America’s first zoo announces new president and chief executive officer


The Philadelphia Zoo named Dr Jo-Elle Mogerman as the first woman president and CEO in its history

The Philadelphia Zoo announced this week that Jo-Elle Mogerman, PhD, will serve as its new president and chief executive officer. Mogerman will be the Philadelphia Zoo’s 15th president and CEO, but the first female in the history of the Zoo.

“As we launched our national search at the beginning of the year, we embarked on a journey to find the very best person to lead our forward-thinking organization. Dr Mogerman’s impressive career and accomplishments speak for themselves, but it was her clear commitment to community, animal welfare, staff development, and operational excellence that made her the right fit for our renowned Zoo,” said Joanna McNeil Lewis, chair of Philadelphia Zoo Board of Directors, in an organizational release.1

Jo-Elle Mogermna, PhD (Image courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo)

Jo-Elle Mogermna, PhD (Image courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo)

Before coming to Philadelphia, Mogerman served as the director of the Saint Lous Zoo Wildcare Park in Missouri since 2019. Before that, she served as the Vice President of Learning and Community at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and had multiple leadership roles at the Brookfield Zoo for nearly 14 years.1

“I am honored to be selected as the next President & CEO of Philadelphia Zoo. I look forward to leading Philadelphia’s exceptional team to advance the Zoo’s mission and further its impact on the region while also contributing to conservation in ways that are meaningful locally, regionally and nationally,” expressed Mogerman. “There’s a lot of amazing work underway at Philadelphia Zoo and together with the community and the Zoo team, I am certain we will catapult the nation’s first zoo into a model for zoos of the future.”1

Known as America’s first Zoo,2 the Philadelphia Zoo has been open since July 1, 1874, after being delayed 15 years from its original opening date, March 21, 1859, because of the Civil War. The Philadelphia Zoo is also known for its advancements such as the first successful chimpanzee and orangutan births in the United States, developing the first specially-formulated food for animals in a zoo, and opening the United States' first Children’s Zoo.2

“Philadelphia Zoo is an important and relevant organization in wildlife conservation around the world. I am excited to support Jo-Elle as she takes the helm – she will undoubtedly foster a bright future for our Zoo,” concluded Vikram Dewan, the Philadelphia Zoo’s current president and chief executive officer.

Morgerman succeeds Vikram Dewan, who has over 16 years tenured leading the Zoo. Mogerman will remain in her current role until her duties in Philadelphia begin on October 30, 2023.


  1. Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo and a beloved destination for people around the world, announced today that Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman will assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer beginning October 30, 2023. News release. Philadelphia Zoo. August 15, 2023. Accessed August 16, 2023.
  2. America’s first zoo. Philadelphia Zoo. Published October 26, 2019. Accessed August 16, 2023.
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