News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,

April 21, 2020


Chicago Zoological Society Thanks Its Volunteers

Brookfield, Ill. – This week, April 19-25, is National Volunteer Week, and the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, salutes its 1,400 volunteers, including adults, King Conservation Science Scholar teens, and corporate volunteer partners, for selflessly sharing their time, talents, and passion for celebrating animals and nature with zoo guests.

Currently, with the zoo closed to the public and the need for staff to take precautions and practice social distancing, approximately 20 of the zoo’s volunteers have taken on another important task as “Merry Mask Makers.” With a combined 176 years of service among them, they have sewn nearly 700 masks for the zoo’s animal care specialists, who still need to work to ensure the animals are being cared for during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the mask makers, who has been a volunteer at the zoo for 34 years, is also a nurse in the operating room at MacNeal Hospital, where she has been working 12-hour shifts and then going home to sew masks for the staff.

In 2019, Brookfield Zoo’s volunteers generously contributed nearly 75,000 hours of service. Many of them dedicate time as educators known as docents and engage guests by sharing their knowledge about animals, habitats, conservation, and nature. Guest guides greet zoogoers at the north and south entrances, offer recommendations for a satisfying visit, and answer customer service questions. Other volunteers assist with the Society’s many outreach programs or help out with various office duties, as well as during special events such as Boo! at the Zoo and Holiday Magic.

National Volunteer Week was founded by Points of Light and has been celebrated annually since 1974 during the third week in April. The volunteers at Brookfield Zoo who donate their time are just a sampling of the thousands across the country who keep many organizations, running, communities safe, and provide the services that otherwise would not exist were it not for them.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

Photo Captions

1: Cheryle Davis of Clarendon Hills has been a volunteer at Brookfield Zoo for 2 years. She is one of the “Merry Mask Makers” who has been sewing masks for animal care staff. (photo courtesy Cheryle Davis)

2: Laurie Walter from Homewood volunteers at Brookfield Zoo and is making masks for the animal care staff. (photo courtesy Laurie Walter)

3: Cindy Blaszak of La Grange makes masks for the animal care staff at Brookfield Zoo. (photo courtesy Cindy Blaszak)

4: Jennie Stevens from Oak Park sews masks for the animal care staff to wear at Brookfield Zoo. (photo courtesy Jennie Stevens)

5: Bill Prescott of Downers Grove has been a volunteer at Brookfield Zoo for 13 years. As one of the “Merry Mask Makers,” he is sewing masks for the animal care staff to wear while working at the zoo. (photo courtesy Bill Prescott)

6: Lois Barnett of Lisle is volunteer at Brookfield Zoo for 29 years and is one of the “Merry Mask Makers” who has been sewing masks for the animal care staff to wear. (photo courtesy Lois Barnett)

7: Teri Marsh-Souders of Brookfield has been a volunteer at Brookfield Zoo for 34 years. She is also a nurse at MacNeal Hospital and has been making mask for animal care staff after her 12-hour shift days. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

8: Wendy Petrosky from Brookfield is a volunteer at Brookfield Zoo and has been sewing masks for the animal care staff to wear. (photo courtesy Wendy Petrosky)


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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