Fresno Zoo COO appointed to become Milwaukee County Zoo’s next director

Amos Morris

Amos Morris, the deputy director and chief operating officer for a zoo in Fresno, California, has been selected as the next leader of the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley announced on Friday Morris’s appointment as zoo director, which is pending confirmation from the county board in September.

Morris, who has been with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for the past three years, would be Milwaukee County’s first Black zoo director.

He succeeds Chuck Wikenhauser, who retired in April after more than 30 years with the zoo.

Morris previously was director of the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville, Indiana and executive director of the Evansville Zoological Society. He has also held positions at the Pittsburg Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Roger William’s Park Zoo in Rhode Island, and the Dallas Zoo.

“Amos’ 33 years of experience in zoo operations, organizational management, and animal management will serve the county zoo well as we seek to maintain one of the top zoos in the nation for enrichment, education, and entertainment,” Crowley said.

“The (Milwaukee) County Zoo has never had Black leadership in its 126-year history and in the spirit of the first focus area of our strategic plan, intentional inclusion, we’re proud to continue building a county government that is representative of the diverse array of talent our area has to offer,” Crowley added.

Morris was the first Black member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ board of directors and the first Black zoo director of an AZA accredited zoo.

“It is an honor to be appointed as the next director of the (Milwaukee) County Zoo and be trusted to take the reins after the retirement of its longest-serving director and a zoo profession I deeply respect,” Morris said. “I’m excited to build on the successes of the last three decades and continue to help the Zoo evolve to meet the needs of the animals in our care and the audiences we serve.”

Morris is expected to begin serving as the leader of the Milwaukee County Zoo on Aug. 2.

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