The more than 300 animals at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens have a new champion today. Richard Glover takes the helm as the Zoo CEO ready to energetically tell the story of conservation and help grow the Central Florida Zoo!
The Zoo is the largest attraction in Seminole County, yet Glover sees tremendous growth opportunities for the zoo near the shores of Lake Monroe. Glover takes over for CEO Dino Ferri, who retired to pursue business interests. Glover was selected after a nationwide search of zoo and attraction executives.
With a passion for both conservation and zoos’ missions to promote education about threatened and endangered animals, Glover has spent thousands of hours volunteering in zoos and other animal conservation organizations in addition to his professional work. His favorite animal? A rhino, which is also one of the Central Florida Zoo’s biggest stars.
“I’ve always loved and been fascinated with animals. Growing up, my family visited zoos and aquariums frequently on our vacations, and I was that little 5-year-old boy whose parents were chasing him around the zoo as I chased the peacocks,” Glover said. “That love evolved into a passion for animal conservation and welfare, and I’m so proud to work with a like-minded board and staff who are intent on making a significant positive impact on conservation and conservation education. Their enthusiasm and passion were a large part of what drew me to this position.”
Glover comes to the Zoo two years after the pandemic threatened the institution’s future. Now, the Zoo has seen strong attendance following its wildly popular Asian Lantern Festival. Glover wants to build on that momentum to continue to put the Zoo in a strong financial position, including increasing the donor base and adding attractions and conservation programs.
“The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has a long history in Seminole County, and I’m excited to help write the Zoo’s next chapter,” Glover said. “The board of directors has committed to a formal strategic planning process, and I’m looking forward to working with the board, staff, local officials and many other stakeholders on that process to ensure the Zoo remains a vital asset for the local community. I’m also excited about charting a course that will enhance our guest experience and help us grow our conservation and education impact locally, regionally and beyond.”
Zoo Board Chairman Chandler Robertson said Glover’s experience as Vice President of Communications and Marketing at Space Center Houston and at several aquariums, plus his deep love of conservation including a passion for rhinos, helped guide the board. In addition to marketing, Glover has a deep understanding of the development and community building that is critical for an outstanding CEO.
“Our zoo is at the crossroads. We have fought back from the pandemic and are now seeing outstanding support from Central Florida. We want to see that continue,” Robertson said. “We are excited about the future. We know there is work to be done, but we know this is a highly popular zoo with strong conservation initiatives. Richard will be instrumental in moving us forward in development and expanding our base well beyond Seminole County.”