Zoo names hospitality expert as new deputy director


Utpal Passi will oversee zoo operations, business partnerships

Utpal Passi, formerly vice president of guest relations at the Philadelphia Zoo, joined the Oregon Zoo this month as the new deputy director of operations. His duties include overseeing the zoo's guest services, strategic initiatives and business partnerships.

"I am excited to join such a great team," said Passi. "The Oregon Zoo is known for its supportive, engaged community, and I look forward to building on those relationships."

For the past 7 years, Passi has worked at the Philadelphia Zoo, where he was responsible for driving the overall quality of guest experience and revenue operations — everything from admissions and membership operations to stroller rentals and face-painting. Prior to that, he worked in the food service management industry for Sodexo.

"We are delighted to welcome Passi to our team," said Dr. Don Moore, Oregon Zoo director. "We conducted a thorough nationwide search to find the right candidate, and he rose straight to the top. He's an engaging leader with a wealth of relevant expertise and experience, known for implementing innovative organization-wide programs. Passi is a great addition to our team, and we anticipate growing the Oregon Zoo's community and business partnerships with him at the helm."

Born and raised in India, Passi moved to the U.S. 17 years ago, earning a bachelor's degree in hospitality management from Pennsylvania's Widener University and an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business. A father of three, he looks forward to exploring the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian| 503-220-5714 |hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org

Kelsey Wallace| 503-220-5754 |kelsey.wallace@oregonzoo.org