Brookfield Zoo cuts jobs, animals

December 14, 2010 (BROOKFIELD, Ill.)

The suburban zoo will bring its workforce to a 15-year low with the job reductions, but zoo officials said the cuts will not have a negative impact on the visitor experience.

The zoo's Great Bear Wilderness exhibit, which opened this year, is drawing crowds. However, the zoo's parent company has instituted budget cutbacks.

"Layoffs at any time of the year are difficult and in our case necessary but difficult if we're going to insure that it is affordable and accessible for children and families," Matthew Mayer, Brookfield Zoo, said.

The zoo noticed a decrease in paid attendance and charitable donations, so cost-cutting measures will be put in place to close a $1.3 million shortfall. Eleven staff positions will be eliminated --but none will affect animal welfare.

"We will provide the animals with world class care," said Mayer.

Two small animal exhibits will be closed. Those animals will be sent to other reputable zoos. Zoo officials said they also need to make $60 million worth of repairs over the next years.

Brookfield zoo is an attraction that brings families year round whether it's for Holiday Magic on the weekend and for Boo at the Zoo during Halloween or during the summer, they come year round because it's such an affordable attraction for our families," said Mayer.

The zoo is projects a $2 million shortfall for 2011 and executives are already looking at possible cutbacks next year as well. Officials said don't want to cut back on the more than 50 free days offer nor do they want to raise general admission.

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