Toronto Zoo Home
Fighting Extinction Accessibility Host Your Event Press
the Zoo
Saving Wildlife
and Wild Spaces
Conservation Education
& Camps

Press Releases


Brings a wealth of experience in conservation, education, research and community engagement

August 17, 2018 Toronto – Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair of the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo is very pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Dolf DeJong, as the Zoo’s new Chief Executive Officer, effective September 6, 2018. 

Mr. DeJong joins the Zoo at a critical time as we implement our Strategic Plan and recently released multi-year Master Plan, which continues to position the Zoo as a Conservation Centre of Excellence.

Mr. DeJong comes to the Zoo from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (VAMSC) where he began his career as the Vice-President, Conservation and Education in June 2012 and was then appointed Vice President and General Manager of VAMSC in June 2016.  In this role he was responsible for the development and building of the new Marine Mammal Rescue Hospital and Stellar Sea Lion exhibit. He was also instrumental in a number of significant accomplishments including:

  • Establishing a powerful collaborative relationship with the external relations fundraising team securing additional funding for life support systems, frog conservation initiatives and equipment for the marine mammal rescue centre;
  • Driving public engagement and research in support of the transition of the Vancouver Aquarium to a new organization – the Ocean Wise Conservation Association;
  • Providing strategic direction responsible for the VAMSC facilities, admissions, interpretation, volunteer services, security, exhibit design, animal care, mechanical systems, water quality, sustainable seafood and arctic connections program;
  • Developing an organizational culture to foster an environment that encourages creativity, innovation and continuous learning and improvement.

“On behalf of the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo, we are delighted to welcome someone with such a depth of knowledge and experience who can continue to position the Zoo as a world-class centre of excellence in wildlife care and conservation as our new CEO. Mr. DeJong joins the Zoo at a critical time as we continue to implement our Strategic Plan and launch a new fundraising entity to support the recently released multi-year Master Plan,” said Councillor Ainslie.  “In addition, I also want to extend our gratitude to Mr. Robin Hale, who has been serving as Interim CEO, for his ongoing commitment, leadership and dedication over the past several months,” he added. 

"It is a real privilege to be joining the Toronto Zoo team. The organization has an incredible track record of connecting people to the natural world and wildlife conservation. I am excited to work with the board, staff, volunteers, local community and our partners to increase our public profile and our ability to protect wildlife in Ontario and beyond," said Mr. DeJong.

In addition to his employment at the VAMSC, Mr. DeJong has previously worked at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Hamilton as the Director of Biodiversity Programs, at Conservation Halton as the Park Area Manager, and with Ontario Parks, as an Assistant Park Superintendent at Bronte Creek, Presqu’ile and Ferris Provincial Parks. He has also worked as a Natural Heritage Education (NHE) Leader and Interpreter at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.  Mr. DeJong has a Masters of Environmental Studies from Wilfred Laurier University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Brock University.

In addition to his vast work experience, Mr. DeJong has extensive volunteer experience including roles as a director with a number of not-for-profit organizations including Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Canadian Association of Science Centres and VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Toronto Zoo Media Contacts:

Katie Gray, Supervisor of Public Relations and Events or #416-392-5941

- 30 -

About The Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo and a national leader in saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations. More than a tourist attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats – from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year.

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003