Ralph Piland departs as Salisbury Zoo’s Director

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, left, and Salisbury Zoo Director Ralph Piland talk in 2016. Salisbury officials have begun a public search for a new Zoo Director, following Piland’s recent resignation.

Salisbury officials have begun a public search for a new Zoo Director, following the recent resignation of Ralph Piland who had been at the helm since 2013.

“It’s a high-profile position so we want public input,” said Mayor Jake Day.

The Zoo Director is a mayor-appointed position, but the search will likely involve input from the city’s Zoo Commission, which oversees operation, management and promotion of the facility, he said.

The Delmarva Zoological Society, which raises money for the zoo, and Friends of the Salisbury Zoo, which promotes membership and volunteers, also will play a role in the selection process, Day said.

Piland, who was hired by former Mayor Jim Ireton, oversaw the development of a zoo master plan that was approved in 2016.

The plan included an expanded Discover Australia exhibit with a new aviary featuring various bird species from Down Under, including black swans, kookaburras and cockatoos.

In 2018, the zoo saw the birth of a wallaby at the Discover Australia exhibit.

The zoo also replaced the visitor center and built a new animal health center

The zoo’s Andean bears have been one of the most popular exhibits since the first bears arrived in the late 1970s.

In 2017, the zoo imported a male bear named Pinocchio from Ecuador to the bear exhibit at the Salisbury Zoo with female bear Chaska.

Recently, one of Chaska’s offspring born at the Salisbury Zoo, gave birth to a cub on Jan. 8 at the San Diego Zoo in California.

Alba was given to the San Diego Zoo in 2016. She was born at the Salisbury Zoo four years ago to Chaska and Gritto who has since died.

Located in the Salisbury City Park, the zoo has existed since the 1950s and at one time had an elephant named Ollie that was donated by the Oliphant car dealership.

The zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Admission and parking are free.

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