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The San Diego Zoo gets into action with the first group of animals from the new zoo’s Africa exhibit.
The San Diego Zoo has a new zookeeper. And he wasn’t one of the lucky ones.
Logan McBurney returned to work in late January, after serving seven months as interim director, with the opening of the zoo’s African Wildlife Experience, the first new African exhibit in a decade. The exhibit celebrates the lives of animals in their natural habitat, where a combination of science and education will promote “a broader understanding of wildlife.”
McBurney is a wildlife biologist with a strong commitment to Africa, a world with which he was never fully at home. His career, which involved stints at several zoos, started in California in 1994, studying the effects of the Endangered Species Act, and ended in 2004 as the first African director of the National Park Service’s San Diego division.
But he found himself on the other side of the fence in 2006, when he was offered the post of executive director of the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, a post he held for two years before stepping down following a fight with the board.
“I grew up in Southern California, the land of the great wide open,” McBurney said. “And I love that openness. We have a great diversity and great variety of opportunities, and, to me, that’s beautiful.”
McBurney’s tenure has included an unsuccessful attempt at a public referendum, as well as efforts to close the zoo in 2009 and 2014. And he’s made a point to keep the door open to future expansion at the zoo, which has struggled to find an audience for Africa.
“What I hear is that our public needs to be involved with the wildlife and the animals in a bigger way,” he said. “I think there’s a responsibility here to take care of the animals by the people. How