Careers with the Chicago Zoological Society


What types of positions are available?
Many people think of zookeeper positions when they think about working at a zoo, but it takes all different types of people from many different backgrounds and a wide range of talents, skills, knowledge, and experience to operate a zoo. Positions include office and administrative staff, fundraising staff, safety and security professionals, groundskeepers, custodians, trades workers, marketing professionals, educators, researchers and scientists, food service workers, retail staff, membership staff, graphic artists, computer professionals, and many others.

Is Brookfield Zoo open in the winter?
Yes. Brookfield Zoo is open 365 days a year and has 435 year-round positions. In addition, over 1,000 temporary workers are hired to staff the zoo during our busy summer season. Staff in most office positions work Monday through Friday. Because we are a seven day a week operation, however, some positions require work on holidays or weekends.

How do I become a zookeeper?
Zookeeping positions with the Chicago Zoological Society require a Bachelors Degree in biology, animal husbandry, zoology, or the equivalent combination of training and/or experience. Prior relevant experience working with animals is a must for these highly competitive positions and specific experience with the particular animals involved with the position that is open is preferred. CZS zookeepers are among the highest paid zookeepers in the country, so competition for these positions is very stiff. Zookeepers are responsible for basic animal care, but they also perform animal observations, may participate in breeding programs, give talks to guests about the animals, and much more. Some zookeepers start as an intern or in a temporary zookeeping position. These opportunities are a good way to gain relevant zookeeping experience to help qualify for a full-time position as a zookeeper.

How can I get experience as a zookeeper?
Temporary zookeeping positions or internships provide valuable and relevant experience that may help qualify you for a full-time zookeeping position. Competition for temporary zookeeping positions and internships is stiff, as we receive many more applications than internships available. The Society has a College Experiential Learning Opportunities program (abbreviated “C.E.L.O.”) for college students who are interested in internships and work-study opportunities. Participation in the C.E.L.O. program is for college-level students and involves a formal application and selection process. See our web page on Internship opportunities for more information.

What is it like to work for the Chicago Zoological Society?
The Chicago Zoological Society is a leading conservation organization and has an exciting, fast-paced work environment and a family friendly atmosphere. We are very customer focused, as we host over 2 million guests to Brookfield Zoo each year. We are committed to conservation in the broadest sense, and we take PRIDE in every aspect of our operation. Our employees enjoy a unique work environment in a beautiful park-like setting that is based on respect, openness, cooperation, and involvement. At Brookfield Zoo, we work hard and we play hard! Employees are proud to work for the Chicago Zoological Society and are committed to our important conservation mission. Our dedicated staff has a true sense of purpose and a strong commitment to animals and conservation.

How do I apply for a position?
Generally, applicants must apply on line through our on-line Career Center. Here you can create a profile, search open positions, and apply for jobs. You can also create a Search Agent to notify you when newly posted positions become available. Go to our on-line Career Page at: CZS Career Center Log-in.

If you have not yet applied for a position with the Chicago Zoological Society, when you enter the Career Center, you will be prompted to create a profile. If you have already applied for a position with the Society, all you need to do is enter the user name and password that you created when you first applied and search the positions that are currently available.

The Chicago Zoological Society offers reasonable accommodations that provide applicants with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in the employment application process and to be considered for a job. If you need a reasonable accommodation in order to complete an application or to complete any other part of the application process, please complete the ADA Accommodation Request Form for Applicants.

How do I know if my resume was received?
When you apply to our on-line Career Center, you will automatically receive an email notification confirming receipt of your application or resume. If it is determined that an interview is desired, you will be contacted to arrange an interview. You can check on the status of your application by visiting the on-line Career Center. Due to the thousands of applications we receive each year, we are unable to respond to phone calls regarding open positions.

Can I apply to more than one position?
Yes. We encourage you to apply through the Career Center to each position for which you are qualified and that most closely matches your interests. There may be similar jobs open, but that have a different work schedule or are located in a different location within Brookfield Zoo. You will need to review the posting details for each position and the specific requirements of the position prior to applying.

How often should I apply?
You only need to apply to a specific position once. There is a unique identification number associated with each specific position and posting. New positions are posted to our Career Center regularly. You may create a Job Agent to be automatically notified of newly posted positions that meet your search criteria.

When will I be contacted by a recruiter?
This depends on several factors. We receive a large volume of applications for each open position. We will review your background as it relates to the requirements of the position, and we will contact those candidates that best meet the requirements of the position and our specific needs. It may be several days to a few weeks before you hear from us. You may review the status of your application at any time through the Society’s on-line Career Center.

What kind of people do you look for?
Besides meeting the required minimum qualifications for a job, we look for people who are caring, flexible, team oriented, outgoing, enthusiastic, who have strong people skills, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and who have an interest in animals and the natural world. It takes a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds and a wide range of talents, skills, knowledge, perspectives, and experience to operate a zoo.

Where do you advertise your jobs?
The Society utilizes over 150 different recruitment sources including job boards, the internet, schools and universities, community organizations, local, regional, and national publications, trade and professional associations, diversity organizations, and a variety of other community recruitment and referral sources. In addition, we participate in a wide variety of job fairs and recruitment and other events in the community. The particular sources used for each opening are determined based on the type of position involved and other recruitment needs.

What happens if I am contacted about a position I applied for?
Typically, the first step is to conduct an initial phone screen with those candidates who we feel are best suited for the position. If both parties are mutually interested following this discussion, you may then be contacted to continue to the next step for an interview.

How long does the interview process take?
This varies depending on the position and the number of candidates who applied and are being considered. The recruiter will be able to answer this question related to the position for which you are being considered.

What happens if I receive a job offer?
Our job offers are contingent upon successfully completing a thorough background check process, which, depending on the requirements of the position, may include employment verification, professional references, educational and other credentials, and driving record. This process typically takes 7-10 business days to complete.

How do I get to Brookfield Zoo?
The zoo is accessible by public transportation, including the bus and commuter train. The zoo is also accessible via the Eisenhower Expressway (exit I-290 at First Avenue South) and the Stevenson Expressway (exit I-55 at First Avenue North). Follow the signs to Brookfield Zoo.
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