News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations,

June 5, 2020


Statement from the Chicago Zoological Society

Brookfield, Ill. – The extended and state-mandated temporary closure of Brookfield Zoo driven by COVID-19 health concerns has caused the Chicago Zoological Society to reduce and restructure its operations, programs, and staff. As a result, the Society will, unfortunately, eliminate 56 full-time equivalents effective Saturday, June 6, 2020. These permanent position elimination decisions, comprised of both filled and unfilled positions, were made after thoughtful management review. All decisions were rooted in concern for the long-term sustainability of the organization at a time when the Chicago Zoological Society is facing unprecedented and unanticipated pressures. These pressures resulted in difficult decisions to scale back operations to better align with state re-opening guidance. Many organizations, like ours, look forward to welcoming back our guests in a slow, yet progressive manner. This will result in fewer visitors due to social distancing requirements until we are able to operate without restrictions at full capacity. We value the commitment and hard work of every one of our talented employees. However, like so many other employers across the nation who depend on customers, these difficult decisions were necessary. We continue to assure the continued care and welfare of the animals in our care, as well as the safety of our guests, staff, volunteers, and members. Union employees who have been laid off will remain on a recall list for one year in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

The proper care and well-being of all the animals at Brookfield Zoo continues to be of paramount importance for management, animal care staff, veterinarians, nutritionists, and all those who care deeply about them. We all look forward to the zoo’s re-opening to the public once government restrictions are lifted and welcoming guests and members back to Brookfield Zoo.

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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. 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, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


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


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