Keith Winsten, Executive Director, Brevard Zoo

In 2010, the Brevard Zoo realized that the business model that had sustained it since its inception in 1994 could no longer support its growth. Under Keith Winsten’s leadership, and with the support of its Board of Directors and staff, the Zoo shifted its resources to focus on marketing outside of Brevard County to create a tourist destination. In July 2012, the Zoo opened Treetop Trek (to target older kids and young adults thus expanding the Zoo’s base audience of families with young children). Since that time, the Brevard Zoo has had an operating surplus (after running in the red for two years) and its attendance skyrocketed to reach the 400,000 mark.

Recently, Trip Advisor ranked it No. 8 among zoos in the U.S. This year, it crossed the 200-employee threshold for the first time, won awards for exhibit design and conservation programs, and later this year it plans to open a sea turtle caring center as well. In 2014, the Zoo will celebrate its 20th birthday and is planning a six-month series of events to engage the whole community in the festivities – including one major new addition, a meerkat exhibit and a one-mile zoo trail.

“To quote Jim Collins, “It’s important to face the ugly truth.” And the truth was that our old model was broken and a new, well-grounded plan of action was needed,” said Winsten. And Brevard Zoo did just that!”