Zoo Knoxville has lost its leader. Lisa New will start Jan. 15, 2024, as chief executive officer of the Dallas Zoo – perhaps soon-to-be Zoo Dallas.
New is the first female CEO in the zoo’s 135-year history. She leaves after 10 years as president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville. But she started here at the ground level in 1990 as a member of the zoo’s conservation science team.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said: “Lisa New has been an amazing leader for Zoo Knoxville, helping us become a national leader in conservation and education, not to mention one of biggest attractions in our community. I wish Lisa well as she moves on to a new city and thank her for the legacy she’s leaving behind.”
“Lisa has been a visionary leader who changed the trajectory for Zoo Knoxville,” says Russ Watkins, incoming chair of the Zoo Knoxville board of directors. “Over the last 10 years, she has successfully executed an ambitious plan that transformed our zoo. From the time she took the helm in 2013, our attendance has increased by 52 percent and our revenue has grown by 105 percent. She has laid a foundation that will ensure we continue to thrive, and she should be very proud of her legacy here in Knoxville.”
New was elected in October 2023 to chair the board of directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Zoo Knoxville has about 1,200 animals on 53 acres in East Knoxville.
The Dallas Zoo has 2,000-plus animals in a 106-acre park. It is the largest zoo in Texas and consistently ranks in the Top 10 zoos nationwide.