Z at the zoo

Zinyra expressed an early interest in nature and animals. As any devoted parent would, her mother made sure to provide every opportunity to learn about these topics through books and by visiting the zoo. In fact, it was at Brookfield Zoo that Z spoke her first word (“cat”), while standing in front of a tiger enclosure.

Z circa 2000 at Brookfield Zoo’s Roosevelt Fountain

That love and passion for animals not only grew in Z over the years, but it also led her to reach out and explore opportunities for career development when she was preparing for high school, which in turn led to her own personal and professional growth.

As a youth volunteer, Z was a dedicated student. She connected with guests of all ages, from all backgrounds and ability levels, and taught them to care about animals and their conservation stories. She spent hundreds of hours engaging guests in fun, informal learning experiences and eventually became a peer mentor for other teens in the program.

Z feeding an okapi as part of a volunteer experience at Brookfield Zoo

Her work ethic and passion led her to a paid position in the Hamill Family Play Zoo, working with some of the Zoo’s youngest guests and their families. She now has the opportunity to handle small animals and is responsible for a number of education activities year-round.

Z hard at work at Hamill Family Play Zoo
Z with a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

These experiences led Z to become a spokesperson for many events. In this role, she is able to tell her own story while at the same time advocating for other individuals with disabilities. These conversations continue to make an impact on the Zoo’s inclusion initiatives.

Z speaking at Brookfield Zoo as a Special Olympics Global Messenger



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