Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo is a fun-filled activity for families, couples, and the young at heart. With over 2,400 animals on-site, you’ll see majestic beasts, stunning sea creatures, and creepy critters. Allied Plumbing & Heating Supply Co’s guide to a day at the Brookfield Zoo, so you don’t miss any must-see sights.

Animals at the Brookfield Zoo

Start your day in Habitat Africa! The Kopje to visit savannah-dwelling creatures large and small. Here, you’ll see iconic favorites like sky-scraping reticulated giraffes and horned nyala antelopes. You might even come face to face with some new friends who are less renowned but just as remarkable, like the gerenuk, a graceful, long-necked gazelle, and the dwarf mongoose, a furry friend who’s small but mighty. In Habitat Africa! In the Forest, you’ll find creatures native to Africa who prefer to live beneath the trees, like the okapi, also known as the zebra giraffe, and the African dwarf crocodile.

Head to Great Bear Wilderness to see some of the largest and furriest friends around, like the grizzly bear and the polar bear. Don’t forget to look up. You might see a bald eagle soaring overhead. For more fluffy four-legged creatures, visit the Big Cats exhibit, which features the king of the jungle, the African lion, and the majestic snow leopard. Get the down-under experience in the Australia House exhibit, where residents include Australia’s iconic western gray kangaroo and the continent’s biggest native bird, the emu.

If you have a reptile fan in the family, visit the Reptiles and Birds exhibit next to see the Jamaican iguana, the reticulated python, and the yellow-headed dart poison frog. Snakes and lizards aren’t for everyone, so there are plenty of colorful winged birds, like the paradise tanager, to keep your attention. The Tropic World exhibit is home to more beloved favorites, like the western lowland gorilla, the orangutan, and the two-toed sloth.

The Desert’s Edge exhibit is a must-see for cat people, as you’ll find the black-footed cat. The smallest cat in Africa, it might look like a domesticated house cat, but it’s actually a wild cat native to African grasslands and deserts. In the desert, you might also find the fluffy-tailed bat-eared fox and the energetic and sociable meerkat.

Attractions To Catch at the Zoo

Exhibits aren’t the only way to get up close and personal with some of the planet’s most spectacular creatures at Brookfield Zoo. The facility is also home to a host of interactive attractions, so you’ll never be bored.

A day at the zoo is never complete without a dolphin show. Dolphins in Action is equal parts theatrical and educational. You and your family can learn about how dolphins live, support each other, and meet their needs while watching these smart and athletic creatures splash in and out of the water. Dolphins in Action runs twice per day on weekdays and three times per day on weekends. It costs $6 for adults, $3 for children, and $4 for seniors.

The Hamill Family Play Zoo is an engaging environment where young kids can explore and learn with hands-on interactive activities in this free award-winning attraction. The Hamill Family Wild Encounters attraction is a ticketed opportunity that might be more suitable for older kids, as it involves petting, touching, and playing with live animals. This 3-acre facility is home to birds, goats, llamas, and pandas, and experts lead educational Zoo Chats about animal science regularly.

If you need some rest but don’t want to sacrifice any valuable animal time, hop on the Motor Safari. You and your family can cruise through the zoo with the help of a tour guide. On the safari, you can learn special information about the zoo’s history, the Chicago Zoological Society, and the animals on the premises. For another seated attraction, head to the carousel, where your little one can climb aboard a hand-carved replica favorite animal for a peaceful ride.

Upcoming Events at the Brookfield Zoo

The Brookfield Zoo hosts a number of special events for community members to connect, explore, and celebrate. It’s a little late to visit the Ice Age, but this year, Brookfield Zoo is taking you as close as you can get to some of the Ice Age’s extinct creatures with Ice Age Giants, a collaboration with Dino Don Inc. The event features larger-than-large animatronic versions of prehistoric beasts like the mastodon, the wooly mammoth, and the giant bird. You can size up the Ice Age Giants through the end of October.

Brookfield Zoo is also one of the best places in the Chicagoland area to celebrate the holidays with family, friends, and neighbors. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday between Oct. 8 and Oct. 23 for Boo! at the Zoo, a Halloween event filled with spooky decorations and seasonal treats. You can even dress your little ones up in their Halloween costumes. After Halloween wraps up, the zoo transforms again for the winter holidays. Stop by on one of the following dates for the zoo’s annual glittering holiday lights festival:

  • Nov. 25 to Nov. 27.
  • Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
  • Dec. 7 to Dec. 11.
  • Dec. 14 to Dec. 18.
  • Dec. 26 to Dec. 31.

Plan Your Visit to the Brookfield Zoo

The Brookfield Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. You can purchase tickets and a parking pass online ahead of time to make your visit smoother. Plus, add on extras like the dolphin show, live animal encounters, or carousel rides online. Exhibit and attraction availability may vary from day to day depending on factors like weather. Don’t worry about packing snacks, as there are restaurants, food trucks, and snack stands throughout the park.

An afternoon at the Brookfield Zoo is the perfect way for Chicagoland families to bond, learn, and enjoy the outdoors. If you have any tips about maximizing your experience at the Brookfield Zoo, let us know. If you’re a Chicago homeowner, let Allied Plumbing & Heating Supply Co help you prepare for the winter ahead and build the kitchen or bathroom you’ve always wanted.

Photo Credit: Zebra head by Joseph Gage is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0