Manuel Mollinedo to direct Honolulu Zoo
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2011:
HONOLULU–-Former Los Angeles and San Francisco Zoo director Manuel Mollinedo, 64, was on December 16, 2010 introduced as the new director of the Honolulu Zoo.
Mollinedo, then heading the Los Angeles Parks & Recreation Department, with no background in zoo work, was in September 1995 drafted to run the Los Angeles Zoo on an interim basis. Several of the animal exhibits were frequent targets of protest. The American Zoo Association had given the zoo a year to make improvements or lose accreditation. By year’s end Mollinedo was credited by the AZA and the Los Angeles city council with achieving an unexpectedly quick turnaround, winning over some of the zoo’s leading critics. Made zoo director on a permanent basis, Mollinedo introduced a series of ambitious upgrades to most of the major Los Angeles Zoo exhbits, but came under criticism after a Komodo dragon bit a celebrity guess in 2001.
Hired away by the San Francisco Zoo in 2004, Mollinedo raised attendance to the the highest level it had reached in 25 years, but resigned in February 2008, about six weeks after a tiger leaped out of her exhibit to kill a 17-year-old visitor on Christmas Day 2007. Mollinedo had told media that the walls around the tiger exhibit were four feet higher than they were. Subsequent investigation found that drainage work done more than 20 years earlier had raised the floor of the exhibit where the attack occurred by about one foot.