Mayor Winnecke Appoints Erik Beck Executive Director of Mesker Park Zoo

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is pleased to announce the appointment of Erik Beck as the new Executive Director of Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Citing his vast experience as a zookeeper and animal curator, and his strong leadership as director of operations and interim zoo director at Mesker, Mayor Winnecke said Beck is well qualified for the position and will lead the zoo through a seamless transition.

“I am very pleased with the leadership that Erik has displayed during the interim period following the departure of former zoo director Amos Morris,” Mayor Winnecke said. “Erik shares our collective vision of making the zoo a more vibrant destination for families. I am confident he can work in a collaborative fashion with the Evansville Zoological Society, our partner in the zoo operation.”

Beck will not only lead Mesker Zoo, he will serve as the next Executive Director of the Evansville Zoological Society (EZS). The non-profit organization supports the Zoo and Botanic Garden and is primarily focused on fundraising, education and conservation.

“With Erik’s 22-years of experience at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden he certainly understands the organization and can put his skills and experience to good use in the director’s position,” said Evansville Zoological Society President Steve Bugg. “The EZS looks forward to continuing to work with Erik in his new role and will support him and the zoo as we have for many years. I personally have enjoyed getting to know Erik and partnering with him during the transition period, and I am confident in the direction the city is taking with the leadership of the zoo.”

Beck began his career at Mesker in 1995 as a zookeeper before transitioning to an animal curator responsible for all aspects of animal husbandry and care and the supervision of 18 zookeepers. In his role as general curator he served as project lead for the $13 million Amazonia Rainforest, the largest capital project in the zoo’s history. In 2008, Beck was named interim zoo director while overseeing the grand opening of Amazonia and the new zoo entry complex and gift shop. Beck had been director of operations at Mesker for the past seven years responsible for preparing and overseeing a $4.8 million annual operating budget and day-to-day operations at the zoo, including visitor services, maintenance and the horticultural departments. Most recently, he was project manager and was involved in fundraising for the new Engelbrecht Carousel.

“Growing up in Evansville, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden was the zoo I visited as a child and am excited for the opportunity to be a part of its future as the Executive Director,” Beck said. “Mesker Park Zoo is staffed with talented, passionate, hardworking people, and I look forward to working with them and sharing their stories of success with the community. The opening of the Engelbrecht carousel and the community involvement to make that attraction a reality was phenomenal and those partnerships are invaluable to the future success of the zoo.”

Beck is a 1989 graduate of Reitz Memorial High School and a 1994 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. From 1990-1992, he completed undergraduate coursework in biology at Loyola University of Chicago. Beck and his wife of 20-years, Elizabeth, share their home with two Welsh Springer Spaniels and a cat.