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Buffalo Zoo president Donna Fernandes announces retirement

The Buffalo Zoo

The Buffalo Zoo is conducting a national search for its next leader, with president Donna Fernandes on Thursday announcing her retirement in spring 2017.

Fernandes, 57, is expected to stay involved with long-term exhibit design and capital campaign fund raising. However, her decision to retire will allow her to spend more time with her family, all of whom live out of town.

When Fernandes arrived in Buffalo in 2000, the Buffalo Zoo says it was facing the loss of its professional accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a steady decline in visitation due to outdated exhibits and aging infrastructure. Sixteen years later, the Zoo has over $50 million in new exhibits and visitor attractions and annual attendance exceeding 500,000.

The Zoo's Board of Directors credits Fernandes as instrumental in the formulation of a new master plan to completely transform the third oldest zoo in the country into one of the best in the country. During her
tenure, numerous projects have been completed on time and on budget, including Vanishing Animals, Ecostation, Otter Creek, Sea Lion Cove, M&T Bank Rainforest Falls, Delta Sonic Heritage Farm and Garman Family Arctic Edge.

Fernandes announced to staff Thursday morning that she will be retiring from her role as president.

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