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Max Lakes named new director of the Peoria Zoo

The entrance to the Peoria Zoo in Glen Oak Park, vacant after the initial early morning rush of schoolchildren and families to enter.
Collin Schopp
/
WCBU
The entrance to the Peoria Zoo in Glen Oak Park, vacant after the initial early morning rush of schoolchildren and families to enter.

Max Lakes will take over as the director of the Peoria Zoo, Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill announced Friday.

Yvonne Strode is retiring Friday. Since she started as director in 2005, Cahill said the zoo has more than doubled it's size, staff and attendance. She oversaw the addition of the Africa! exhibit in 2009, bringing giraffes, rhinoceroses and mandrills to the zoo.

"Yvonne's unwavering commitment to animal welfare has been a cornerstone of her leadership at Peoria Zoo,” Cahill said. “Her passionate gift of her time and talents have impacted our Zoo and our community in ways that will benefit future generations."

Max Lakes was named the new director of the Peoria Zoo.
Courtesy of the Peoria Park District
Max Lakes was named the new director of the Peoria Zoo.

Lakes was previously the director of the Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana and has worked at zoos in Kansas and Ohio.

"Peoria offers the chance to work with an amazing group of zoo and park professionals to provide excellent care for our animals while fostering connections between the community and those animals," Lakes said in the statement. "Being from the Midwest, Peoria feels like coming home and I’m excited to call Peoria my new hometown.”

Lakes' first day was May 27.

Camryn Cutinello is a reporter and digital content director at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@illinoisstate.edu.