COAL VALLEY – Late Friday afternoon, the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission dropped “interim” from Marc Heinzman’s title, naming him as new Niabi Zoo director.
Heinzman, a Milan native, had served as assistant zoo director since January, when he was named to the interim post following Mark Ryan’s dismissal.
“It really means a lot to me growing up in the Quad Cities,” Heinzman said in a press conference. “I’ve been coming to the Niabi Zoo all throughout grade school and coming up from there.”
Joe Clawson, the zoo director at the Louisiana Purchase and Gardens Zoo in Monroe, Louisiana, had been the other finalist for the place. Heinzman said he got word of the choice Thursday night.
“I initially was a little nervous when I was put in as the interim director of the zoo,” Heinzman said. “But I think it really helps having done this job, already. I feel like I really hit the ground running.”
Heinzman is going to Milwaukee this weekend to celebrate with his friends. Heinzman graduated from Rock Island High School and St. Ambrose University. He is only 27 years old.