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Posted by Tara Henson on 04/16/2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                April 16, 2014


CONTACTS: Tara Henson: (405) 425-0219, cell (405) 919-9038 or [email protected]

                    Candice Rennels: (405) 425-0298, cell (405) 412-6172 or [email protected]




       The Oklahoma City Zoological Trust is proud to announce Dwight Lawson, PhD, as the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Executive Director/CEO.

       Lawson will assume his responsibilities on May 27, in the meantime he will be in contact with Zoo staff to assist with immediate needs including long-range planning and human resources. Alan Varsik, Deputy Director, who has served as Interim Executive Director since November 20, 2013, will assist in the transition process.

       Dr. Lawson comes to the Zoo from Zoo Atlanta where he has served as Zoo Director overseeing the animal and plant collections as well as the zoo’s education, research and conservation programs. Dr. Lawson began his Zoo Atlanta career as General Curator, continually assuming expanded leadership roles as Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation and Deputy Director prior to his promotion to Director.

       Before joining Zoo Atlanta in 2000, Dr. Lawson worked as an Associate Research Scientist for The Wildlife Conservation Society in Cameroon, Africa. He has also served as Biological Curator and Live Collections Manager for the herpetological collection at The University of Texas at Arlington Collection of Vertebrates.

       Dr. Lawson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology from UTA. He is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission and the AZA Chelonian Advisory Group Steering Committee and is a founding member of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).

       Dr. Lawson, his wife, Rebecca Snyder, PhD, and their daughter, Rory, currently reside in Atlanta.

       The search committee for the Executive Directorship consisted of Zoo Trustees, committee and Trust Chair Alice Pippin, Cindy Batt, Don Kaspereit, former Trust chair Dick Beshear also, Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry. Vicki Howard, Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) President and Keith Peters, OZS Treasurer, Dana McCrory, OZS Executive Director along with Zoo senior staff members Tara Henson and Tommy Bryant. The selection process began in December 2013.

       Former Zoo Executive Director Dwight Scott resigned mid-November 2013 to become Zoo Director of the San Diego Zoo.




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The Zoo is a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Museums (AAM) as both a living museum and a botanical garden. AZA accredited facilities are dedicated to providing excellent care for their plants and animals, a great experience for guests and a better future for all living things.

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