Honolulu Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo is resigning his post effective March 1.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell's office on Friday released Mollinedo's resignation letter.
"I want to say mahalo to Manuel Mollinedo for his two years of service running one of our city’s premiere attractions, the Honolulu Zoo," Mayor Caldwell said. "Manuel was able to get the zoo accredited by the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums and he led the renovations of the zoo entrance and the new elephant exhibit. Under his watch, the zoo collected a record amount in admission fees which helped the city reduce the cost to taxpayers."
Mollinedo said in the letter dated Tuesday says he's proud the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited the zoo. He says he's proud of the Honolulu Zoo's new entrance and elephant exhibit.
But Mollinedo wrote he hopes the city focuses on giving the zoo more autonomy and authority over the Honolulu Zoo Society.
He says this would bring zoo governance into compliance with Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines. He says this is critical to maintaining the zoo's accreditation.
"I had to evaluate you know, my life and where I'm at and I have to say, it's going to be nice to leave on a positive note," said Mollinedo. He added that he's leaving for personal reasons, on his own terms. He said a big factor was his wife, who still lives in California.
You know my wife has been very, very supportive. She really enjoys coming out here about every other month. But, I think she's happy to have me home. But you know, she loves Hawaii just as much as I do." Mollinedo said they hope to retire on the Big Island in about a year.
Mollinedo was head of the San Francisco Zoo before coming to Honolulu. He became Honolulu Zoo director in December 2010.
The city is accepting applications from across the country, but Mayor Caldwell says his preference would be to hire someone from Hawaii.
Mollinedo said, "I would make the recommendation to the City that they seriously consider Baird Fleming. He's the assistant director here. I hired him probably about six months ago. He has not disappointed me. He's done an excellent job."