Major changes coming to Niabi Zoo staff

COAL VALLEY, Illinois-- Most just stopping by won't notice. But changes are coming to the zoo.

"We've had two employees leave us, and we've had resignations handed in for several others," says Niabi Zoo director Lee Jackson.

Five animal handlers out of 10 resigned and will be gone within the next few days. Jackson says some left for other opportunities and others walked off the job because of conflicts with management past and present.

Now he says rumors are flying that the zoo is in crisis.

"I would have chosen a different word than crisis, Niabi Zoo in transition," says Jackson.

Jackson has been in charge for less than four months, and he says he brings new ideas.

"Change is tough, and the Niabi Zoo is changing course. We're going to become a more professional institution, we are going to gain or accreditation and become the world class facility that the Quad Cities area deserves," says Jackson.

Starting at the end of the week, handlers from around the country will step in and help out until more are hired.

"It's not the typical kind of job. We are looking for people with academic experience and practical experience," says Jackson.

Meanwhile, families are still out enjoying the zoo paying more attention to their furry friends than the changes going onĀ  behind the scenes.