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New chief in place at Zoological Society of Florida

 
 
Bill Moore has been named president and CEO of the Zoological Society of Florida.
Bill Moore has been named president and CEO of the Zoological Society of Florida.

hsampson@MiamiHerald.com

After searching for more than six months, the Zoological Society of Florida has a new president and CEO.

Bill Moore joins the nonprofit, which supports Zoo Miami, as the zoo is updating its entrance and adding a Florida-centric exhibit.

Moore, who was chief operating officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex until September of last year, has experience with such things: He oversaw a massive capital project at the center and created a space-shuttle display including a museum with interactive exhibits.

Before moving to the Kennedy Space Center, Moore, 62, was president and CEO of the Independence Visitor Center Corporation of Philadelphia. Before that, he was an executive at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation. He also has held positions on the board of Visit Florida and the Brevard Zoo.

“Bill is no stranger to the ever-changing and fast-paced tourism industry,” the society’s board chair, Harlan Chiron, said in a statement. “He brings a passion for wildlife appreciation and conservation, which will help propel our institutional growth.”

Moore started at the beginning of the year, but news of his hiring was announced Wednesday. The former president and CEO, Benjamin H. Pingree, left in June after 2 1/2 years.

Moore said he is excited about opportunities to create an entertainment district around the zoo and about a new entrance being built at the attraction. The Florida: Mission Everglades exhibit, a $40 million addition, has a target date of late 2015.

“The real challenges are how do we make the zoo’s attendance grow bigger, how do we get our membership to grow, how do we raise some additional money for the zoo?” Moore said. “It’s a competitive environment.”

The latest financial data available, for the fiscal year ending in September 2012, shows that the nonprofit had operating revenue of about $3.06 million, but expenses outpaced those at almost $3.5 million.

Cindy Castelblanco, a spokeswoman for the zoo and society, said last fiscal year brought some strong numbers. Attendance neared the one million mark, reaching almost 960,000, and the membership base included 16,000 households, or more than 64,000 individuals.

“Of course, we’re always looking to grow,” she said.

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