News Release

March 26, 2021

Media Contacts:
Chicago Zoological Society: Sondra Katzen,, 708-688-8351
IMLS: Brittany Vanderpool,, 202-248-5487
Chicago Zoological Society Named Finalist for
2021 IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Brookfield, Ill. —The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced today that the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is among 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Chicago Zoological Society is one of two institutions in Illinois to be selected as a finalist for this award. CZS was also a finalist in 2018 and 2019, the last time IMLS gave out National Medals.

"The revival and reinstitution of the National Medals by IMLS is another signal of recovery and renewal in the nation’s very challenging—but very hopeful—times,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We are celebrating not only the ongoing excellence of the best of our museums and libraries, but their extraordinary efforts through the pandemic, the recession, the racial justice protests, and national divisions to serve, heal, and bring together our communities. Congratulations to all 30 finalists."

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.

“The Chicago Zoological Society is honored to be nominated for the 2021 IMLS National Medal for Museum Services,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “When the COVID-19 pandemic precluded in-person zoo visits and educational programs, our staff immediately pivoted to virtual education. Their efforts have strengthened relationships with our zoo community, provided opportunities to reach families of all backgrounds, and inspired conservation leadership.”

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging Brookfield Zoo’s community members to share stories, memories, pictures, and videos on social media as part of the Share Your Story campaign, using the #IMLSmedals hashtag, and engage with IMLS on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

National Medal winners will be announced in late spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during a virtual National Medal Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.

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About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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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