Dr. Terry L. Maple

Chair, World Safaris Council of Conservation and Science Advisors

Dr. Terry L. Maple

Dr. Terry L. Maple is best known for his visionary leadership in revitalizing the Atlanta Zoo in the aftermath of one of the most publicized scandals in the history of American zoos. Dr. Maple’s eighteen years of reform leadership re-branded Zoo Atlanta as a non-profit corporation and restored its credibility. Zoo Atlanta’s privatization started a trend in the zoo industry. Former Mayor Andrew Young hailed Zoo Atlanta as the most successful privatization in Georgia history.

During Dr. Maple’s tenure as CEO, Zoo Atlanta became recognized as one of the world’s most innovative zoological parks. In 1987 and again in 2000, the zoo was honored by the Metropolitan Communities Foundation as Atlanta’s “best-managed nonprofit corporation”.  Honoring the quality of its design and reconstruction, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) presented five awards to Zoo Atlanta for excellence in exhibit design. Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with local television resulted in six Emmy Awards for local programming, and in 1991, the Georgia Wildlife Federation honored Zoo Atlanta as “Conservation Organization of the Year.”

Based largely on the programs established by Dr. Maple from 1984-2002, Zoo Atlanta was recently honored with AZA’s prestigious Edward H. Bean Award, for its fifty years of lowland gorilla conservation, exhibition, husbandry, propagation and research. Once denigrated as one of America’s worst zoos, Zoo Atlanta is now recognized as one of the world’s best.

In 2003, Dr. Maple retired as President and Chief Executive Officer, returning to Georgia Tech to found the Center for Conservation & Behavior. He served on the faculty for thirty years, retiring in 2008 as Elizabeth Smithgall Watts Professor of Conservation & Behavior Emeritus.

During his parallel academic career in Atlanta, Dr. Maple mentored and trained twenty-seven doctoral students at Emory University and Georgia Tech. Three of his students were awarded prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowships, the only NSF graduate student awards in the fifty year history of Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology. His brilliant student collaborators have consistently won top jobs at universities, zoological parks, and primate centers throughout the nation and abroad.

As a research group, Dr. Maple, his students, and his collaborators published more than 200  journal articles, chapters and books on the behavior, conservation, and welfare of African antelopes, baboons, capuchins, chimpanzees, elephants, flamingos, giant pandas, gorillas, giraffe, lemurs, lions, macaques, mandrills, orangutans, spider monkeys, tigers, and zoo visitors. The acclaimed “Ethics on the Ark” (Co-edited by Dr. Maple) was published by Smithsonian in 1995.

A native Californian, born in East Los Angeles and raised in San Diego County, Dr. Maple received his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific.  As co-captain of the varsity baseball team he led the 1968 team to the best won-loss record in school history and into the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. He received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Psychobiology from the University of California at Davis.  From 1971-1972, he studied political theory and sociology at the University of Stockholm as a Rotary Foundation International Graduate Fellow. After a year of post-doctoral research at the California Primate Research Center, he was recruited to Atlanta in 1975 to serve on the faculty of Emory University. In 1978 he joined the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology and rapidly advanced to the rank of Professor.

An elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychological Science, and a former President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Dr. Maple was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1998 by the Atlanta Chapter of Stanford Business School Alumni. He received the 1999 “President’s Award” from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for his contributions to tourism in Georgia. He was elected to Fellow status in the Georgia Academy of Sciences in 2005. On May 17, 2008 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater in Stockton, California.

Dr. Maple is the Founding Editor of the journal Zoo Biology published by John Wiley/Blackwell in association with AZA, and a founding member of the American Society of Primatologists. In 2006, he co-edited a special issue of Zoo Biology “Empirical Zoo” with Dr. Donald G. Lindburg, a comprehensive review of the scientific foundation of zoo management.

An internationally recognized expert on the behavior, welfare, and conservation of great apes, Dr. Maple’s ideas provided the ethological programming for Zoo Atlanta’s innovative lowland gorilla exhibit, acknowledged as one of the most important gorilla facilities in the world. Sponsored by Ford Motor Company and branded as the Ford African Rain Forest, it is the first exhibit designed for a population of gorillas distributed in four contiguous groups.

As President of the AZA (1998-1999), Dr. Maple established the association’s first diversity initiative, worked to differentiate AZA institutions from roadside attractions, and strengthened the association’s scientific network. His diplomacy on giant panda conservation resulted in a new partnership with China’s Ministry of Construction, the governmental agency responsible for China’s zoological gardens, and Zoo Atlanta’s successful exhibition of giant pandas after ten years of complex negotiations. Zoo Atlanta was the second zoo in the nation (after San Diego) to acquire giant pandas under the new, stringent regulations of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Dr. Maple also served as the mediator who invited prominent American biologists, including Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson, to provide Congress with a timely and effective defense of the Endangered Species Act in 1995. His frequent personal testimony in Congress and his working relationship with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich contributed to the successful continuation of the ESA.

For a decade, Dr. Maple served as Vice-Chair of AZA’s Field Conservation Committee. He has visited Africa twenty-five times, and traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and South America. He has been an advisor and consultant to the World Wildlife Fund, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Society, the Walt Disney Company, the National Institutes of Health, and Chairman of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

He has served on dozens of governmental and non-governmental committees including a four year Presidential appointment to the board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). As an experienced and successful fund-raising executive, he consults regularly with aspiring executives in the nonprofit world. He is well-known as an expert in crisis and conflict management.

In 2005, Dr. Maple was granted a formal leave-of-absence from Georgia Tech to become President/CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo. He quickly established a working partnership in conservation, education, and science with Florida Atlantic University students and faculty.

On Earth day 2009, the Palm Beach Zoo opened the innovative Melvin J. and Claire Levine Animal Care Complex, including a state-of-the-art animal hospital and the innovative Center for Conservation Medicine. Equipped with solar power provided by a grant from the Florida Power & Light Foundation, the U.S. Green Building Council certified the building LEED Gold, the first LEED-certified zoo veterinary hospital in the nation. Confirming the zoo’s growing leadership role in sustainability, the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin County named the Palm Beach Zoo as its “Sustainability Leader” among 59 competing non-profits in the region.

In 2009, despite a slowing economy, Dr. Maple and his team raised more than $1 million for conservation. One year later, Melvin J. and Claire Levine donated another $1 million to endow the Animal Care Complex and its programs.

In 2011, after six years of service locally, and twenty-four years as a non-profit executive, Dr. Maple retired from his position as President/CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and returned to academic life. As a professor at the Harriett Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University, and the departments of psychology and integrative biology at the FAU campus in Boca Raton, Dr. Maple is continuing his role as a teacher and mentor of both undergraduate and graduate students. Among his active consulting engagements nationwide, Dr. Maple is currently working with the San Francisco Zoo as their “Professor-in-Residence” and the architect of the zoo’s new wellness initiative.

The father of three daughters, Dr. Maple and his wife Addie reside in Jupiter, Florida.