Animals, Amusement, Architecture, Art, and an Arboretum are all in store for you at the Brookfield Zoo! This local landmark can be considered an American Icon and institution. Since 1934, the 216 acres of Cook County Forest Preserve land that makes up the Chicago Zoological Park has been home to numerous ground breaking and record setting events gaining it international recognition. The first giant pandas in the United States were here. It was the first zoo to use moats and ditches to separate the animals from guests instead of cages. The first fully indoor dolphin exhibit in the nation was added here in 1960. And Tropic World was added in the 1980’s as the world’s largest indoor zoo exhibit and rain forest simulation.
450 species of animals live at the zoo. And while many might view the zoo as just a place to display exotic animals, Brookfield Zoo is actually a research and conservation facility. A full veterinary hospital is on site to ensure all the animals are healthy and their breeding programs for some endangered species have been successful. Brook field Zoo was home to the first black rhinoceros born in captivity in 1941, the first okapi born in the United States in 1959 and, in 1975, the first wombat born outside of Australia.
The largest non-restored had carved carousel in the nation is the largest Amusement at Brookfield Zoo. It features 72 animals, some highly endangered, and three stationary animal chariots. “Motor Safari” is a tram system that circles the park. One ticket allows you to ride all day and is a great way to get around the park. And don’t forget the “Mold-A-Rama”- A long time zoo favorite that makes wax animal figures while you wait.
Many of Brookfield Zoo’s original buildings are still in use. These stately Architectural gems have been repurposed over the years into immersion exhibits based on ecosystems. These are now home to the Swamp, the Fragile rainforest, the Fragile Desert, the Living Coast, the African Savanna and the Australian House.
Art is everywhere at the zoo. From murals and mosaics to statues and fountains, don’t miss the large bronze statue of Olga near the sea mammal exhibit. From 1962 until 1988, Olga was a favorite at Brookfield Zoo always entreating with her antics. Also not to be missed (and you can’t miss it) is the majestic Theodore Roosevelt Fountain. The fountain’s spouting water can reach 60 feet high and is a show stopper.
While you visit Brookfield Zoo, don’t forget it is on Cook County Forest Preserve land. Trees abound and few people realize the zoo is also an accredited Arboretum making Brookfield Zoo a conservation and research hub for all types of living things.
Brookfield Zoo is open every day of the year and there are special events and programs continually. Brick Safari features more than 40 life-size animal sculptures created from millions of individual colored LEGO® bricks! The menagerie of animals will be located along a winding, wooded pathway on the east side of the park, and many of the sculptures are based on some Brookfield Zoo favorites, such as the lion, giraffe, snow leopard, and pangolin. Summer Nights Concerts are Fridays and Saturdays June 21 through August10. Live music, a beer and wine garden, roaming performers, animal ambassadors and a new laser light show all surrounded by wildlife and nature combine for an amazing evening.