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Wonder Gardens hires long-time Wisconsin zoo director Neil Anderson as executive director

Neil Anderson, director since 1992 of the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park in Green Bay, Wisc., will be joining the Wonder Gardens as executive director starting in August.

“It is truly an honor to be selected to lead the Wonder Gardens and see what new opportunities we can create together,” Anderson said. “I am excited to work alongside this incredible team and to become part of the Bonita Springs community. I look forward to building upon the very rich history and recent successes of the Wonder Gardens.”

Anderson’s appointment follows the recent transition of David Rahahe:tih Webb, current president and CEO of the Wonder Gardens since September 2020. Webb moved to North Carolina in April to support his spouse’s career but has continued to manage the organization remotely and with regular visits while a new candidate was hired by the board. Webb will work through August, when he will transition to a board member to continue to help shape the future of Wonder Gardens.

“The board is so appreciative of all David has accomplished during his two years, and while we are sorry to see him go, we know the gardens are much better than when he arrived. He has taken us to the next level and leaves us in a great position,” said Donna Flammang, Wonder Gardens board chairperson. “Neil will be able to continue growth and improvements, including pursuing accreditation, which he did successfully in Wisconsin.”

Anderson is credited with developing the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park into a world-class facility, earning the center accreditation while keeping its “community treasure” feel.

Similarly, Webb is credited with improving the Wonder Gardens, including:

  • Restoring the 86-year-old attraction, improving guest experiences, opening seven new and restored exhibits and improving animal welfare;
  • Correcting a budget deficit, securing $1.9 million in revenue within six months including grants and partnerships, increasing liquid assets by 500% and doubling garden visitation;
  • Launching new education programs and partnerships, including two new Florida Gulf Coast University courses at the gardens;
  • Forming new partnerships with nonprofits, universities, schools, municipalities and corporate sponsors;
  • Launching the Association of Zoos & Aquariums accreditation.

“It has been my pleasure to work with the board and the team to ensure historical Wonder Gardens continues to be a valuable centerpiece for Bonita Springs,” Webb said. “We have worked to create a wonderful guest experience through our zoological and botanical treasures, while taking the utmost care of our rescued animals and educating our community on the unique environment where we live. I’m so proud of all we have accomplished!”

About Wonder Gardens

The Wonder Gardens, a charitable zoological park and botanical garden in Bonita Springs, is home to rescued and non-releasable birds and reptiles nestled among sprawling banyan trees and plantings. While preserving the best of this site’s 86-year history, the nonprofit cares for more than 300 resident animals, is upgrading wildlife enclosures and growing the botanical beauty of the property, while delivering education programs and events and further engaging the community to enjoy this jewel in historic Downtown Bonita Springs. The Wonder Gardens at 27180 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs is one of the few remaining cornerstones of Old Florida, an enduring symbol of the history of the region, as well as a resource for learning about the environment and wildlife. For information, visit wondergardens.org or call 239-992-2591.

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