Dwight Lawson hasn’t officially moved to Oklahoma City yet, but he’s already on the job as executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Lawson started May 27. His family, a wife and young daughter, still are in Atlanta. They expect to move to Oklahoma City later this month.
Lawson comes to Oklahoma City via Zoo Atlanta where he served as director overseeing the animal and plant collections as well as that zoo’s education and conservation programs.
Lawson holds a Ph.D in quantitative biology from the University of Texas — Arlington. His wife Rebecca, works with Zoo Atlanta’s collection of giant pandas.
In his limited time in Oklahoma City he’s been impressed.
“It’s lived up to what I thought having interviewed and talked to folks out here about,” he said. “It’s a great zoo. There are tons of opportunities to get better and do new things. It’s a really unique situation with the level of support from the public and also the involvement in the community. It’s not the norm. There are a lot of good zoos out there but the level of involvement and that spirit in Oklahoma City is unique.”
Lawson is especially impressed with the zoo’s attendance numbers, expected to reach 1 million this fiscal year.
“Those numbers are phenomenal for a market this size,” he said. “It speaks to how much people like the zoo but also that it is accessible and affordable to families.”