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Gil Boese Named Zoo Director Emeritus

Gil Boese, Zoological Society chief executive officer, has been named Zoo Director Emeritus by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Boese, who has headed the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) since 1989, served as Zoo director from 1980 to 1989. In a ceremony Dec. 14 attended by about 200 people at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Walker presented Boese with a plaque commending him for “his exceptional leadership and involvement in education and conservation” during his quarter-century of working on Zoo grounds.

Said Walker: “The Zoo’s visitors benefit from the numerous exhibits and projects he oversaw, and the research programs he implemented that extend beyond our borders, including the Birds Without Borders-Aves Sin Fronteras® Wisconsin/Belize, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International [for which Boese served as chairman], Lewa Conservancy in Kenya, and the Runaway Creek Nature Preserve in Belize, Central America [which Boese oversees].” Boese also has been named Zoological Society President Emeritus. Under his leadership, the Zoological Society has increased membership from a few thousand in 1989 to 52,000 today and has expanded ZSM education programs from serving a few hundred to more than 459,000 in 2003-2004. In its last fiscal year, the ZSM provided more than $5.1 million in Zoo support. Boese also has been heavily involved in a nearly $30 million capital campaign for the Zoo, of which the ZSM raised more than half.

Boese will retire Jan. 1, 2006, as CEO of the Zoological Society, but he will continue as president of the ZSM’s partner, the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, Inc., which he helped found in 1993. He also will serve as project manager for Zoo capital campaign projects through 2008. In addition, he plans to spend more time with his original love, field research and conservation. He has published articles on his primate research in West Africa, and articles and book chapters on conservation issues. He graduated in 1973 from Johns Hopkins University with a Ph.D. in pathology, behavior and ecology. Among his other honors, Boese was recognized in 2005 with the Community Impact Award from Growth Design Corp. in Milwaukee; honored in 2004 by UNESCO in Paris, France, for directing the ZSM’s support of 12 years of research and conservation of bonobos (endangered great apes) in the African Congo; received the Dr. Marlin Perkins Conservationist of the Year Award in 1999; and was named Milwaukee County Man of the Year in 1983 by the COPS Citizens Group.

Boese and his wife, Lillian, who served as ZSM executive director in the 1980s, live in Pewaukee. They have led safaris to Africa, Belize and other parts of the world for the Zoological Society.

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For more information, call: Robin Higgins at (414) 258-2333 - December 13, 2005