Detroit Zoo names its first female director

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) has named Dr. Hayley W. Murphy director and chief executive officer.
The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) has named Dr. Hayley W. Murphy director and chief executive officer. (Detroit Zoological Society)

The Detroit Zoological Society has named a new director and CEO.

Dr. Hayley W. Murphey, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, is the first woman in the Zoo’s 93-year history to hold the position. She currently serves as the deputy director at Zoo Atlanta, but previously served as senior director of veterinary services and vice president of animal divisions before her promotion.

DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan is retiring after 28 years of service.

“Hayley is an incredibly successful and respected leader who is often praised for being a strong listener, investing in relationships and showing compassion in all that she does. Not only is she a superb zoo executive, her accomplishments as a scientist will allow the DZS to continue growing as a leading animal and environmental research institution,” said Board Chair Tony Earley.

Related: Detroit Zoo vaccinating at-risk animals for COVID-19

One of the country’s leading experts in gorilla cardiac health, Dr. Murphy is also Director of the Great Ape Heart Project, an innovative, international, multi-institutional effort – in which the Detroit Zoological Society is an active participant – aimed at investigating, diagnosing and treating heart disease in great apes. She also serves as the national veterinary advisor for the Gorilla Species Survival Plan and the Ape Taxonomic Advisory Group.

“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. “My family and I are looking forward to living in the Detroit area and becoming part of this progressive and diverse community.”

Murphy is expected to begin her role leading the Detroit Zoological Society Nov. 1.

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Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.