Since he became executive director of Roger Williams Park Zoo last July, Jeremy Goodman has been focusing on making exhibits more interactive to fulfill what he sees as an important mission – to establish a bond between people and animals. That bond is intended to stretch far beyond an enjoyable day at the zoo into being concerned about the environment and having an impact on global issues such as climate change.
Spring will be the time to unveil new and improved exhibits, from a butterfly walk to the zoo’s stroll through a slice of Australia, giving visitors a chance to come almost face-to-face with a wallaby or kangaroo.
PBN: When did you first think about being a zoo director?
GOODMAN: I knew what I wanted to do since I was 2 or 3 years old. My dream was always to run a zoo. I dragged my parents to every zoo since I was about 4 years old.
PBN: Since you wanted to run a zoo, did you have cats and dogs when you were growing up?
GOODMAN: I never had a dog or a cat, but I had almost everything else – turtles, lizards, birds, hamsters and rabbits. We had a little, 8-foot, round swimming pool in the backyard we didn’t use much for swimming. I filled it up with everything – we had turtles and frogs and fish in our swimming pool.
PBN: Being a veterinarian is a pretty common goal for kids who like animals, but most of them find another path by the time they grow up. How did you stick with it?
GOODMAN: I didn’t start out wanting to be a veterinarian. I actually always wanted to be a zoo director. My parents said, “Why don’t you go to veterinary school, so if the zoo thing doesn’t work out, you’ll have a good career to fall back on.”