Brookfield Zoo. Zoo in Chicago, Illinois

Brookfield Zoo

Zoo in Chicago, Illinois

Brookfield Zoo Chicago 131 Photo © Michael Kappel

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Brookfield Zoo

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Brookfield Zoo is a popular Chicago tourist attraction located in the suburb of Brookfield. The 216-acre zoo is run by the Chicago Zoological Society, and is known for its early use of natural features such as moats and ditches to separate animals instead of cages. Some of its most famous exhibits include its indoor dolphin exhibit, which was the first of its kind in the United States, and its indoor rainforest exhibit, which was the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the world when it opened. If you love animals, then you’ll certainly want to visit this wonderful zoo.


The Brookfield Zoo first opened in 1934, and was built on land donated by Edith Rockefeller McCormick, daughter of American businessman and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller (Wikipedia Article). Ever since, it has been one of the most popular attractions in the Chicago area. One of its most famous residents was Su Lin, the first giant panda ever to live outside of China, who came to the zoo in 1937 and can now be seen in a display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


The zoo has over a dozen unique animal exhibits to explore, where you can see lions, tigers, bears, and more.

Feathers and Scales

It might seem like an odd pairing, but both lizards and birds can be traced back to the dinosaurs. There are tons of exciting creatures from around the world that fly, jump, and crawl in this exhibit, including condors and blue poison frogs.

Australia House

This exhibit allows you to explore the wildlife of Australia, including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, and emus.

Habitat Africa!

This is where you’ll find African animals like okapi, giraffes, and aardvarks in savannah and forest habitats.

Fragile Desert & Fragile Rainforest

The Fragile Desert exhibit is home to cute animals like meerkats, bat-eared foxes, and black-footed cats, while the adjacent Fragile Rainforest features Asian animals like the fishing cat and the colorful rsquirrel.

Pachyderm House

If you’ve never seen an adorable pygmy hippo before, you won’t want to miss this exhibit. It’s also home to tapirs and rhinos.

Great Bear Wilderness

Iconic animals native to the Americas such as bald eagles, grizzly bears, American bison, and polar bears can be found in this huge exhibit.

Big Cats

This long walkway features majestic felines such as tigers, lions, leopards, and snow leopards.

Hoofed Animals

Another long walkway is home to hoofed animals like zebras, camels, and addax.

Living Coast

This huge aquarium exhibit is home to fish, sharks, and an immensely popular colony of Humboldt penguins.

Pinniped Point

California sea lions, harbor seals, and gray seals all glide around the water and sunbathe in this exhibit.

Tropical World

One of the most popular exhibits, Tropical World is home to primates from Asia, South America, and Africa. Its lively residents include gibbons, spider monkeys, orangutans, tamarins, and gorillas.


In addition to the many animal exhibits that are included in the general admission price, visitors can check out several extra attractions for an additional fee.

Dolphins in Action

If you love dolphins, you won’t want to miss this educational show which teaches visitors all about how dolphins communicate and demonstrates their impressive agility.

Hamill Family Play Zoo

This popular children’s attraction allows young guests to have hands-on experiences with animals, do crafts, pretend to be a zookeeper, dress up as a lemur, and have tons of fun while learning about nature.

Stingray Bay

The Stingray Bay attraction is home to 50 beautiful cownose rays that visitors of all ages are welcome to look at and gently touch as they glide around the water.


Each summer, visitors can explore this fascinating exhibit where dozens of species of beautiful North American butterflies fly around an environment filled with plants and flowers. Its pupa room is especially interesting, since it allows you to watch as caterpillars transform into gorgeous butterflies.

The Carousel

This gorgeous, hand-carved, wooden carousel is one of the largest in the United States, with over 70 animals to choose from.

Practical Information

While it may be easiest to reach the Brookfield Zoo by car, there are public transportation options that can get you there, especially if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on parking. Pace bus routes 304 and 331 both stop outside the zoo’s South Gate, while the Metra commuter rail’s Burlington Northern Line has a stop just two blocks away, which is called Zoo Stop (Hollywood Station).

Address: 8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513


Open daily from 10:00 until 17:00, with extended hours until 18:00 on weekends.


General zoo admission costs approximately $ 17 USD for adults (anyone over 12) and $ 12 USD for seniors and children (ages 3 to 11). Attractions such as Dolphins in Action and the Hamill Family Play Zoo each cost an additional $ 3.00 USD to $ 5.00 USD .


If you’re on a tight budget, the Brookfield Zoo often has free admission days, so check their website before you visit to find out when they’re scheduled. An alternative attraction is the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago’s popular Lincoln Park, which is always free.

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Author: ehuttner. Last updated: May 12, 2015

Pictures of Brookfield Zoo

Grace and beauty - Brookfield Zoo
Grace and beauty - Brookfield Zoo. Photo by Valerie


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