Winnipeg's zoo will be the best in Canada within a decade, its new director is predicting.

Brian Joseph, who has been hired as the Assiniboine Park Zoo's new director of zoological operations, says he also believes it will be among the top five zoos in North America.

Joseph has four decades of experience at 30 different zoos, aquariums, museums and nature centres across the United States, including Sea World California and the San Diego Zoo.

He has come to Winnipeg from California, where he was most recently executive director of the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

"The reason I'm here is because this zoo has more potential currently than any zoo in North America," Joseph told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon.

He replaces Tim Sinclair-Smith, who left Winnipeg this past spring to return to his native Australia.

Joseph said his top priorities at the Assiniboine Park Zoo are to complete the polar bear exhibit and to get the zoo accredited.