(Jan. 9, 2024, St. Louis, MO) Following the completion of a national search, the Saint Louis Zoo today has named Sabarras (pronounced “sa-BEAR-us”) George its next WildCare Park Director. He will assume the role on February 5, 2024.
George succeeds Jo-Elle Mogerman, Ph.D., who assumed the role of President and CEO of Philadelphia Zoo on October 30, 2023.
“I believe that our staff, supporters and the community will really like Sabarras,” said Dwight Scott, Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “I’m confident that he will help grow our conservation efforts and successfully lead the development of WildCare Park that will open in 2027 with amazing guest experiences.”
George has over 25 years of executive leadership and operations experience. For nearly six years, George has worked at the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). He currently serves as the Vice President of Operations and Facilities and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that role, George was the Deputy Chief Operating Officer. In his time at DZS, he has overseen all internal operations at the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center, including multi-site facilities management, security, marketing, retail, grounds and construction on 125 acres.
Before joining DZS, George resided in Lansing, Michigan, working for Sparrow Health System as the Vice President of Guest Services & Operations and as the Executive Director of Strategic Health & Wellness before that. George also served as the Executive Director of Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club.
“I am so excited for the opportunity to contribute my expertise and passion to an institution that shares my commitment to preserving and conserving the environment and the habitat of animals,” said George. “The Saint Louis Zoo is a world leader as a zoo and conservation organization. I can’t wait to be a part of the team that continues to find ways to improve and grow.”
“Sabarras has been instrumental to Detroit Zoological Society’s commitment to igniting positive change for animals and nature, and we are really going to miss him,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. “I am so proud of Sabarras and all he has accomplished here, and I am sure he will be hugely successful in his new role. The Saint Louis Zoo is getting someone who possesses a strategic, forward-thinking mindset, unmatched leadership skills and an incredible working knowledge of the zoo industry.”
George received his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in organizational leadership and change management from Colorado State University.
George will be a member of the Zoo’s executive staff and report to Dwight Scott, Dana Brown President & CEO.
George and his wife, Angelique, have two children: a daughter who is married and has three little boys, and a son in college.
WildCare Park Update
Four critically endangered addax and two endangered Grevy's zebras now reside at Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park located in north St. Louis County. These animals are within the Dana Brown Conservation Pasture, a large natural space dedicated for breeding and conservation efforts, which is part of the Kent Family Conservation and Animal Science Center at WildCare Park. The transition area helps the animals acclimate to their new space. The two species each will have access to 10 acres of pasture once they are fully acclimated.
The zebras and addax came to WildCare Park in fall 2023 from the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park and from other Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos. When WildCare Park opens to the public in 2027, more than 250 animals are expected to be living there. Acquiring animals from other accredited facilities and building appropriate animal social groups takes time. For the public opening, the focus is on endangered ungulates — hoofed mammals — as well as birds and other threatened species.
Over the last year and a half, construction at WildCare Park has consisted of demolition of a few older buildings, fence installation and grading around the perimeter of the property, restoration of 260 acres back to native grasses, construction of barns and a utility building, and renovation of the headquarters building with a new observation deck.
WildCare Park features two completely different, but highly synergistic components. The first is what the public will experience, a unique outdoor adventure that sends guests on a safari through herds of animals roaming wild over gently rolling grassy meadows and through native forests. The second component is the Kent Family Conservation and Animal Science Center, a dedicated facility within WildCare Park to sustain endangered and threatened species, made possible by the generosity of the Jerry and Judy Kent Family. The first animals to arrive are living in the pastures and barns in this area.
For more information on WildCare Park, visit stlzoo.org/wildcarepark.
About the Saint Louis Zoo
Home to over 16,000 animals, representing nearly 500 species, the Saint Louis Zoo is recognized worldwide for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research, and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Saint Louis Zoo is the most-visited attraction in the region. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Saint Louis Zoo is part of an elite group of institutions that meet the highest standards in animal care as well as provide fun, safe and educational family experiences. The Saint Louis Zoo and the other AZA-accredited institutions collectively dedicate millions of dollars annually to support scientific research, conservation and education programs. For more information, visit stlzoo.org.