Parrot Jungle Island hires United Airlines executive as COO
By Leslie Kraft
Parrot Jungle Island has hired Stephen M. Beatus as vice president and chief operating officer to replace Barbara Ibarra, formerly the attraction's general manager.
Parrot Jungle re-opened its $51 million facility in June on Watson Island after closing its original Pinecrest location. Changing the attraction's top management job to that of a COO instead of a general manager is reflective of the park's expanded facilities, Mr. Beatus said.
"General manager is a term used in the theme park industry, but Parrot Jungle's added banquet, ballroom and meeting facilities make it much more than that now," said Mr. Beatus, who spent the past 31 years with United Airlines Corp., most recently as vice president of its Latin American, Miami and Caribbean region.
In his new role, he is responsible for Parrot Jungle's day-to-day management, including operations, food and beverage, retail, sales and marketing and park services.
Ms. Ibarra left Parrot Jungle about two months ago to become executive director of the newly formed group Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe Inc. The not-for-profit, community-based organization is charged with the creation and supervision of a privatized foster-care system for the region.
The staff at Parrot Jungle, which was founded by Franz Scherr in 1936, has more than doubled to about 250 since its move, officials said.
"Stephen's strong track record in the tour and travel industry is a natural fit for Parrot Jungle Island," said Bern Levine, who has owned the attraction since 1988 with Ronald Krongold. "We look forward to his valuable contributions and leadership as we continue to expand Parrot Jungle's unique, up-close animal experience."
The new park has more than double the capacity of its old location - which averaged around 300,000 visitors per year, according to trade publication Amusement Business. The publication estimated the park would see 700,000 visitors this year, generating about $12 million in revenue.
Currently, Mr. Beatus said, Parrot Jungle has 2,000 visitors each weekend.