For Release: February 27, 2004
Contact: Peper Long 202-673-0206
National Zoo Director Lucy Spelman Announces Resignation
On Feb. 25, Dr. Lucy H. Spelman announced her resignation as director of the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, effective at the end of the year.
"I've concluded that it is time for me to move on at the end of this year, Spelman said. I've become a lightening rod for too much attention that has become a distraction for the Zoo and the Smithsonian. For the rest of the year, Spelman will continue serving as director, overseeing the daily operations of the National Zoo, and helping guide the facility and staff through the transition to new leadership.
"I will work hard, as I always have, to make sure our animals receive the best possible care, our staff has the best working conditions, our science is first rate, and our visitors continue to have an enriching experience when they visit, Spelman said.
Spelman, 41, became director in June 2000, after serving as the chief veterinarian in the Department of Animal Health. She joined the National Zoo staff in May 1995 as associate veterinary medial officer and was named senior veterinary medical officer in 1999.
Her resignation was announced following the release of a National Academy of Sciences report on the Zoo, which documented several problems and made recommendations for solutions in areas of daily animal care and preventive medicine.
In accepting her resignation, Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small said Spelman helped set the Zoo on the right course for the 21st century. He noted the greatest facilities revitalization in the Zoo's history is underway, more funds have been raised from public and private sources than ever before, and longstanding challenges are being aggressively addressed.
We sincerely thank her for her unquestioned dedication to the Zoo, which is once again demonstrated in her willingness to stay on until the end of the year while we search for a new director, Small said.The Smithsonian will convene a search committee, headed by Under Secretary for Science Dave Evans, to conduct a nationwide search for a new Zoo director.