceeds from Safari Golf Club and Zoombezi Bay also help to support the Zoo’s operation and mission.
As a way to honor his contributions, several places at the Zoo have been named after Borin including the Jerry Borin Trace service road and the themed boat in Shores Play Park, which received the fun moniker, Borin Explorer.