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​The new acting CEO of the Johannesburg Zoo, Louise Gordon, has over two decades of experience working for the organisation.
LOUISE Gordon, the Johannesburg Zoo’s executive manager of marketing and education, has taken over as the acting CEO following the resignation of former head Stephen van der Spuy at the end of March.

Louise Gordon the new acting CEOLouise Gordon the new acting CEOGordon has over two decades' worth of experience at the zoo - she joined the zoo in 1988 as an information officer and has steadily progressed within the organisation.

Four years later she took the position of curator of education, and then became the manager of education in 2000. She was promoted to executive manager of marketing and education in 2006.

According to Gordon, it has been a very interesting career development as education awareness and marketing work hand in hand.

“We have now developed biodiversity events that market the zoo and raise awareness of conservation and biodiversity issues, plus we use all big events such as Mother’s Day or Sasol Birds and Birding Fair to raise awareness of conservation issues,” she says.

Gordon, who was a science teacher science teacher before she joined the zoo, holds an Honours degree in zoology from the University of Johannesburg and a Master degree in environmental education from Rhodes University.

In mid 2011, Gordon was nominated for the Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards. The awards, which were organised by publishing house CEO Communications, recognises the work of women who have excelled in specialised sectors such as agriculture, building and construction, mining and public enterprises.

Gordon was recognised for her role in doubling the number of visitors at the zoo - she began marketing at the zoo in 2000, and since then the number of visitors have grown from 270 000 in 2000 to 550 000 currently.

She says that as an acting CEO, she wants to ensure a smooth merger with City Parks, another one of the City of Johannesburg's entities. The City is currently implementing an institutional review process where certain entities and department will merge in order to ensure efficiency and sustainable service delivery within the City.

Van der Spuy who begun his journey with the zoo eight years ago as an executive manager of the animal department. In 2008, he was appointed to head the zoo as a CEO.

Van der Spuy leaves behind a couple of achievements for the zoo. During his time at the zoo, he assisted in implementing many progressive changes to enhance animal welfare.

Among other things, he introduced the role of behaviour enrichment officer and pest control officer to further enhance the care given to the animals house at the zoo.

According to Letta Madlala, the zoo’s brand and communication manger, the board and management of the Johannesburg Zoo extend their gratitude to Van der Spuy for his commitment to the zoo over the last eight years and wishes him all the best in his future endeavours.

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