Brookfield Zoo is your portal to a world that previously seemed untouchable – especially when living in the midwest. Brookfield Zoo has been offering the chance to connect with wildlife on a much more intimate level since 1934.
Their vast selection of attractions, accompanied by regular events, will keep your interest peaked.
Your Guide To Brookfield Zoo
There is such a long list of activities to do at the Brookfield Zoo that it has been very hard to not write a novel. The zoo caters to everyone from small children with the Hamill Family Play Area, to adults with their Summer Nights program that involves an evening surrounded by nature while indulging in upscale dining, live music, as well as beer and wine options – children’s entertainment will also be provided.
Here is a little taste of what yours days can encompass – I do not want to give away all of the surprises!
The animal exhibits are exquisite. Many of areas look to be plucked from the ground and compiled here at the zoo.
If you have time, all the exhibits are worth looking at – if you are limited, be sure to not miss out these exhibits:
Must See – Children 10 & Under
Hamill Family Play Zoo
Hamill Family Play Zoo is a unique adventure where children and their families can play and interact with animals, plants, and people in developmentally appropriate settings. The purpose is to help young children, specifically infants to 10-year-olds, develop caring attitudes toward the natural world. In this technological age, when children have frequent exposure to computers and television, the Play Zoo offers captivating experiences that are unique to playing in nature-related settings. Children can touch animals, build habitats, examine animal X-rays, plant gardens, dress up in animal costumes, discover insects, and more. While children are playing, parents, grandparents, and caregivers are welcome
to rest on soft, sculpted rocks or a simulated log bench.
The Swamp features the mystery and splendor of unique swamp ecosystems, including a South American swamp and an Illinois river scene. This naturalistic, mixed-species exhibit immerses guests in an environment in which they can see the animals that live in wetlands and can appreciate the complex interworkings of these systems. It also demonstrates the many benefits humans derive, directly and indirectly, from natural systems and encourages people to actively protect them. As guests enter the exhibit, they hear distant animal calls. The walkway, which is made of recycled rubber, gives a squishy feeling like being in a swamp. The first animals that guests encounter are several bird species snowy egrets, boat-billed herons, and sun bitterns wading in the shallow water. Further along, zoogoers can view Orinoco crocodiles, false water cobras, Amazon tree boas, and a variety of freshwater fish native to South America, including piranhas. An old sawmill is home to various invertebrates such as black widow spiders and red-headed centipedes, as well as bull snakes. An overlook area features several species of waterfowl, as well as a great egret and green heron. An Illinois river system showcases several species of fish native to Illinois and an alligator snapping turtle. North American river otters can be seen diving and swimming nearby.
Zoo guests of all ages can enjoy riding The Carousel, a handcarved wooden carousel one of the largest of its kind. The fully accessible attraction features 72 animals, some highly endangered, as well as three stationary animal-themed chariots. The Carousel has everything from anteaters to zebras, including dolphins, elephants, lions, tigers, flamingos, ladybugs, polar bears, and penguins. Each animal figure is meticulously handcarved from sustainable basswood and then intricately painted. In addition to charming guests of all ages, The Carousel inspires riders to want to learn more about the animals the ones that live
at Brookfield Zoo.
Must See – Everyone
Great Bear Wilderness
The naturalistic, 7.5-acre Great Bear Wilderness features North America s most iconic species: polar bears, grizzly bears, Mexican gray wolves, bison, and bald eagles. Throughout the national park-like experience, guests can learn about the animals past, present, and future, their deep cultural significance, and the survival challenges they face. Guests are able to view bison in a 1.5-acre prairie setting and bald eagles in an outdoor aviary, followed by Mexican gray wolves. The three bear habitats each have a pool that contains between 78,000 to 80,000 gallons of water. From an underwater viewing gallery, zoogoers can see into two of the pools. The third features a 15-foot-high
waterfall that cascades into three connected pools.
Tropic World, one of the world’s largest indoor mixed-species zoo exhibits, represents the rain-forest regions of South America, Asia, and Africa. Guests walk a pathway overlooking pools and waterfalls to view the animals coexisting amid 50-foot trees. Along the walkways, guests can view a variety of monkey species, an anteater, orangutans, white-cheeked gibbons, small-clawed otters, and a family of western lowland gorillas, as well as a variety of bird species. Thunderstorms occur periodically, but the animals are the only ones that get wet.
Seven Seas features a 1,600-seat indoor stadium, where guests can enjoy daily dolphin experiences. A spectacular underwater viewing gallery also gives guests the opportunity to watch these charismatic marine mammals. The four interconnected pools hold more than one million gallons of saltwater. Adjacent to the stadium is Pinniped Point, which replicates the Pacific Northwest and is home to the zoo s harbor seals, sea lions, and gray seals.
The Living Coast
The Living Coast takes guests on an underwater journey (without getting wet!) along a winding path, where they encounter a variety of fish, invertebrates, and birds representing several ecosystems from around the world. Animals that can be viewed include corals, leopard sharks, bass, African cichlids, pot- bellied seahorse, upside-down jellyfish, eels, and vampire bats, among others. In addition, the exhibit features two colonies of Humboldt penguins.
Imagine visiting Big Cats and finding an African lion lounging on the rocks, just inches away from the gasps of visitors. His roar can often be heard resounding in the afternoon sun. Tigers prowl and splash in their stream, perhaps following a scented trail. The shaggy brown sloth bear blends in with the shade, while Amur leopards and snow leopards perch gracefully overhead.The exhibit is part of The Fragile Kingdom, an area made up of three very different habitats featuring an array of animals some familiar and others unusual. Look in the trees, on the ground, and in the shadows to find incredible species that are able to survive in harsh conditions.
Brookfield Zoo Seasonal Events:
Brookfield Zoo’s seasonal events provide a welcome change of pace to normal outings. They also provide experiences that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Viva la Fiesta! – June
Viva la Fiesta! is a multiday celebration of Hispanic culture, authentic cuisine, refreshments, music, and
dancing. The festivities feature local and international musical talent along with Hispanic artists and
artisans and their eclectic works. The festival atmosphere offers entertainment for guests of all ages and
Father s Day BBQ
Bring Dad to Brookfield Zoo for a fun Father s Day celebration featuring all of his barbecue favorites! Enjoy a complete, all-you-can-eat buffet that includes baby back ribs, chicken, a carving station, corn on the cob and other grilled vegetables, delicious homemade apple cobbler, and more. The barbecue takes place in the zoo s Pavilions from noon to 2:00 p.m. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Pricing, which includes zoo admission, is $49.95 for adults and $35.95 for children 3-11 (zoo members pay $39.95 and $29.95, respectively). Children 2 and under eat for free. To make reservations, visit www.CZS.org/Events or call (708) 688-8355.
Summer Nights – Fridays and Saturdays until 9 p.m. from June – July
This summer, guests can enjoy the cooler evening weather while chilling out Friday and Saturday nights at Brookfield Zoo s Summer Nights. Enjoy a wide variety of live music [beginning at 6:45p.m.] and entertainment, and choose from an assortment of food and refreshment options while relaxing and surrounded by the coolest animals and some of the most beautiful landscapes. Summer Nights will also feature kids activities and, as the sun sets, the evening will be topped off with a spectacular laser, light, and video show.
Summer Nights offers guests a distinctive selection of dining options at Stingray Bay Grill Outdoor Caf featuring gourmet sandwiches, specialty grilled items, a variety of sweet summer treats, and your favorite beers and tropical drinks. At the nearby Bayside Beer & Wine Garden, guests may select from a wide range of wines and craft beers with a choice of food pairings, including seasonal fresh fruit and cheese plates. This event is so much more than what is listed here. With themes and music revolving, each week is a new experience.
World Giraffe Day
On the longest day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is celebrating the tallest animal: giraffes. World Giraffe Day also happens to be the birthday of the zoo s youngest giraffe, Potoka, who is turning one. Fun-filled activities include special Zoo Chats about giraffes and giraffe-themed crafts and activities.
Chicago White Sox Day – July 22
Current White Sox players and Southpaw the mascot will be signing autographs during the celebration of the South Side s favorite team. Players names will be announced closer to the event date. Guests will be allowed to have one item signed and should bring their own item to be signed (photos will not be provided).
Zoo Brew – August
Zoo Brew is a unique 21-and-over beer-tasting event featuring over 60 beers. Guests can enjoy live music and bid on silent auction items, including branded beer tenders, specialty
brews, and more.
Kratt Brothers – August 23-24
Chris and Martin Kratt from their PBS show Wild Kratts will be bringing their adventures to Brookfield Zoo for two days of fun as they teach youngsters about rare wildlife behaviors. Their Amazon Adventure show will take place on the zoo s West Mall at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Additionally, they will be signing autographs for guests from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each day. The show is free with regular zoo admission of $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10.
Zoo Run Run for the Conservation Fund – September 21
Amble like an aardvark or dash like a painted dog at Brookfield Zoo s Zoo Run Run for the Conservation Fund. Proceeds from the race benefit the Chicago Zoological Society s Conservation Fund. Participants can register for a 5K chip-timed run or a 5K fun run/walk and are welcome to register as an individual or form a race team. The more funds raised, the more prizes won! Pricing is as follows: early bird (through June 30) is $30 for the chip-timed race and $25 for the fun run/walk; regular registration (July 1 through September 20) is $35 for the chip-timed race and $30 for the fun run/walk; day of race (September 21) is $40 for the chip-timed race and $35 for the fun run/walk.
Boo! at the Zoo – October 18-19 and 25-26
Boo! at the Zoo provides a haunting good time for families at Brookfield Zoo. The not-so-scary event features a 7,000-square-foot corn maze, a hay ride, a costume parade, and Halloween-themed crafts and activities. In addition, there will be special animal Zoo Chats about some of the zoo s creatures.
Holiday Magic – December
Holiday Magic features more than one million twinkling lights, animated light displays, and a laser light show. Many of the zoo s exhibits will be open so zoogoers can visit their favorite animals. In addition, there will be a full schedule of nightly music and entertainment, professional ice-carving demonstrations, Zoo Chats, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and costumed characters, and much more.
Guest service facilities include seven restaurants, 11 concession stands, six gift shops, and souvenir stands. In addition, the zoo has picnic areas, several water features, two playgrounds, and a handcarved wooden carousel that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests a day. Additionally, there are outdoor Pavilions and other banquet facilities that may be rented out for private functions such as picnics, company outings, family reunions, and weddings.
Brookfield Zoo is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with summer hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day) of 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on Sundays). Indoor animal exhibits close one half hour before the zoo closes. The zoo has extended hours during winter special events.
8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513