The Zoo from New to Drew

Jay FitzOur Town Leaders

Drew Rowan has been appointed as Zoo Knoxville’s interim president and CEO by the zoo’s board of directors. Rowan succeeds Lisa New, who served as president and CEO from 2013 until 2023. New announced her departure in December to assume the role as CEO at the Dallas Zoo.

A native Knoxvillian, Rowan returned to East Tennessee after a 16-year tenure at Denver Zoo where he began his career as a zookeeper caring for lions, hyena and African painted dogs. While at Denver, he served in several operational, strategic and administrative roles and oversaw daily operations, external relations and strategic planning. He holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and an MBA from Regis University. Rowan has served as chief operations officer at Zoo Knoxville since August 2022, overseeing daily operations, animal care, education, guest experience and marketing and communications.

Rowan called Zoo Knoxville “one of Knoxville’s treasures,” and said he is honored to “keep it on course as we transition to our next era of leadership.”

Zoo Knoxville contributed information and quotes for this story.


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