Omaha zoo president and CEO announces retirement

Thumbnail Dennis Pate Photo

OMAHA, Neb. (KLKN) – The president and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium announced his plan to retire early next year.

Dennis Pate has worked in zoos for 47 years, 13 of which were at Omaha’s Zoo.

Joining Henry Doorly as the president and CEO in 2009, Pate maintained the zoo’s status as Nebraska’s most visited attraction.

Pate created and completed a 10-year plan to improve guest services and amenities as well as state-of-the-art exhibits.

In 2016, Pate was instrumental in bringing elephants back to Henry Doorly, which led to two elephant calves being born this year.

“I cannot overstate the positive impact Dennis has had on our zoo,” Vice-Chairman Mogens Bay said. “He has been a catalyst for positive change.”

Under Pate’s leadership, Henry Doorly achieved record attendance, earned “World’s Best Zoo” by Travelocity, and “Business of the Year” from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

“Working at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has been the highlight of my professional life,” Pate said. “I feel very lucky to have landed in this community and Zoo with such an incredible staff and board.”

A national search for Pate’s replacement will take place over the next year.

“It is not going to be easy to replace Dennis. He was the exact right leader for our Zoo over the past 13 years and we should all be grateful,” Bay said. “Our challenge is to find someone who can build on his legacy.”

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