Thursday, July 19, 2001

Educator Maynard coming back to zoo


His role will be leading foundation

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One of America's most popular zookeepers is headed back to Cincinnati.

        Thane Maynard, 47, a 22-year Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden employee, has been named vice president of the Cincinnati Conservation Foundation, a new post at the zoo.

        Mr. Maynard, director of the Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center since February 2000, starts the job Aug. 6.

Maynard
Maynard
        Author of 12 books and the zoo's former education director, Mr. Maynard was the most visible and most popular zoo employee for many years, a familiar sight — usually in khaki shorts and always with an animal on his arm — in Cincinnati schools and civic groups where he'd crack jokes, eat mealy worms and drive home his message that zoos are the future of animal conservation.

        He's a frequent guest on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and host of National Public Radio's 90-Second Naturalist, a spot about animals heard by millions every weekday.

        His new job is part of an overall management restructuring announced Wednesday by president/CEO Greggory Hudson.

        In other moves:

        • Jack Huelsman was named senior vice president, operations. Mr. Huelsman, associate director since 1992, has been with the zoo since 1970 when he started as a primate keeper.

        • A third position, vice president, animal science, is yet to be filled.

THANE MAYNARD
    • Born Orlando, Fla., 1954.
    • Left grad school at the University of Michigan for a job at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's newly formed education department, 1977.
    • Spent 22 years here, all in the zoo's education department.
    • Resigned, February 2000.
    • Directed Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center March 2000, to April 2001.
    • Married to Kathleen, a former Cincinnati Magazine writer
    • Three daughters: Caitlin, 20; Shailah, 17, and Lily, 12.
        “My goal is to surround myself with the most talented people possible in the top tier of management,” Mr. Hudson said. “With Jack's wealth of operations knowledge and Thane's passion for sharing the wonders of the zoo, I think we've taken a big step in that direction.

        “Thane has an incredible reputation in the zoo world. I'm looking for him to be a tremendous bridge between past and future successes. He and I had long talks several months ago when I was thinking about coming here. I realized then that he and I share a vision for Cincinnati.”

        In his new job, Mr. Maynard will oversee the education department where he worked during his entire 22 years here, and take over development duties as well, raising funds for conservation and educational programs.

        “It sounds like a cliche, but home is where the heart is,” Mr. Maynard said Wednesday, freshly back indoors after a morning of sea kayaking on Puget Sound. “David Attenborough has this great quote. He said, "Life is poured onto the land like wax onto a mold.' After 22 years, I feel I've been molded onto Cincinnati. I've always called Cincinnati home.

        “Don't get me wrong, Seattle is living in a place that looks like a postcard. It's a beautiful, hip, very outdoor place and I'm going to miss it. But you know what they say, you're only as far away as the nearest airport.”

        Mr. Maynard is anxious to get home: “It's exciting. Cincinnati is blessed with a global reputation because it already has an all-star team going full bore. ”

        One of the top goals of the foundation will be to make more people aware of zoo efforts in field conservation, conservation education and breeding research. “We need to tell their story more effectively,” he said.

        “All zoos have a tremendous mission in conservation, science, research, animal care. My job is to provide the oomph to make the programs even better and make sure people know about it. I think we have an opportunity to show the world what a zoo can be — a 3D version of National Geographic.

        “Fundraising in Cincinnati will be new to me, but it doesn't scare me. ”

        Mr. Maynard has already begun house hunting in Cincinnati, almost exclusively in the Wyoming area.

        First order of business when he moves back? “My daughters, I know, will head for Graeter's. But you know me, I'll be at Myra's Dionysus, my favorite beans and rice restaurant. I can taste it already.”

       



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