News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
February 6, 2020

Chicago Zoological Society Announces Beginning Search for New CEO
Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., to Retire after 17 Years

Brookfield, Ill. -- After 17 years as president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., has informed the Board of Directors that his future plans are to retire and not renew another long-term contract.

Under Strahl’s leadership, there has been much progress, growth, and many positive changes at Brookfield Zoo. These include furthering the Society’s mission with the development of the programmatic Centers of Excellence—Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare and Center for Conservation Leadership.

“It has been an honor to serve as CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D. “The Society was chartered nearly 100 years ago. As we reach this significant milestone, we celebrate the strong public-private partnerships that have been developed throughout the greater Cook County region. I look forward to working with the Board and staff to ensure the completion of CZS’s master plan and to support a successful and smooth transition of my successor.”

The timeline for a new CEO is unknown at this point, However with the dialog just beginning, the Society’s Board of Trustees expects to choose a search firm within the next few months to begin the in-depth process of selecting the right candidate to guide the evolving footprint of Brookfield Zoo that includes future exhibits and capital projects.

“We brought Stuart in to take CZS to the next level, and he has guided our institution through three strategic plans and has positioned us for success in animal care, conservation leadership, and a family-friendly destination for current and future generations,” said John Grube, chairman of the board of trustees for CZS. “We are happy for Stuart and wish him the best as he now focuses on family and his outside interests in conservation. We look forward to working with him as we go through this transition.”

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

Photo Captions—credit Chicago Zoological Society
Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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