Post from the President: A Heartfelt Thank You

September 8, 2021

Dear zoo friends and supporters,

As Lincoln Park Zoo’s President and CEO for the last 26 years and a zoo employee for 45, I am grateful beyond words to be engaged in the most meaningful and rewarding work possible: preserving and sharing wildlife and nature with Chicago and the world. I have been equally humbled to work and share the zoo with incredible staff, volunteers, trustees, members, donors, and guests who have given so much and, with each visit, made Lincoln Park Zoo a truly extraordinary place. And, I am so proud of what Lincoln Park Zoo has become: an urban oasis that’s driven by science and a commitment to animal care, horticulture, conservation, education, and connecting people to nature, for free, every day of the year.

It is, as such, with tremendous gratitude and excitement for the future—the zoo’s and my own—that I write to share I am retiring as of the end of this year.

As of January 1, 2022, Megan Ross, Ph.D., will take over as Lincoln Park Zoo’s President and CEO. Currently serving as our zoo director, Dr. Ross was selected to lead the zoo after a comprehensive, multi-year succession planning process facilitated by the Board of Trustees. Her vision for the growth of Lincoln Park Zoo’s care, community, and conservation work is clear and strong. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Ross’s vision, read about it here. I’m confident you’ll find it as inspiring as I do.

Before the end of my tenure, Lincoln Park Zoo will open our newest animal habitat, the capstone of The Pride of Chicago capital campaign, Pepper Family Wildlife Center. This expansive home for lions, red pandas, snow leopards, Canada lynx, learning experiences, and private events is one of the most exciting projects I’ve had the pleasure to oversee. We will also once again host ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ, a holiday tradition for many Chicagoans, and always a special time of year at the zoo for me. I hope you can visit and enjoy both of these in the coming months.

From my earliest days growing up in the Bronx Zoo, to my 45 years here in Chicago with Lincoln Park Zoo, I have seen up close how life has its natural cycles. While my time leading the zoo is coming to an end, my love for this work, this organization and the people I’ve worked with will stay with me. I am deeply grateful and honored to have led this organization and be a part of this community.

Please join me in a heartful congratulations to Dr. Ross and accept my deepest appreciations for your support during my tenure here at Lincoln Park Zoo.


Kevin J. Bell

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