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County Executive's Office

Dane County Hires New Deputy Director for Henry Vilas Zoo

September 03, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive, 267-8823 or 669-5606.
County Executive

Experienced Zoo Manager Joins Team at Dane County’s Free Zoo


Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today a new Deputy Director has been hired at the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo.

 Ronda Schwetz, who has served as Primate Supervisor at the Denver Zoo for the past five years and before that was a Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, returns to Madison to work at the zoo where she first worked as an intern nearly 20 years ago.

 “From record-setting attendance, to projects like our new Children’s Zoo Barn now under construction, there are always new and exciting things happening at our free zoo. Ronda’s many years of zoo experience will help make Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo even bigger and better,” Falk said.  “Ronda joins a team led by Zoo Director Jim Hubing that takes great pride in making sure our zoo has the best free, family fun in our area.” 

 "I am thrilled and honored to be returning home to the zoo I grew up with,” Schwetz said.  “I visited Henry Vilas Zoo as a child and it is where I was inspired to work in a zoo to help animals. I am excited to work with zoo staff, the society and all the zoos many supporters to continue providing outstanding animal care, education and conservation efforts."

 "’The Friends of the Zoo’ are absolutely delighted with the choice of Ronda Schwetz as Deputy Zoo Director and we’re thrilled to have her back to Wisconsin,” said Mary Romolino, President of “Friends of the Zoo.”  “She comes with first hand knowledge of Henry Vilas Zoo and experience working closely with zoo volunteers and Friends organizations that will help ensure our Zoo continues to be the finest free zoo in the world."

 Schwetz is a native of McFarland and earned double Bachelor of Science Degrees at UW-Stevens Point before beginning her zoo career at the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls in 1992.

 While at the Denver Zoo, Schwetz managed an area with over 130 animals spanning 30 different species.  She has done extensive work with different types of monkeys, gorillas, and orangutans and started a conservation partnership with Indonesian Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers to help protect Orangutans in several parts of that country.

 Schwetz worked as the Zoological Manager at Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and was the Head Zoo Keeper at the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls from 1992-1998.

 Schwetz’s first day as Deputy Zoo Director at the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo is October 11th, 2010.  Her starting salary is $75,000.