Saturday, February 4, 2023 Feb 4, 2023
36° F Dallas, TX

You Need to Know…Michael Meadows

By Trey Garrison |
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Michael Meadows

COMPANY: Dallas Zoological Society 
TITLE: President and CEO
STATS: $4.5 million raised in 2005, 19 employees, founded in 1955
Michael Meadows rides herd on 20,000 members and donors who support the Southwest’s oldest—and Texas’ largest—zoo. The latest challenge he bears is to rebrand a family attraction that’s suffered more for image than reality: market research shows those with the best impression of the Dallas Zoo are recent visitors; those with the worst impression are people who haven’t been in years. Raising money for the big-ticket items such as new exhibits, animals, rides, marketing, and advertising is comparably easy. But it’s his “ambiance initiative” that’s making a real difference in the zoo-going experience for the half million people a year who pass through the entrance. Meadows has learned a single bad experience at the micro-level can ruin all the larger measures his group takes. He and society staff tour the zoo with the mind of a four-star hotel manager. “You can have the best restaurant in the city with the finest chef,” he says, “but if the guest goes into the bathroom and it’s a mess, they won’t come back.”