Texas Zoo executive director resigns, accepts job with city of Victoria
June 4, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.
Updated June 5, 2012 at 1:05 a.m.
After more than two years of working to turn the Texas Zoo around financially and significantly increase zoo visitors, Executive Director Andrea Blomberg announced Monday she is resigning.
Blomberg has served as executive director of the zoo since December 2009.
"This is the most challenging job I've ever had, but one of the most rewarding," said Blomberg, whose last day will be June 23. "I'm in awe of everything we've accomplished."
Melissa Rivera, president of South Texas Zoological Society, said they are sad to see her leave.
"While we are incredibly sad to see her leave our zoo, we are excited that she will be continuing to promote the city of Victoria, and local attractions and events," said Rivera. "She has helped our zoo make great strides and we wish her continued success in her endeavors."
"The board will be here making sure our mission is in place. Andrea's laid a great foundation for us to keep moving forward in all aspects," she continued.
Blomberg is staying in the Crossroads.
She recently accepted a position as the new assistant director of recreation with the city of Victoria's Parks and Recreation Department.
Blomberg described the new job as a "good career move" that provided an opportunity for growth.
She is scheduled to begin work with the city on June 25.
When Blomberg came on board at the zoo, she became the menagerie's fifth director in four years.
Though she lacked zoo experience, the Minnesota native's resume offered a business background and experience in working with city governments.
At the time of her arrival, a leading zoo accreditation group had denied renewal of the zoo's membership, citing financial problems, aged exhibits and turnover in directors and board members.
The zoo was forced to sell 76 acres of donated land to help pay delinquent loans, payroll taxes and vendor bills.
Blomberg used her skills to turn the zoo from drowning in debt to bringing in a positive cash flow about three times the amount that was coming in when she started.
The zoo's finances have turned around so much that they were presented with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Partner of the Month award in May.
Other zoo career highlights for Blomberg include increasing zoo attendance about 30 percent; constructing the traveling zoo exhibit; finishing a number of projects including the small primate exhibit and the aviary; and implementing and reviving special events, such as Gator Day and Dollar Days.
Additionally, she increased the zoo's animal collection from 150 animals to 190.
She said she has been able to accomplish most of the goals on her zoo bucket list, attributing the zoo's success over the past two years to a strong team and a positive relationship with the city and community partners.
"Thank you to everybody who did believe in me and helped make it happen," Blomberg said through tears, as she recalled some people questioning early on whether the zoo would even stay open.
The board of directors has not named a replacement for Blomberg.
Both Blomberg and Rivera agreed that whoever followed in Blomberg's footsteps should be someone who communicates well; has some knowledge of animals; is good in sales; and recognizes the need to run the nonprofit like a business.
"I've used everything I've ever learned in doing this job," said Blomberg. "You have to get people to buy into what you're selling and what you're selling is this wonderful zoo."