As President and CEO, Tom Stalf leads the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, The Wilds, Zoombezi Bay and Safari Golf Club with a single focus – inspire people to make a difference for wildlife and wild places. Annually, over 3 million people visit the Columbus Zoo and its other entities making it one of the most successful zoological institutions in the country. As an employer, Tom manages the $105 million budget and 2,500 employees. Tom is very proud of the $321 million annual economic impact of the organization in Central Ohio.
Tom has more than 30 years of experience in the zoo world. He began his career as a Zookeeper in 1991, and by 1995 was the Director of his hometown zoo near Moline, Illinois – Niabi Zoo. Tom has worked with Jack Hanna since the mid 90’s assisting Jack with theater and television appearances. He joined the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2010 as the Senior Vice President of Operations. Months later, he was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of the Columbus Zoo and the Director of The Wilds. The Zoo Board appointed Tom as President and CEO in August of 2012. Under his leadership, the Zoo opened its largest region to date, the award winning Heart of Africa, and the Zoo, Zoombezi Bay and The Wilds have all achieved record breaking attendance and revenue numbers.
A tireless champion for wildlife, Tom uses his gift of storytelling and love of education to help inspire people to join the Zoo’s mission of protecting animals globally and locally. Tom places a high priority on animal welfare and conservation and is very proud of the Zoo’s commitment to over 100 conservation projects in 42 countries. Tom has personally toured many of these projects – he understands the challenges of conservation and uses this information to inspire others to get involved. He serves as the Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wildlife Conservation Committee and is a Board member of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the International Elephant Foundation. Tom is also a guest lecturer for many organizations, including The Ohio State University’s Zoo Science and Management course.