A man who is no stranger to the North Carolina Aquariums has been named the new state aquariums division director.
Hap Fatzinger, who has for the last five years served as Fort Fisher aquarium director in a career spanning more than 25 years, will take the helm for the North Carolina Aquariums division on Jan. 15.
North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson said in a statement that Fatzinger “brings a wealth of experience, creativity, and strong leadership skills to his new role.”
“His energy and commitment to conservation and sustainability, education, and animal care make him the ideal choice to lead our North Carolina Aquariums to even greater successes in these areas,” Wilson said.
Fatzinger is replacing Maylon White, who led the division in 2019 and retired last June.
“I’m honored to serve as director of the North Carolina Aquariums, a division recognized as leaders in conservation,” Fatzinger said in a release. “Grateful to be in good company among the state’s greatest treasures, I look forward to supporting a passionate team, the foundation of our success, and welcoming the more than 1.4 million guests who visit our sites every year.”
During the course of his career within the aquarium division, Fatzinger worked for nearly two decades at the aquarium in Kure Beach, climbing the ranks from volunteer to staff and eventually stepping into the role of aquarium curator.
He was named in 2015 the director of the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium, where he remained until his return to Fort Fisher in 2019.
“During his tenure at Fort Fisher, he has helped grow the organization from a small, local attraction to a nationally recognized aquarium,” according to the release.
The state aquariums division includes the aquariums at Fort Fisher in New Hanover County, Pine Knoll Shores in Carteret County and Roanoke Island in Dare County. Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head also falls under the division.
In addition to overseeing the aquariums, Fatzinger will work with the North Carolina Aquarium Society, a nonprofit that manages fundraising, development, and conservation initiatives for the aquariums and the pier.
Joanna Zazzali, Fort Fisher aquarium’s visitor services coordinator, will act as that aquariums interim director until that position is filled.