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Hunt for new San Francisco Zoo director postponed

June 30, 2008 |  3:00 pm

The San Francisco Zoo is not having its best year. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "the institution is in such disarray that officials have decided not to look for a new zoo director until they can get things in order." Tatiana_escaped_from_her_grotto_las

Widely acknowledged problems at the city-owned zoo include decreased attendance after last year's tiger attack on a teenage visitor, low employee morale and a budget stretched thin from emergency repairs, chronic maintenance problems and declining revenue. The tiger, pictured here, was shot and killed after the mauling. As the Chronicle reports:

"We would like to stabilize the morale and our finances a little bit over the next few months before we dive into a national executive director search," said Nick Podell, chairman of the nonprofit San Francisco Zoological Society, which operates the zoo on the city's behalf. "I would like to clean house a bit so we don't go out and ask somebody to fix the full mess."

The zoo's director, Manuel Mollinedo, was pushed out earlier this month in part, sources said, because of the dismally low morale among keepers and other staff members. A member of the fundraising board of directors, Hewlett-Packard attorney Tanya McVeigh Peterson, has taken over as interim director. The zoo had its share of issues -- including low staff morale and deteriorating exhibits -- even before Christmas, when Tatiana the Siberian tiger escaped and fatally mauled 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. before she was shot to death by police.

Photo: Associated Press

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