Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed a new Director, Steve Hinks.
Mr Hinks officially joined the team on 9 October 2017, and brings 17 years of experience in the tourism industry, gained at some of Sydney’s best known attractions.
Mr Hinks spent 13 years with BridgeClimb Sydney as Head of Operations from 2000-2013, and from 2013 to July 2017 he worked with Merlin Entertainments, including his most recent role, Regional General Manager Sydney Attractions. Merlin Entertainments operates three of Sydney's leading attractions in Darling Harbour.
The appointment follows former Director, Matthew Fuller’s departure in July after 12 years of service to the organisation. Acting Director, Nick Boyle, assumed the position for four months prior to Mr Hinks’ official appointment.
“I’m very excited to join the Taronga Western Plains Zoo team and be a part of the amazing work happening at this world-class facility,” Mr Hinks said.
“I am passionate about guest experience, financial management and health and safety, and I hope to bring a valuable skill set to the organisation in each of these areas.
“Taronga Western Plains Zoo is an iconic Zoo that plays a pivotal role in regional tourism. Likewise, it plays a major role in national and international animal conservation and breeding programs.
“I feel the Zoo provides a hugely compelling reason for out-of-towners to visit Dubbo. It also offers guests a number of unique accommodation options that cannot be experienced anywhere else in Australia.
“I’m proud to be commencing involvement in the many critical conservation and breeding programs here, including the successful behind-the-scenes Tasmanian Devil breeding program, Black Rhinoceros breeding program and a new development here, the 110-hectare Bilby Sanctuary,” Mr Hinks said.
Mr Hinks is looking forward to the opening of African Lion Pride Lands in March 2018; a $9 million development and the largest investment in an animal exhibit in the Zoo’s history.
“African Lion Pride Lands will feature a large 3.5-hectare open expanse where a pride of 10-15 lions will roam, and will provide an unrivalled visitor experience. I’m looking forward to building on the fantastic visitor experience already on offer here, which is enjoyed by more than 250,000 visitors each year,” Mr Hinks said.
Mr Hinks said Dubbo’s offering of a family-friendly lifestyle and a strong sense of community was another major drawcard to prompt his move. In 2013, he graduated from Charles Sturt University’s Dubbo campus with a Masters degree in Business Management.
“My wife, Rebecca, and I had been considering a move out of Sydney for some time. Dubbo provides the ideal lifestyle to raise our two children,” Mr Hinks said.
“Olivia (seven) and Jamie (five) are very excited about the move and getting to know new friends at school here. Rebecca is an authorised civil celebrant and is eager to work on weddings in the local area.
“I would like to acknowledge how fortunate I feel to inherit such a strong legacy as a result of the fantastic work the team has done over the past 40 years.
“It’s pleasing to see Taronga Western Plains Zoo receive so much support from the local community, and I plan to continue to contribute to the overall success of the wider Dubbo region,” Mr Hinks said.