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The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is looking for a passionate and energized President/CEO to lead this cherished community asset and mission-driven organization to even higher heights.  Building off a history of growth, new exhibits, and a growing conservation impact, the Zoo’s next leader will collaboratively work with the community, its key stakeholders and partners, including the City of Sioux Falls, to become an even stronger destination and conservation leader throughout the region and beyond.

The President will work with a committed board, a passionate staff, dedicated volunteers, and a diverse and outstanding animal collection to develop breakthrough strategies to create engaging guest experiences, raise awareness, and bolster financial sustainability. The individual in this role will be results-driven with a proven ability to adapt to a dynamic and changing zoo landscape and be able to strengthen the organization and its business model.

Building a high-performance team culture will be a prime focus of the Zoo’s next leader, with the capacity to foster a caring, inclusive, and listening environment. The President will create an organization built on a set of shared core values embraced by the entire Zoo team and will be driven to retain and develop the best talent throughout the Zoo.

Located in the vibrant community of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this is a Zoo poised for greater impact and potential in terms of its connection to the community, conservation mission, and financial success. The next CEO will work closely with the Board in crafting the vision for the Zoo and help implement an evolving master plan. The individual for this role should be a highly respected leader in their community, preferably with an understanding of the animal, conservation, or cultural attractions field. They must understand what it takes to adapt to new opportunities in a purpose-driven, visitor- focused organization.

This job offers a tremendous opportunity to the right leader with the ideal mix of skills and qualifications. The new CEO will provide the right mix of leadership and resolve to deftly transform the current organization to becoming an even stronger community partner and a quality of life asset for the Sioux Falls region.



The chief executive of the Great Plains Zoo is responsible for the overall strategic and operational leadership of the organization. The President/CEO will exhibit a high level of teamwork, collaboration and influencing skills to achieve outstanding performance throughout the organization, bringing the team together around a unified and bold vision for the future. Enhancing the Zoo as a destination in the region, while strengthening its role as a force for conservation will be critical for the President/CEO. This individual will provide leadership across the organization and inspire her or his staff to excellence in all areas.

The President/CEO will need to balance internal management and team leadership responsibilities with community and external relations, managing the relationship with the Zoo’s City partner as well as fundraising duties to realize the long-term vision of the Zoo.


The President/CEO leads, plans, and monitors all activities of the Zoo as per the policies prescribed by the Board of Directors. The President/CEO reports directly to the Board and is the primary spokesperson for the Zoo. He/she, working with the Board, will develop the vision for the Zoo and create strategies for implementation. He or she provides the Board with strategic and actionable recommendations on issues and opportunities confronting the Zoo. The President/CEO is responsible for the day-to-day management of Zoo operations.


The President/CEO manages the Zoo’s resources, both personnel and fiscal, including attracting, retaining, developing and evaluating professional staff.  The President/CEO sets the tone for the culture of the Zoo, ensuring a high-performing, collaborative and rewarding workplace—a workplace of choice for the region.





The following skills are necessary for this position:


· A proven leader of people, with the ability to create a strong and values-based organizational culture;

· A depth of experience in the leadership and management of an accredited zoological park or aquarium, animal welfare, conservation, or similar visitor-related institution;

· Extensive track record as a community leader with experience in fundraising and development with ability to build and cultivate donor relationships and secure major gifts to support the growth of the Zoo;

· Demonstrated ability and experience working with external government and cultural stakeholders to advocate for the Zoo and identify and develop alternate public support;

· Prior success in working with a Board of Directors, volunteers, civic and community leaders, the media, government and professional associations;

· History of growing revenue, particularly from guest services and earned income streams;

· Proven experience in creating, managing, and monitoring operational and capital budgets as well as strategic and master plans;

· An understanding of technology applications to maximize performance; enhance experiences; and reach new and diverse audiences;

· Experience in dealing with the media, serving as the ‘face of an institution’ and an understanding of crisis communications;

· History developing or overseeing public and education programs;

· Ability to travel and represent the Zoo at industry conferences and programs and to identify industry best practices; and

· Demonstrated experience and knowledge of animal care standards and understanding of zoo design.


To be considered for this excellent opportunity, please contact David Walsh, Zoo Advisors at to receive the full position profile.


  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world.  The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones.  Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.