MPZ Values – Collaboration is Key

Collaboration is one of the seven Miller Park Zoo Values. The “values list” states:  We are inspired by the contributions of the individual and the power of a team.

The most common kind of collaboration is among the keepers. Currently six full-time zookeepers care for about 600 animals. This would not be possible without a lot of collaboration. While each keeper has primary responsibility for a specific group of animals there are many times when they collaborate to accomplish a goal. In January, it took all of them working together to move three goats from their enclosure to the cow yard where they will remain for a few weeks and hopefully mate.

Keepers at Miller Park Zoo have also worked at other zoos and their past experiences are very valuable in the daily care of the animals. They all have interesting stories about animals they worked with that we do not have at our zoo.

San Clemente Island Goat peeking through a fence

Collaboration with other zoos

Collaborations with other zoos are common. As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Miller Park Zoo has a collaboration network of over 200 zoos and aquariums nationwide. The Louisville Zoo in Kentucky has worked with the Miller Park Zoo many times. When Miller Park Zoo closed the seal exhibit, three seals went to Louisville. In the past a snow leopard and a tiger have also relocated to Louisville. Larger zoos have bigger holding areas where animals can be kept until other zoos are ready to receive them.

Miller Park Zoo collaborated with Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina by housing two King Vultures until Riverbank was ready to accept them.

In addition to providing animal relocation options, zoos share their knowledge and provide educational opportunities for keepers. Erik Heinonen has worked with zookeepers from the Peoria Zoo through the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Bowling for Rhinos Program. The program raises funds and awareness to support programs focused on education, protection, population management, and habitat conservation. The Illinois AAZK Chapter meets monthly to share ideas.

In 2019, Rose Johnson spent three days at the Brookfield Zoo where they shared their knowledge of about caring for toads.

In December, Andy Snider, the Curator of Herps and Aquatics at Brookfield Zoo, visited Miller Park to share his knowledge about caring for reptiles.

Collaboration with the community

There are many kinds of collaborations that benefit the zoo and therefore the community.

They include collaborations with businesses, organizations, other zoos, and community members. Here are some examples:

  • A group of State Farm employees helped move endangered plants into the pollinator garden.
  • Local fire departments donate firehoses ready to be retired. The hoses are extremely sturdy and can withstand tough treatment. They are used to make puzzle feeders and other enrichment items.
  • Fort Jesse Imaging Center donated X ray equipment when they acquired new units.
  • Boy Scouts have built outdoor holding pens onto our ZooLab building.
  • Community members have donated from boxes, pumpkins, and old Christmas trees as enrichment items for the animals.
  • Monetary support received from donations, zoo memberships, and animal Zoodoptions allow zoo staff to provide exceptions daily care to our animals.


Miller Park Zoo thrives on collaboration. Individual and team contributions of zoo staff, the community, organizations, and businesses are vital for the health of the animals and the smooth operation of the zoo.

To all of our collaborators - THANK YOU for your support!

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