Simonson Named New Zoo CEO

Assistant Fire Chief Taking Early Retirement to Assume New Role

DULUTH, Minn. – Assistant Chief Erik Simonson is taking early retirement from the Duluth Fire Department in order to lead the Lake Superior Zoo.

Simonson was introduced as the zoo’s new Chief Executive Officer Thursday morning. He takes over for Dave Benson, who’s been serving on an interim basis since former CEO Corey Leet resigned in May for family reasons after five months on the job.

“I thought whoever fills this role is going to have to be somebody from within our community, that understands our community, that knows the history, and believes in the mission of the zoo,” said Simonson. “Within five minutes of that I thought you really just described yourself.”

As part of his role as a state senator, Simonson worked to secure state funding for the zoo with the legislature. He says he’s looking forward to new challenges which come with his new role.

“It’s an important day, not just for me and my family, but for the zoo itself,” said Simonson. “As the zoo moves forward and you look at other zoos across the country and how they involve with the changing of the times, the Lake Superior Zoo is no different.”

The Lake Superior Zoo has struggled since the flash flood Of 2012. Simonson says he has a vision for the zoo and the people to make his vision a reality.

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