The Sacramento Zoo announced on Friday that Mary Healy, the Executive Zoo Director/CEO of The Sacramento Zoo, has died.
Healy left Ecuador on Thursday and was on her way to the Galapagos Islands when she suffered a brain aneurysm. Later that day, she was declared brain dead, and then suffered a massive heart attack.
Healy began her zoo career as a bird keeper at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in South Carolina. She spent time working at Disney’s Discovery Island at Walt Disney World in Florida and then in December of 1999, she was hired as the Director of the Sacramento Zoo.
The full-scale veterinary hospital at the Sacramento Zoo was built under Healy’s direction, as were the renovations made for new habitats for lemurs, thick-billed parrots, giant anteaters, ground hornbills, burrowing owls, yellow-billed magpies, tamanduas, giraffes, red pandas, and North American river otters.
During her nearly 15-year span as director, Healy also served as Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She was also the association’s president.
According to the zoo, Mary Healy was a leader in the community and a passionate advocate for animals, and she will be greatly missed.
A memorial in her honor will be held at a later date.
Healy’s family has asked that no flowers be sent, and donations in her memory can be made to the Sacramento Zoological Society.
Greg Cotta filed this report.