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March 4, 2023

Executive Compensation at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (2020)

by Anne Paddock

The Zoological Society of San Diego is more popularly known, and does business as the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA).  A tax-exempt, non-profit conservation organization, SDZWA has been advertising in the Wall Street Journal trying to raise funds (total revenue dipped from $422 million in 2019 to $247 million in 2020  and hen rose to $356 million in 2021).

Perhaps more widely known for the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SDZWA claims to have 440,000 members (320,000 adults and 120,000 children) who generated $3.6 million in dues in 2021 (an average of less than $10 each).

There are 10 independent voting members (trustees) of the governing body (although 11 are listed on the Form 990 due to timing differences), 7 (64%) of whom are male while 4 (36%) are female (note:  The 990 does not report gender; determinations were made based on name and google searches).

In 2021, total revenue was $356 million, most of which came from the “zoological habitat” which appears to be the San Diego Zoo ($230 million), contributions, gifts, and grants ($47 million), and government grants ($32 million).

Expenses totaled $272 million (not including $33 million in depreciation) in 2021 with the largest expense reported to be compensation. 4,309 employees received $165 million in compensation (an average of $38,000).  91 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation with the most highly compensated employees reported to be:

  • $1,018,648:  Paul Baribault, President and CEO
  • $  600,584:  Shawn Dixon, COO
  • $  538,483:  Aida Rosa, Chief HR Officer
  • $  529,901:  Nadine Lamberski, Chief Conservation/Wildlife Health Officer
  • $  515,898:  David Franco, CFO
  • $  420,111:  Wendy Bulger, General Counsel
  • $  411,154:  David Gillig, Chief Philanthropy Officer
  • $  404,073:  Dwight Scott, Executive Director, San Diego Zoo
  • $  386,019:  Lisa Peterson, Executive Director, Safari Park
  • $  339,212:  David Page, VP, Finance
  • $  257,026:  David Miller, Chief Marketing Officer
  • $  227,300:  Erika Kohler, Interim Exec Dir, San Diego Zoo
  • $  217,714:  Dhevsivanand Govender, Chief Technology Officer

As illustrated above, Paul Baribault, the President and CEO was the highest compensated employee.

25 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation with the five most highly compensated reported to be:

  • $1,344,272:  Variance Collective LLC, of Johnson City, TX for construction services
  • $1,113,457:  Scott Fence, of Vista, CA for construction services
  • $  963,178:  Burner Sheet Metal LLC of Lakeside, CA for construction services
  • $  642,765:  Legacy Rock and Waterscapes, of Yorba Linda, CA for construction services
  • $  592,792:  Paul Woods Construction, of Valley Center, CA for construction services

To view the IRS Form 990 (2021), click here.

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