The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced Thursday that CEO and president Don Hutchinson will step down after 12 years.
Hutchinson was chosen to lead the zoo on an interim basis in January 2008, but he remained in the position for the next decade. His last day will be June 30, 2020.
Hutchinson said he felt honored to have served.
“I cannot overstate my deep appreciation for the opportunity to work with so many talented and enthusiastic professionals who are dedicated to saving animals from extinction,” he said in a news release from the zoo. “Every person at the Zoo is devoted to that mission from the ground up. I’ve seen tremendous change at the Zoo and I’m proud of where we are today.”
Jim Witty, chairman of the board of trustees, said Hutchinson will be missed.
“Through some very tough times, his leadership has demonstrated his determination and ability to make The Maryland Zoo a first-class organization for animals, staff and guests,” Witty said in the news release. “He has played an instrumental role in the overall transformation of the Zoo and his commitment to making the Zoo a better place going forward cannot be overstated.”
Hutchinson has led a varied career and previously served as Baltimore County executive, Maryland state senator, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee and regional president of SunTrust Bank.
Zoo officials praised his leadership and noted that his tenure saw the first birth of an African elephant at the Maryland Zoo, the addition of grizzly bears, the return of bobcats and new exhibits on penguins, golden frogs and hellbenders. Last week, officials celebrated the opening of expanded habitats for lions, giraffes and elephants, the most extensive renovation in zoo history.
The Maryland Zoological Society has formed a search committee to find the next president. Officials say they will release a job announcement in the coming weeks.