John Kanzia’s fascination in marine animals started early; always intrigued by sharks in particular, the deal was sealed when his second grade teacher brought pictures from a summer trip to Sea World for show-and-tell. From that day forward, working at an aquarium or in a field related to marine biology became one of John’s career goals. Shortly after participating in an overnight program at the John G. Shedd Aquarium through the College of DuPage and while taking classes towards his BAS in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, John became a volunteer in the Shedd’s Water Quality Lab.
Over the next 9 years, John worked at Shedd as a Water Quality Technologist until the opportunity to manage Brookfield Zoo’s Environmental Quality Program presented itself in 2005. John became part of the Brookfield Zoo team in February 2006. There are a relatively small number of Environmental Quality specialists in Zoos and Aquariums. Today, John operates one of the most comprehensive Environmental Quality programs in the country.
As the Environmental Quality Manager, John is responsible for monitoring the environmental conditions of the habitats that our animals here at Brookfield Zoo call home. This includes water quality, air quality, lighting, temperature, humidity, noise level, and even using one of his kits to determine if animals are comfortable during seasonal temperature changes. To do this, John uses a combination of over 30 benchtop instruments, online water quality surveillance instruments (that’s right, even when he’s not actually on-site, John’s still checking the water!), dataloggers, and specialty spot-check kits.
John spends the majority of his time performing chemistry tests on water samples from aquatic exhibits around the zoo, interpreting the results, entering the data into a database, and communicating the results to animal care staff. John then directs any actions that are needed to make adjustments to maintain ideal conditions for our animals. John is truly a master of “gadgets” – using all kinds of unique tools to collect information to ensure our care staff provides the highest quality of care for our animals. John also keeps a close eye on some of the natural environments at the zoo, including the management of water conditions in Swan Lake and Dragonfly Marsh.
One of John’s favorite things about working at the Brookfield Zoo is that all of the testing and data collection is done to ensure the health and welfare of our animals. It’s a great feeling to know that every day you’re making a difference. John loves that no two days are ever the same and finds it to be a privilege to be part of the Veterinary Services team and work with such a talented and dedicated group of people.