May 5th, 2014 | Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: Metro, Environment

Oregon Zoo Director and Top Veterinarian Both Out

rosetulilyNews of the zoo’s newest calf, Lily (above, with mother Rose-Tu) was clouded by questions of the calf’s ownership. - IMAGE: Michael Durham

The Oregon Zoo's director and its chief veterinarian are both out of a job.

Regional planning agency Metro, which runs the zoo, announced this afternoon that Oregon Zoo director Kim Smith and chief veterinarian Mitch Finnegan are no longer employed there.

General Manager of Metro Visitor Venues Teri Dresler is taking over zoo operations, Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh confirms to WW.

"It's Metro policy not to comment on personnel matters," says Middaugh. "We are pleased that Teri brings a really strong background. The zoo will be in good hands."

Middaugh also declined to comment on whether the zoo has any pending investigations into mismanagement by Smith or Finnegan.

"If you're asking whether we anticipate any other immediate announcements, the answer is no," he says. "In the coming weeks, we'll be reaching out to folks and reconnecting with the community. We look forward to a robust conversation with stakeholders."

Smith was at the center of a 2012 controversy over revelations by The Seattle Times that the zoo had sold rights to a newborn elephant calf, Lily, through a breeding agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel, a California-based elephant rental company that had been accused by animal-rights activists of cruelty to its herd.

WW also reported in 2012 that under Smith, the Oregon Zoo had shifted from its plans to use a voter-funded bond to give its elephants more room to roam in Clackamas County.

Rather than simply give the elephants a second home, the zoo decided to buy a second herd and begin a new, aggressive breeding program, according to zoo documents.

“We’ve always been very clear on our vision of breeding elephants,” Smith told WW at the time.

 
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