Association of Zoos & Aquariums

news release 

Contact: Rob Vernon, AZA, 301.244.3352;

Contact: Sondra Katzen, CZS, (708) 688-8351;  

Chicago Zoological Society’s Volunteer Engagement Program Recognized with National Award
     Silver Spring, Maryland, November 5, 2015 – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, received Significant Achievement in AZA’s 2015 Volunteer Engagement Award for its 40-plus Years of Engaging Volunteers program—the first year this award has been presented. The AZA Volunteer Engagement Award recognizes outstanding achievement in volunteer program development and engaging volunteers in the overall mission and operation of the organization.
“AZA and its accredited aquariums and zoos appreciate the dedication and passion of tens of thousands of volunteers, who work hard every year to help us accomplish our conservation and education mission,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “This award provides well-deserved recognition to the Chicago Zoological Society for its innovative Volunteer Engagement program, through which the community is engaged in all facets of Brookfield Zoo’s operations.”
The Chicago Zoological Society has engaged volunteers since 1971. In 2014, Brookfield Zoo’s more than 800 adult, teen, and corporate volunteers contributed nearly 75,000 hours to the Society that benefitted just about every department at the zoo, including its 2.1 million guests. Many of them dedicate time as volunteer educators or Docents and share their knowledge about the animals and nature with zoo guests. Guest Guides welcome zoogoers at the north and south entrances and offer recommendations for a more satisfying visit as well as answer customer service questions. Some volunteers assist with the Society’s many outreach programs, help out with various office duties, and during special events throughout the year. The teen volunteers, who are enrolled in the Society’s King Conservation Scholars Program, share their knowledge of animals that they learn through interactive workshops, activities, and research opportunities at Brookfield Zoo, as well as community action projects, while developing college readiness, leadership, and career skills. The average length of service for a CZS adult volunteer is nearly 10 years. The youngest volunteers in the King Conservation Science Scholars Program are 14 years old. The most senior volunteer is 96 years old.
“It is because of our volunteers' dedication and selfless service to the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo that we are able to offer the best guest service and education to our visitors. We could not do it without them!” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Society
About the Chicago Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people 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. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit
About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit


Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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