PORTLAND -- The senior veterinarian who left the Oregon Zoo in the wake of an orangutan's death investigation will return,just over two months later.

The zoo announced Wednesday that Mitch Finnegan will be returning next week, but in a non-managerial role.

Finnegan left in May, along with zoo director Kim Smith, after an investigation revealed that mistakes were made in the death of 20-year-old Sumatran orangutan Kutai.

A Metro statement released at the time said:

  • Standard operating procedures and best practices were not followed.
  • Lapses in procedures and protocols were tolerated.
  • There was a lack of trust regarding the accuracy of reports and whether important facts regarding animal care were omitted.

Background: Orangutan's death detailed by zoo

Zoo employee Teri Dresler stepped into the role of director, and staff veterinarians teamed up to fill Finnegan's position.

We made a decision based on the information we had at the time, Dresler said Wednesday. However, in the weeks following Dr. Finnegan s departure, I spoke with numerous animal-care experts and veterinary professionals both within the zoo and across the country. It became clear to me that it would be a mistake not to have a veterinarian of Dr. Finnegan s caliber on our staff.

Under the new management structure, Finnegan will focus solely on veterinary care and will not have to manage a staff, said zoo spokesman Hova Najarian.

Improving protocols and accountability for animal care is essential, Finnegan said. I can do this best by focusing my work on animal care. I m grateful to Metro for seeing me as part of the zoo s future.

The zoo also announced that current Oregon Zoo veterinarian, and former Dallas Zoo lead vet, Tim Storms will become senior veterinarian.

We ve gone through a significant transition in recent months, Storms said in a prepared statement Wednesday. But we have a great team in place and now can focus on what we do best: provide great care for the animals.

The zoo is still looking for a new hospital manager. Najarian said the new management structure is similar to that of comparable zoos.

More: Oregon Zoo orangutan Kutai dies after illness

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