At the OKC Zoo, Go Wild!

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Candice Rennels | (405) 425-0298 |

OKC Zoo News Releases


The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is pleased to announce the addition of two new leadership team members: Kevin Drees, director of animal collections; and Tammy Burnett, director of human resources.

As director of animal collections, Kevin Drees manages all components of the Zoo’s animal collection to support day-to-day operations. This includes budget preparation and oversight, maintaining a progressive program of animal care, welfare and staff training.

Prior to joining the OKC Zoo in August, Drees spent 31 years at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, advancing from area supervisor to director of animal care, facilities and conservation. During his tenure, he developed Blank Park Zoo’s conservation philosophy strategy and plan, launched conservation partnerships and oversaw a 65 percent increase in attendance. Drees received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in animal ecology from Iowa State University and a Certificate in Business Management from Drake University. He serves on six Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) committees and is an AZA accreditation inspector, helping ensure zoos and aquariums across North America follow modern animal care standards.

“This position is critical to ensuring the Oklahoma City Zoo remains a leader in conservation, education and animal care,” Barry Downer, deputy director, said. “Based on his laudable achievements both at the Blank Park Zoo and during his short time at the OKC Zoo, I can imagine no one better suited to lead the Zoo forward than Kevin.”

Growing up on a farm surrounded by animals, Kevin’s passion for wildlife was apparent from a young age and he was determined to make it his life’s work. Kevin’s wife, Tracey Dolphin-Drees, and sons Kadin, 9, and Kolton, 7, also have that passion and share their lives with a variety of animals, including two dogs and three cats. Kevin believes that the essential core of a zoo is its animal collection and is committed to ensuring that the animals at the OKC Zoo experience the best professional care. His long-term goals include providing dynamic opportunities for guests to engage with wildlife, to understand the challenges they face and to inspire new ideas to conserve them. Kevin and his family reside in Edmond.

As director of human resources, Tammy Burnett leads and manages HR services, policies and programs of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden with an overarching goal of creating a high performance internal culture emphasizing quality, productivity, goal attainment and job satisfaction in support of the Zoo’s mission. She also oversees workforce recruitment and development.

Before joining the OKC Zoo leadership team in August, Tammy served as human resources manager for Empire Paper Company and the City of Wichita Falls, Texas. In these roles, she reduced employee turnover, lowered HR-related costs through the implementation of new technology, improved staffing metrics and ensured compliance with city, state and federal employment regulations. Burnett earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science from Midwestern State University, a Master of Arts in Communication and a Master of Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

“An organization’s success depends so much on its people and Tammy is a proven innovator who welcomes change,” Dwight Lawson, executive director/ceo, said. “The ideal human resources office effectively champions the organization and its mission while allowing employees to achieve job satisfaction. Based on her people-first mindset and history of achievement, I’m beyond confident in Tammy’s leadership.”

Growing up in a military family, Tammy’s family relocated often. She graduated high school in Altus, Oklahoma, and would later hone her HR skills at Jackson County Memorial Hospital. Later working in Texas, Tammy was active in the Society of Human Resource Management, the Texas Municipal Human Resources Association and was a member of the 2013 Leadership Wichita Falls Class. Though only relocating to OKC five months ago, Tammy was accepted into the Fall 2017 OKC Connect Class and looks forward to being even more active in the future. She is a resident of Oklahoma City.

Visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and learn to care, connect and conserve! Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults, and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay in the “Zoo know” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit



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