Henry Vilas Zoological Society files inappropriate conduct complaint against Zoo executive director

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The conduct of the Henry Vilas Zoo executive director and a researcher was the center of an investigation this winter after a complaint was filed by the society that supports the zoo, according to records obtained by WMTV.

Investigation documents show a complaint was filed against the zoo's executive director in fall of 2018.

According to the documents, Alison Prange, Executive Director of the Society, claims the zoo's Executive Director, Ronda Schwetz, called her inappropriate names, shared confidential information about her salary with employees, and shared a hotel room with a researcher that was doing work for the society and University of Wisconsin.

Prange also claims Schwetz has been intoxicated at conferences in 2016 and 2018. Schwetz admitted to drinking at the conferences.

Dane County Corporation Counsel began interviewing employees of the zoo and the nonprofit in December.

The society's employees claim once the complaint was filed in the fall of 2018, the zoo began to retaliate against them, keeping them from doing their jobs.

The Counsel found no evidence that proved that statement to be true.

Once the investigation concluded, the Counsel said there wasn't any basis to discipline Schwetz.

"While this working relationship between the organizations was somewhat strained even before Schwetz and Prange were involved, zoo staff that predated Prange’s arrival reported that it has escalated since her hire," investigation documents read.

The Counsel went on to explain why they decided not to discipline the zoo's executive director.

"Schwetz’ explanations were credible and she provided documentary evidence to support some of her claims."