Dr. Michael Adkesson

President & CEO 

Dr. Mike Adkesson is a renowned leader in the care of zoo animals and the conservation of wildlife. He is a passionate advocate on the importance of modern zoos and aquariums as a means for inspiring societal compassion and concern for wildlife and nature.

As President & CEO, Dr. Adkesson is committed to building upon the rich history of one of the world’s preeminent zoos. He is focused on maintaining leadership in animal care and welfare, inspiring conservation awareness in the next generation of people from all backgrounds, and transforming the Zoo’s campus with innovative new animal habitats as the Zoo approaches its centennial celebration in 2034. With an average of 2 million annual guests, Brookfield Zoo Chicago supports thousands of jobs and generates over $153 million in annual economic activity. Coupled with global conservation programs, the teams Dr. Adkesson leads are working to make meaningful positive impacts on the conservation of our planet’s wildlife and ecosystems.

With diplomate status in the American College of Zoological Medicine and the European College of Zoological Medicine, Dr. Adkesson is one of a small group of veterinarians who are board-certified specialists in the veterinary care of Zoo animals and wildlife. Dr. Adkesson previously worked as a clinical veterinarian and later as Vice President of Clinical Medicine at Brookfield Zoo Chicago. During his tenure, the veterinary department grew to a recognized leader within the zoo and aquarium community that was known for pushing the boundaries and elevating the standards of care for zoo patients. The department launched new initiatives in zoo-focused veterinary radiology, advanced imaging, anesthesia, and conservation medicine. Over the past decade, the Zoo’s premier veterinary education program also became one of the most sought-after programs globally.

Dr. Adkesson is a past-president of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and a professional fellow of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as being actively involved in many other professional organizations. He is an adjunct professor with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and has trained numerous veterinary and graduate students. As an accomplished researcher and clinician, Dr. Adkesson is also the author of over a hundred peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings.

For fifteen years, Dr. Adkesson has also led conservation programs in coastal Peru focusing on endangered Humboldt penguins, Peruvian fur seals, South American sea lions, and other marine species. This passion has resulted in field research, capacity building, and community education programs that are making a positive conservation impact. As an associate researcher with Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru, he has also mentored numerous students who have gone on to their own careers in conservation.

Dr. Adkesson (or Dr. Mike as those at the Zoo call him) received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree with honors from the University of Illinois. Following a clinical internship year in internal medicine and surgery, Dr. Adkesson completed three years of residency training in zoological medicine at the University of Missouri and Saint Louis Zoo. In addition to being a board-certified veterinarian, Dr. Adkesson also holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. He shares his world with his wonderful wife, Adriane, also a veterinarian, their three amazing children, and several pets.