Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Mourns The Loss Of Executive Director Jeff Swanagan

Mon, 6/29/2009 - 8:31 AM

By Rudy Socha 

Powell, OH - Jeff Swanagan, the Executive Director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, passed away on the evening of Sunday, June 28 of an apparent heart attack. Jeff returned to Ohio a year ago to lead the Zoo’s operation which includes Zoombezi Bay and Safari Golf Club.

Jeff began his zoo career at the Columbus Zoo in 1980. He worked as a keeper and educator before leaving in 1987 to become the Deputy Zoo Director at Zoo Atlanta. In 1998 Jeff became CEO of the Florida Aquarium leaving that job in 2002 to lead the efforts to build and open the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

The Executive Committee of the Zoo’s Board of Directors is meeting Monday morning to determine the initial course of action for the Zoo. The media will be updated Monday afternoon when more details become available.

Jeff was a visionary, educator and wildlife advocate whose mantra was “touch the heart to teach the mind.” The zoo community mourns the loss of their friend, colleague and leader and sends our condolences to his family.

Jeff was well known in the industry as someone with a strong personality who could get the job done.  That determination and focus was tempered by a sense of humor and and open door policy that provided direct access to everyone.  In February, 2009, Zoo and Aquarium Visitor profiled Jeff in our Meet the Zoo Director feature,_Columbus_Zoo_and_Aquarium.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open every day of the year 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. after Labor Day. General admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit

To view Columbus Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:


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