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.
Clouded Leopard Rain Forest 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 dolphin presentations can be seen. Near the building is a re-creation of a rocky Pacific Northwest seascape called Pinniped Point, which features gray 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, llamas, 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, kangaroo and Rodrigues fruit bats. Habitat Africa! The Forest presents okapi and dwarf crocodiles. A butterfly house is available seasonally.
A Motor Safari tram provides guided tours of the zoo early spring through late fall. 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.
Zoo $21.95; $15.95 (ages 3-11 and 65+); free (military with ID and to all Tues. and Thurs., Oct.-Dec.). Motor Safari, Dolphins in Action or Hamill Family Wild Encounters $5; $3 (ages 3-11 and 65+). Butterflies! or The Carousel $3. Hamill Family Play Zoo $3; free (Nov.-Feb.). Prices for individual exhibits may vary; phone ahead. Combination tickets and a season pass are available.
Zoo open daily 9:30-6, Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day; Mon.-Fri. 10-5, Sat.-Sun. 10-6, day after Labor Day-late Oct.; daily 10-5, rest of year. All indoor animal exhibits close 30 minutes before the zoo; Tropic World closes 45 minutes before the zoo.