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Minnesota Zoo CEO named head of global zoo organization

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The director and CEO of the Minnesota Zoo for more than a decade was named president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Thursday at the organization's conference in Orlando, Fla.

Lee Ehmke will serve a two-year term as president, where he'll focus on global conservation efforts, MinnPost reported.

In September, Ehmke told the Pioneer Press that he hopes to learn from other zoo leaders about how to better connect visitors with animals and places zoos are working to save.

"As the future of wildlife and wild places becomes increasingly uncertain, the collective work of zoos and aquariums is more critical than ever," Ehmke said in a statement.

KARE 11 says Ehmke has served on the WAZA council since 2009. He succeeds Dr. Jörg Junhold, director of the Leipzig Zoo in Germany.

Before coming to the Minnesota Zoo in Aug. 2000, Ehmke was director of planning and design at New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo.

Ehmke took flack from state lawmakers last summer over the zoo's decision to close a popular dolphin exhibit. Lawmakers claimed the zoo was not upfront about the closure plans before the Legislature approved a $4 million bonding request.

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