Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's executive director, Dr. Chris Kuhar, was elected to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Board of Directors Sunday in Salt Lake City, Utah during the accrediting organization's annual zoo industry conference.
Dr. Kuhar's extensive experience, leadership, and commitment to maximizing animal care and welfare make him an excellent fit for serving on AZA's Board of Directors as one of its 13 members, said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos are leaders in conservation worldwide, and Dr. Kuhar will serve as one of the driving forces behind growing these initiatives and engaging visitors in taking actions to help protect endangered and threatened wildlife species for future generations.
Kuhar will be involved in leadership aspects of the national organization, including accreditation, ethics, animal welfare, and conservation. Each year, AZA's 230 accredited facilities collectively contribute $160 million to field conservation projects that help to protect species across the world. Accredited local zoos and aquariums serve more than 183 million visitors, welcome more than 12 million students on educational field trips, contribute $17.4 billion to the U.S. economy and support 176,000 jobs.
AZA's Board of Directors is comprised of zoological professionals from across the country. They work in a volunteer capacity for three year terms. Kuhar's term will begin October 1.
Sitting on the AZA Board of Directors is an honor and a highpoint for my career, said Kuhar. To receive such a vote of confidence from my peers in the industry, many of whom I look up to as great examples of what a zoo director should be, is a nice endorsement.
Kuhar returned to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2008 as Curator of Primates and Small Mammals. His duties expanded and his title was changed to Curator of Animals in 2012. He was named Executive Zoo Director in 2013.
Prior to his return, Kuhar was the Research Manager at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where he studied animal behavior for nearly five years. He previously worked as a Research Assistant at Zoo Atlanta from 2000 to 2003 and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo from 1997 to 2000.
Kuhar, originally from Lorain, Ohio, received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Akron in 1997, his Master of Science in zoology from Oklahoma State University in 2000 and his doctorate in experimental psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo achieved its seventh consecutive AZA accreditation in 2014. Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $16.95 per person, $14.95 for seniors ages 62 and older, $12.95 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.