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Staff trimmed at Lincoln Park Zoo

A museum spokeswoman blamed the fallout from the pandemic and ongoing financial uncertainties.

Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo, where 18 employees lost their jobs this week due to ongoing fallout from the coronavirus shutdown. | Chicago Sun-Times file photo.
Sun-Times Media

Lincoln Park Zoo has become the latest of the city’s cultural institutions to trim its staff, blaming coronavirus-related financial difficulties.

The zoo has cut 18 employees, about 7% of its staff, a zoo spokeswoman said.

“Today is a difficult day for the Lincoln Park Zoo family. Having to say goodbye to staff with a reduction in force is always a last resort. The financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has become too large to carry our current salary investment,” zoo spokeswoman Jillian Braun said in a statement.

Cost-saving measures already in place weren’t enough, Braun said.

“Lincoln Park Zoo is expecting a budget shortfall of $2.5 [million] to $5 million, minimally, this fiscal year,” she said. “The zoo is hopeful we will see a significant influx of earned revenue with a safe reopening.

“However, we do not know what the future will bring and will not be able to recoup the funds lost during the closure. We hope to reopen the zoo and share the joys of wildlife again as soon as possible.”

Late last month, the Museum of Science and Industry laid off about a quarter of its staff, also citing the financial challenges of dealing with the pandemic. Two weeks earlier, the Adler Planetarium announced 120 layoffs of full- and part-time employees.

All of the city’s major museums closed in mid-March in response to the spread of the virus.