Zoo New York at Thompson Park Executive Director Lawrence Sorel announces retirement

News release

WATERTOWN, NY — After nearly 6 years as Executive Director of Zoo New York at Thompson Park, Lawrence Sorel is retiring. While he will be stepping out of the leadership role immediately, he will continue to be available on a volunteer basis to consult and advise. He and his wife, Darlene will continue to live in the zoo house and be available to assist with the transition period.

Mr. Sorel’s first experience in Thompson Park came in 1998 when he assisted in clean up and repair of the Zoo following the ice storm. He moved to Watertown in 2018, after 20+ successful years at Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo as their executive director. Arriving at a time that the zoo desperately needed his leadership and skillset, his term included a string of achievements and milestones, including leading the development of an organizational strategic plan, facilities master planning, and a new brand that changed the name from New York State Zoo to Zoo New York at Thompson Park. It was his steady and thoughtful leadership that guided the Zoo through the global Covid pandemic. As his “retirement passion project,” Mr. Sorel has exceeded the 5-year commitment that he offered the Conservancy, but before announcing his retirement, he wanted to ensure that the Zoo had funding secured to persist through the slower winter season and give the community time to seek a sustainable long-term model of operation.

“The Conservancy and our community owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to Larry and Darlene for their countless hours, selfless efforts, and steadfast leadership during the last 5 plus challenging years. We would not have a zoo today without Larry’s hard work and contributions. We look forward to working with him as we transition duties and continue pursuit of a long-term sustainable model for the Zoo,” said Dr. Mark Irwin, Thompson Park Conservancy Board Chair.

“Larry is a role model, beloved team leader and great friend. We all wish him and Darlene the very best. They deserve some fun and well-deserved relaxation too!” Dr. Irwin will volunteer with staff on a temporary basis as interim executive director with support from the Thompson Park Conservancy’s Board of Directors and volunteers from the community.

Mr. Sorel: “I want to thank everyone I have worked with over the years. We have worked hard to get here. I hope that the Zoo finds the community support to be the best it can be in the future.

For information about the Zoo New York at Thompson Park, visit www.zoonewyork.org email info@zoonewyork.org or call (315) 782-6180.