(The Center Square) – The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, announced it cut 56 positions amid restructuring.
"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," the society said in a statement.
The 56 full-time equivalent positions eliminated on Saturday included both filled and unfilled positions. The positions were cuts were permanent, according to a news release.
"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," the society said in a statement. "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."
The society has not yet said when the zoo will reopen. Brookfield Zoo has remained closed since March 19.
"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," the society said. "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."
Other nonprofit and cultural institutions throughout Illinois have also made cuts.
In April, the Chicago Zoological Society announced temporary layoffs and furloughs.
"The zoo has been closed since March 19 and has practically no earned revenue stream available at this time," the society said in a statement released in early April. "CZS was forced to make the difficult decision to place nearly one-third of its staff on temporary lay-off/unpaid furlough as of April 4."
In February 2019, the society asked state lawmakers to include $260 million for Brookfield Zoo in the state's capital bill. At that time, it said it needed the money to overhaul facilities, fix leaky roofs and repair underground infrastructure such as gas, water and electric lines. The nonprofit organization said it might have to make cuts to community outreach and childhood education programs, reduce park hours and raise the cost of admission if it didn't get help from the state.