Overseeing the groundbreaking and construction of the Asia and Australia exhibits at the ABQ BioPark Zoo, and the upgrades to Heritage Farm will be the responsibility of new BioPark director Stephanie Stowell.
An associate director at the BioPark since July 2019, she succeeds director Baird Fleming, who resigned in June. Stowell has been interim director since then.
“It feels really exciting, but also incredibly humbling,” Stowell said Tuesday. “What I want to do is look holistically at the BioPark and take the ‘one BioPark’ approach versus looking at it facility by facility.”
The ABQ BioPark consists of the Zoo, Tingley Beach, the Aquarium and the Botanic Gardens. Heritage Farm and the aquatic conservation facility, also part of the BioPark, are located on the far north section of the Botanic Gardens.
Stowell said one of her goals is to better convey the message that the different components of the BioPark collectively “come together to make us the most visited attraction in the state, and for the community to understand that, at our foundation, what we really are is a conservation organization.”
Stowell is also leading the BioPark’s five-year re-accreditation process from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“As soon as people can travel, we will have an inspection team come and see we’re meeting the highest standards in animal care, animal welfare, conservation and guest engagement. So this is a huge priority for us,” she said.
Shelle Sanchez, director of the city’s Cultural Services Department, said, “I appreciate the experience, vision, positivity and work ethic she (Stowell) brings to the BioPark and the City of Albuquerque. Since she arrived at the BioPark in 2019, she has demonstrated dedication, professionalism and team work, along with genuine caring for BioPark staff, collections and visitors.”
Mayor Tim Keller called her a “proven leader,” and said Stowell will “grow the BioPark’s world-class community offerings and make this hometown gem more beloved than ever.”
Stowell, 53, holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in education, with a concentration in conservation education, from the University of Montana.
She came to the BioPark after serving as vice president for Learning and Engagement at the Denver Zoo. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Pueblo (Colorado) Zoo and vice president of education at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Stowell also served on the staff of the National Wildlife Federation, where she was senior director of Field Education Programs.