New Zoo Director at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

May 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Over the next two to three years we can expect to see some major changes at the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno.Monday is the first day on the job for the new executive director and he has big plans for nearly seven million dollars in zoo project funds.

A variety of exotic animals amaze visitors everyday at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Native Fresnan, Scott Barton, wants to continue that experience as the zoo's new executive director. For Barton, this day is sort of a homecoming.

"I was here when we built the elephant exhibit when we moved "Nosey" the only elephant at that time into the exhibit," said Barton.

That was in the early 80's when he first began working here. Since then, Barton has worked at six zoological parks over the past 30 years. Most recently he was an Administrator at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona.

Barton graduated from here at Fresno State and says he was able to get his foot in the door at the Chaffee Zoo as a volunteer.

"A position came open as a temporary keeper, I got that position and then it became permanent. I actually learned so much I was hired by Dr Paul Chaffee," said Barton.

At Fresno State, officials say Barton's example of getting started at the ground level and working your way up is a great way to begin a career in competitive fields.

Chris Fiorentino said, "The research is showing that when students get involved with service work, not only are they able to get jobs in their chosen career faster, but they are happier with their job."

Barton plans to develop new educational resources for teachers, students and interns at the zoo. His first day on the job is busy laying out a new master plan-- which includes expanding the zoo grounds from 18 acres to 39 acres.

"Building some incredible exhibits for some of the animals we have now and bringing back some favorites like lions," said Barton.

Barton says his first planned project is a new large scale animal area ... and a possible restaurant where guests can watch giraffe, zebra and other animals in the Africa Exhibit.

He is excited to get to work, helping Fresno become home to one of the country's leading zoos.

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