Minnesota Zoo laying off staff, suspending seasonal hiring in face of COVID-19 pandemic

A bear in an exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo.

The Minnesota Zoo says staff reductions have become necessary due to the current situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the zoo to close and cancel or postpone many of its programs and events. 

The zoo has been closed since March 14. 

The zoo has already taken number of measures to reduce costs without affecting the health and safety of its animals and staff, including canceling or delaying major projects and freezing hiring and spending, according to a news release. But, those reductions will not be enough to sustain the zoo in the current environment created by the global pandemic, which zoo officials say is “unlike any challenge the zoo has experienced.” 

The zoo is laying off 48 zoo employees and four employees from the Minnesota Zoo Foundation. Vacant positions will remain open and seasonal hiring has been suspended. In total, 125 positions will be impacted. 

Despite the staff reductions, zoo officials said animals will continue to receive “exceptional” care and the zoo will make additional resources available for families and educators across the state.

Zoo officials said they are evaluating options for reopening, but the guest experience will be different than what it was before the pandemic.