Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO
In April 2002, Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Zoo. In 2009 his position was endowed with a $3 million gift from the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, making this the first-ever endowed zoo presidency.
From 1993 to 2002, he served as President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens. From 1983 to 1993 he worked for the Saint Louis Science Center as Vice President for Research and Special Projects, supervising long-range planning and science programming. He began his career as a professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. Bonner received his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Missouri - Columbia in 1975. He received his M.A. and M.Phil. Degrees in anthropology from Columbia University in New York in 1977 and 1979, along with his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982. He is a Burgess Fellow, Traveling Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, President's Fellow and a recipient of the National Research Service Award. As a cultural anthropologist, he specializes in cultural ecology - the interaction of plants, animals, and people. During 1979 and 1980 he lived in northern India while doing ecological fieldwork on changing land use patterns. He subsequently wrote a book based on his doctoral thesis.
When he became president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo in 2002, Dr. Bonner was impressed by the breadth of conservation programs that the Zoo already supported and made it a priority to bring even more focus and attention to these efforts.
Under his leadership the Zoo created the WildCare Institute, with a lead gift of $19 million. The WildCare Institute currently has 12 major Conservation Centers supporting research and conservation activities for critically endangered species and habitats across the globe. From the hellbender salamanders of the Missouri Ozarks to Armenian mountain vipers, the Saint Louis Zoo has strengthened and extended its reach "beyond the fence."
In addition to creating the WildCare Institute in 2004, he created the Zoo's endowment, which has now grown to over $35 million. In 2011 he founded the Zoo's Institute for Conservation Medicine - Healthy Animals, Healthy People. This institute is dedicated to exploring zoonotic diseases, with an emphasis on emergent diseases that move between wild populations, domestic animals, and people.
Dr. Bonner is the Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He recently chaired the Amphibian Ark, a worldwide effort of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the IUCN, designed to halt the wave of extinctions confronting our world's amphibians.
He has served on numerous boards, including the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of the IUCN. He is the former chair of the International Species Information System, where he generated funding for the new international Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). From 2003 to 2006 he chaired the Madagascar Fauna Group, where he led an international consortium of 39 zoos and related institutions. He was a founding member of The National Elephant Center in 2007.
Dr. Bonner is the author of numerous articles and papers and recently wrote a popular book entitled Sailing with Noah. This book explores the connections between animals and people both in zoos and in wild places around the world, emphasizing the emerging role of zoos in conservation.