AAA Editor Notes
Brookfield Zoo, at 8400 W. 31st St., is accessible by Eisenhower or Stevenson expwys. (I-290 or I-55) First Ave. exit or the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Ogden Ave. exit. The 216-acre zoo contains an exceptional collection of mammals, birds and reptiles in cageless enclosures that simulate their natural habitats.
Great Bear Wilderness, a 7.5-acre habitat, features polar bears, grizzly bears, bald eagles and bison. A highlight is an underwater viewing area where visitors can watch the antics of bears swimming in the water. Regenstein Wolf Woods in Great Bear Wilderness is a 2-acre habitat housing a pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves. A viewing gallery lined with one-way glass panels affords guests a close look at the wolves, and video cameras enhance opportunities for observation. The Living Coast is a re-creation of the western coasts of Chile and Peru complete with small sharks, Humboldt penguins and Inca terns. The Swamp features egrets, snapping turtles, crocodiles and river otters from swamp and river ecosystems. Habitat Africa! The Savannah is shared by giraffes, endangered painted dogs, red river hogs, and exotic birds and reptiles.
Fragile Kingdom reveals how animals in Africa and Asia depend on their environments and one another to survive in harsh conditions. Walk along the Big Cats walkway to watch tigers, African lions and leopards. Seven Seas includes a 2,000-seat indoor dolphinarium where dolphins perform daily. Near the building is a re-creation of a rocky Pacific Northwest seascape called Pinniped Point, which features gray seals, harbor seals and sea lions. Hamill Family Wild Encounters provides an opportunity to interact with species from all over the world, including Bennett's wallabies, parakeets, emus and reindeer, and narrative illustrations, art and sculptures and hands-on activities highlight connections between animals and people. In Tropic World, a pathway overlooking pools and waterfalls allows visitors to view rainforest animals coexisting amid 50-foot-tall trees, including spider monkeys, orangutans, gibbons and gorillas.
Salt Creek Wilderness has a lake, a nature trail, a boardwalk and a representation of a northeastern Illinois wetland. Trumpeter swans and other native wildlife can be seen. Australia House has a Walkabout exhibit with southern hairy-nosed wombats and Rodrigues fruit bats. Habitat Africa! The Forest presents okapi and dwarf crocodiles. A butterfly house and Stingray Bay, a saltwater touch pool, are available seasonally.
A Motor Safari tram provides guided tours of the zoo early spring through late fall. The free Snowball Express shuttle bus runs between the exhibit buildings late fall through early spring. Children can touch animals, build habitats, examine animal X-Rays, plant gardens and discover insects at the Hamill Family Play Zoo. A carousel features hand-carved animal figures.
Animal encounter programs are offered by advance reservation.
Guided tours are available. Food is available.