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Jay Tetzloff ends his time at Miller Park Zoo

Jay Tetzloff at podium
Facebook/Miller Park Zoo
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he move to Iowa will take Jay Tetzloff closer to his native Nebraska and to his aging parents.

After 13 years, Jay Tetzloff is bidding adieu to Miller Park Zoo.

The longtime superintendent, whose tenure officially ends Friday, called the moment “bittersweet.” But Tetzloff said he’s proud of what he’s been able to accomplish during his time with the zoo.

Under Tetzloff’s leadership, Miller Park Zoo doubled its number of animals. Tezloff also began the Snow Leopard program and the DeBrazza’s Monkey Exhibit. But some of his proudest accomplishments are comparatively less flashy — like the San Clemente Island Goat.

“They’re a critical rare breed,” Tetzloff said. And even though visitors to the zoo may have assumed they were seeing “just a goat,” the program was an important contribution to conservation efforts. “When I started work with the breed, there were 250 to 300 left in the world,” Tetzloff said. “And now that number is anywhere between 900 and 1,100.”

Tetzloff is leaving Miller Park Zoo for a job in Des Moines, Iowa. He’ll be the chief animal officer at Blank Park Zoo which will give him the opportunity to work with larger animals like giraffes and African Black Rhinos. Tetzloff said he’s missed working with big animals while in Bloomington. But he appreciates the kind of opportunities a small zoo provides the community.

“I remember distinctly when we had our Texas Longhorn steer here for a little while I heard a few times Wow, that's the biggest thing I've ever seen,” Tetzloff said. Hearing those kinds of comments underscored for Tetzloff the importance of showing a diverse range of animals. He realized that for many families, the Bloomington zoo was the only zoo they’d be able to visit.

“So that made me really think through what we do here at Miller Park Zoo,” Tetzloff said.

Tetzloff said he’ll miss Bloomington and has loved raising his family here. The move to Iowa will take Tetzloff closer to his native Nebraska and to his aging parents.

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Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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