The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has announced that Rick Schuiteman has been named executive director, replacing Jim Anderson, who announced in March that he would retire at the end of the 2020 season.
As the new executive director at the zoo, 3411 Sherman Blvd., Schuiteman said in a news release, “It’s a great privilege and honor to be only the third executive director of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. I’m excited to lead the team into its next phase of growth as we continue to focus on connecting kids and animals, strengthening families, and inspiring people to care for the wild world we share.”
For Schuiteman, leadership is all about helping staff achieve their goals and the organization’s mission.
He brings over 30 years of progressive leadership and experience from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in the areas of park operations, entertainment, guest services, park development, and his passion for animals as the new executive director.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo,” he said in the news release. “From the moment I visited the zoo, I knew it was a perfect fit for me. It’s an intimate zoo with natural animal exhibits, amazing guest service, passionate staff and volunteers, and the animal care is exceptional. All the things that make it a world class zoo. I knew I had to be a part of this team!”
At the SeaWorld San Diego park he helped create and produce a variety of park special events and animal presentations. He and his team won numerous IAAPA honors and awards for their shows and events. He served as a vice president at the San Diego park until recently when he moved to a more global role directly impacting in-park branding, messaging, and the park visual experience at SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, and the Busch Gardens parks.
He grew up visiting the Stone Zoo and New England Aquarium in Boston. In his teens, his family moved to San Diego where they would visit the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. He is a graduate of San Diego State University. He, his wife, Kristin, and two of their three children are excited to make Fort Wayne their new home.
Anderson spent 44 years at the zoo. He originally joined it in 1976 as a seasonal zoo keeper and was promoted to curator in 1979 and assistant director under founding executive director, Earl Wells in 1986.
Anderson has led or been a part of a number of highlights and initiatives over the course of his 44 years at the zoo, including:
• An increase in developed acreage from 7 to 40
• An increase of animals from 100 to more than 1,500
• An increase of in-season employees from 25 to more than 400
• An increase in memberships from 1,200 to nearly 16,000
• Dedicated annual investments in animal-conservation partner organizations of more than $280,000 both locally and around the world
For more on the zoo, see www.kidszoo.org.