BROOKFIELD, Ill. (CBS)Brookfield Zoo announced Wednesday that it will be closing for the months of January and February due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, said it would also place 40 staff on layoff/furlough status effective New Year’s Day, with a plan to bring all the staffers back on or before March 1.

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The staff who are being furloughed are not considered essential to support minimum operations while the zoo is closed. Staffers who are responsible for the health and welfare of the animals at the zoo, and for maintenance and security – among other critical operations – will not be among those furloughed.

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“We value the commitment and hard work of every one of our talented employees,” the Chicago Zoological Society said in a news release. “However, like so many other employers across the nation who depend on customers, these difficult decisions were necessary. We continue to assure the continued care and welfare of the animals in our care, as well as the safety of our guests, staff, volunteers, and members.”

Brookfield Zoo reopened in July after closing around the start of the pandemic in March. One third of the staff were told to stay home at that point – they received medical benefits, but were not paid because the zoo could not afford it.

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