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Philadelphia Zoo Names Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman, Ph.D. to Lead America’s First Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo and a beloved destination for people around the world, announced today that Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman will assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer beginning October 30, 2023.

Succeeding Vikram Dewan’s 16+ year tenure leading the institution, Dr. Mogerman comes to Philadelphia as its 15th President in its 164-year history after serving as the Director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park in Missouri since 2019.

“As we launched our national search at the beginning of the year, we embarked on a journey to find the very best person to lead our forward-thinking organization. Dr. Mogerman’s impressive career and accomplishments speak for themselves, but it was her clear commitment to community, animal welfare, staff development, and operational excellence that made her the right fit for our renowned Zoo,” said Joanna McNeil Lewis, Chair of Philadelphia Zoo Board of Directors.

Prior to serving as Director in St. Louis, Dr. Mogerman was the Vice President of Learning and Community at the Shedd Aquarium and spent nearly 14 years in leadership roles at the Brookfield Zoo, both in the Chicago metro area. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College, Dr. Mogerman attained a master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota as well as a doctorate in biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I am honored to be selected as the next President & CEO of Philadelphia Zoo,” said Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman. “I look forward to leading Philadelphia’s exceptional team to advance the Zoo’s mission and further its impact on the region while also contributing to conservation in ways that are meaningful locally, regionally and nationally. There’s a lot of amazing work underway at Philadelphia Zoo and together with the community and the Zoo team, I am certain we will catapult the nation’s first zoo into a model for zoos of the future.”

As Director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park, which is set to open to the public in 2027, Dr. Mogerman has been responsible for leading and planning the development of the 425-acre destination located in north St. Louis County, less than 30 minutes from Saint Louis Zoo. Her commitment to connecting people with animals and inspiring action for wildlife has been at the center of her efforts to build an impressive team and spearhead this $230 million wildlife project.

“Philadelphia Zoo is an important and relevant organization in wildlife conservation around the world. I am excited to support Jo-Elle as she takes the helm – she will undoubtedly foster a bright future for our Zoo,” said Philadelphia Zoo’s current President & CEO, Vikram Dewan.

Reinforcing his enthusiasm, President & CEO of Saint Louis Zoo, Dwight Scott, added “To say it’s been a privilege to work with Dr. Mogerman is an understatement. She’s a strategic leader and visionary, a dedicated conservationist, and a tremendous project manager and problem solver. While she’ll be missed here in Saint Louis, we look forward to partnering with her and her colleagues in Philadelphia.”
Dr. Mogerman will continue as the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park Director through the end of October as the team there hits several key milestones for the project. This includes completion of the pilot barn and pastures to welcome the arrival of the first round of animals in the near future.