BUFFALO, NY -- The Buffalo Zoo announced Thursday that Dr. Donna Fernandes will retire as President of the zoo, but will still be involved in exhibit design and fundraising.

Her retirement as president will take place in the spring of 2017, after a successor is found.

Dr. Fernandes came to the Buffalo Zoo in 2000 and helped transform the zoo with new exhibits, including: Vanishing Animals, Ecostation, Otter Creek, Sea Lion Cove, M&T Bank Rainforest Falls, Delta Sonic Heritage Farm and the Garman Family Arctic Edge. Attendance has also increased to over 500,000 annually during her tenure.

Fernandes hopes to spend more time with her family who live out of state.