Detroit Zoo hires first female director

The Detroit Zoo has named its newest director to take over the position after its longtime leader announced his retirement after decades in the position. 

Dr. Haley Murphy, the current deputy director at Zoo Atlanta, will be the Detroit Zoological Society's first female director at the zoo's 93-year-old history. 

A release from the DZS said Murphy had more than 30 years of zoo experience, is one of the country's leading experts in gorilla cardiac health, and has a strong background in zoological veterinary medicine.

"I am thrilled to join the Detroit Zoological Society and to work with such a dedicated board of directors, Zoo staff and the Greater Detroit community to continue the history of excellence and innovation for which the Detroit Zoo is known. Animal welfare, education, research and community engagement are critical to the future of our planet, and I am excited to lead an organization so clearly aligned with this mission," said Murphy.

Murphy will begin her position Nov. 1.

Her selection followed months of looking by the DZS Board and a recruiting firm that specializes in mission-driven clients. 

"Not only is she a superb zoo executive, but her accomplishments as a scientist will also allow the DZS to continue growing as a leading animal and environmental research institution," said DZS Board Chair Tony Earley.

Dr. Haley Murphy

Murphy assumed her role in Atlanta after a series of promotions to increasingly responsible management positions. She has 30 years of experience with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She also serves on the group's Ethics Board and professional development committee.

Prior to her promotion to deputy director, Murphy was the senior director of veterinary services and the vice president of animal divisions. 

Part of her work on gorillas comes from the Great Ape Heart Project, where she is the director.

Murphy replaces Ron Kagan, who filled the role for 28 years.