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ABQ BioPark Associate Director Chosen By AZA for Leadership Program

Individuals chosen based on demonstrated interest and ability to advance to a director role in an AZA-accredited facility in the next five years.

Feb. 11, 2022 - ABQ BioPark Associate Director Bob Lee was one of only 10 zoo and aquarium professionals from across the country to recently be selected by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its 2022 Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP).

AZA selects individuals for this program based on demonstrated interest and ability to advance to a director role in an AZA-accredited facility in the next five years. As a result, Lee will complete a yearlong course focused on honing the executive skills and knowledge needed to lead the zoo and aquarium community into the future.

“I am honored to be selected to join the talented group of individuals that make up this year’s ELDP cohort,” Lee said. “I truly appreciate the support of BioPark leadership and the New Mexico BioPark Society that will allow me to participate. This is an amazing opportunity and one that I will work tirelessly at as I represent the staff and community of the BioPark to the fullest.”

ABQ BioPark Director Stephanie Stowell added, “Bob is a tremendous asset to the BioPark. He is already a competent leader who challenges and empowers our team to grow their own skills. This program is an incredible opportunity for him and the BioPark to reach their fullest potential.”

Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA, says leadership is a priority for the organization, and that is why this program exists. “ELDP participants are committed to the advancement of the zoological profession through personal growth and development of leadership capacities,” he said. “In 2022, we have another exceptional and exceptionally diverse class, who will bring their unique experiences to the program, helping AZA to develop those who will lead our community in the future.”

Lee joined the ABQ BioPark leadership team in June 2021. He has extensive animal management experience, with a career-long focus on elephants. Before coming to Albuquerque, Lee was the interim program director of animal care and conservation at the Oregon Zoo. He serves as the AZA Species Survival Plan coordinator and studbook keeper for Asian elephants and as a steering committee member of the AZA Elephant Taxonomic Advisory Group.

He has also been active in research. In August 2021, he co-authored the paper, “Supporting Zoo Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Welfare and Herd Dynamics with a More Complex and Expanded Habitat,” which appeared in the journal Animals. The research explored methods to provide increased health and welfare to Asian elephants living in zoological facilities.