As we head into the month that will mark my 100th day of service to the Zoological Society of Florida (ZSF) as President and CEO, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts and a behind the scenes glimpse of what we will be working on, in partnership with Zoo Miami, during 2011 to continue making this institution the very best in the United States as well as across the world.
Maximum Value – Every Day: From your first turn into our gorgeous entrance, to finding ample free parking; from your first greeting (from either animal or man!), to finding accessible and friendly docents, volunteers and staff during your visit to assist you and to finding that tasty treat to eat or a canopy shade to rest in comfort, 2011 will be a year when you find VALUE at every turn. Families and businesses are being more thoughtful with their money and the ZSF and Zoo Miami are working diligently to insure that every experience you have is positive, informative and fun.
Educational and Enriching: Our purpose and mission at the ZSF is to encourage an appreciation for the world’s wildlife and to help join together (as a community) to preserve it for future generations. In 2011, and under the leadership of our new Education Director Tedor Whitman, we will be rolling out exciting new clubs, programs and services catering to all ages and interests. Be on the lookout in coming months for a Safari Photo Club, new activities for kids in the summer and enriching experiences for lifelong learners all year long. Ongoing plans also include efforts to maximize knowledge and appreciation of Zoo Miami as a vibrant botanical garden (it is!) as well as beginning plans to create an onsite institute for zoological and conservation studies at Zoo Miami.
Membership Benefits: For those people and families who visit Zoo Miami one time or more during a year, membership with the ZSF is a partnership you don’t want to miss! Annual memberships provide for unlimited return trips to explore at your convenience, get discounts on numerous services and participate in “members only” programs at the zoo. Moreover, membership benefits include reduced admission rates at zoos across the country, newsletters and educational materials about what’s going on in your backyard you may otherwise miss out on. We are also presently exploring additional discounts for recreational activities across Miami-Dade County with our partners in county government. In short, membership truly does have its privileges and we are working hard to provide more “bang for your buck” and the most education and fun at Zoo Miami through our valuable membership programs and services. Become a member, keep your membership and encourage a friend to join you today at www.zoomiami.org!
Strategic Planning for the 21st Century: With the assistance of the ZSF, strong administrative staff, leadership at the county, and historically dedicated elected leadership supporting every step taken, Zoo Miami is preparing to transform itself for generations to come. Not resting on its significant history as a leading zoological and conservation institution (and trailblazer), Zoo Miami is presently undertaking significant new construction projects this year including:
- Massive improvements to the Amphitheater,
- Holistic renovations to the Children’s Zoo with a new Wacky Barn,
- New Playgrounds at Oasis Grille, updated restaurants and improved pathways and rest areas,
- Partnership with “One Million Trees Miami:” A project that, centered on the jewel that is Zoo Miami, will focus our community’s attention and action upon doubling the existing tree canopy in Miami-Dade County over the next few decades.
Also not resting on the recent expansion dedicated toward wildlife and fauna of the South American Amazon (and Beyond!), planning is well underway for the following (to be constructed in the next few years):
- Mission: Florida Everglades. This new expansion will serve as a trailhead into the globally significant Florida Everglades as well as a center for teaching (and learning) about how to protect, improve and defend this critical “legacy challenge” to mankind.
- Water Park and Family Entertainment Center. Zoo Miami is the largest attraction in Southern Miami-Dade and one of the largest in the region on the whole. In recognition of its central position in our community and capability for all kinds of fun, county and Society leadership are actively reviewing opportunities for a mutually beneficial collocation of a water park and family entertainment district on zoo grounds. While the core focus and mission of our institution will always center on zoological and conservation studies and work, we are working hard to charter innovative teaching and learning approaches as well as solid business strategies that will keep Zoo Miami a financially sound and efficient operation for generations to come. We are working hard today to chart a path where fun and learning marry well toward achieving that vision well into tomorrow.
Fun, fun, FUN!!!: We work hard at the ZSF and Zoo Miami so that your experiences, during every encounter, are FUN and rewarding for you and your family and friends. Our hard work is paying off. A recent poll showed Zoo Miami as the “Best Date” in the county. Other surveys show that we are succeeding in our efforts to provide you with tremendous VALUE, innovative educational activities, and a top-ranked experience whatever your objective is during the time we share.
Zoological Society of Florida President & CEO