Nancy Kluge

President & CEO
Reid Park Zoological Society

By Tiffany Kjos

More than 600,000 people will visit Reid Park Zoo this year – a milestone for one of the region’s largest attractions. It’s programs, from Zoo Lights to summer camps to conservationist talks, regularly sell out. 

That popularity is due in large part to Nancy Kluge, president and CEO of Reid Park Zoological Society. 

“She leads with passion for the zoo employees and passion for our animal collection as well as our community,” said Mica Blane, zoo foundation board chair.

Among the biggest missions Kluge has led in her 15-year tenure is expanding the elephant exhibit. “Reid Park Zoological Society has one of the leading elephant habitats in North America, and this is evidenced by the birth of a young elephant this spring,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, noting the Mar. 8 birth of Meru.

Kluge helped develop and is implementing the zoo’s 10-year master plan, including a new sloth exhibit and Angel Charity for Children World of Play. She is directing construction of Pathway to Asia.

“It’s going to bring tigers back to Reid Park Zoo, which is exciting, so there will be a tiger conservation breeding center,” she said. “We’ve had Malayan tigers, which are so highly endangered, here before, so anything we can do for that population is critically important.”

Pathway to Asia will feature Komodo dragons, red pandas, and a rare aviary where visitors can feed exotic birds. “You won’t be the best you can be if you’re not constantly changing and staying up to date with whatever the latest is,” Kluge said.

The zoo supports the Tanzania Conservation and Research Program, which has preserved more than one million acres of African elephant habitat. It promotes species survival and research in elephant care. “The more we can do to connect people with conservation, with protecting wild animals and wild places, the better,” she said. 

Kluge credits the zoo’s success to its 140 employees, 300+ volunteers, and funding from donations, sponsorships and more.

A Tucson native, Kluge is the past chair of Visit Tucson’s board. She is part of the Planned Giving Round Table of Southern Arizona, the Southern Arizona Cultural Leaders Consortium, Women Leaders of Southern Arizona and Charter 100. She is a deacon for Christ Presbyterian Church and serves on the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona audit and ethics committee. 

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