Whether you visit Brookfield Zoo for the first time this year or
have walked its paths countless times, you can always find
something new. This summer is no exception. With new exhibits, the
return of favorite animals and more interactive opportunities
scheduled to make their debut, kids of all ages will find plenty of
The opening of Great Bear Wilderness allows visitors to get
right in the faces of bears, bison, wolves and birds. Visitors get
an up-close view of animal behaviors indoors or out. Kids won't
want to miss going hand-to-paw with great grizzlies as the bears
tumble and splash in one of two pools in the underwater viewing
"Great Bear Wilderness presents a lot of complex ideas,
especially about ecological systems and conservation. Interpreters
are there to break down those messages into ways kids can better
understand them," says Andre Copeland, Brookfield's interpretive
For example, a child can use refrigerator magnets to represent
an ecosystem and discover what happens when you remove one
component, such as the wolf.
You may also witness a bear training session. These sessions
allow visitors to see zookeepers in action; plus, the chance to see
a polar bear stand at full height is amazing.
Great Bear Wilderness is free with zoo admission.
video by Liz Hoffman
Opening Memorial Day weekend, more than 40 cow-nose rays will
return to shallow pools of Stingray Bay. In its third year, this
May-September exhibit allows visitors to see and touch live
animals. "Cow-nose rays are best suited to meet our guests'
expectations since they move continuously through the exhibit and
tend to be curious. It's more likely to be a touch experience for
visitors," Copeland says.
Heading north, Butterflies, the zoo's tented butterfly
experience, is also scheduled to open by Memorial Day. With its
natural sunlight and vibrant, colorful flowers and butterflies,
this is a great spot for a quiet, serene experience. Budding
photographers will love trying to capture more than 30 different
species of North American butterflies. Hold very still and you
might become the landing site for one. Copeland reminds visitors
not to touch them, though. "Even the lightest finger stroke can
damage the delicate scales of their wings."
Stingray Bay, Butterflies, Children's Zoo and Hamill Family Play
Zoo all have ticket pricing in addition to general admission.
Tickets can be purchased individually or through an All-in-One
ticket for the day.
After a six-month visit in Minnesota, Brookfield Zoo's dolphins
are back. Topeka, her two daughters and a new friend named Spree
are all enjoying their renovated digs at Seven Seas. Dolphin shows
are scheduled to resume around Memorial Day and audience members
might notice new scenery and a new flow to the show.
"Attitudes, behaviors and even pop culture have changed the way
we view dolphins. The new underwater viewing area reflects that
history," Copeland says. The zoo has also added more modern
While underwater viewing is free with zoo admission, Dolphin
Shows are ticketed separately. Show times and ticket prices are
posted at all ticket counters.
Zookeepers and Zoo Interpreters are busy throughout the day
making the zoo a more enriching experience. Copeland shares some of
his secrets for surprising experiences:
If you visit The Living Coast in the afternoons, you might be
lucky enough to witness the hand-feeding of the exhibit's Humboldt
Penguins, which usually happens between 3:15 and 3:45 p.m.
Likewise, you're most likely to find keepers working with the
animals at Pinneped Point either 20 minutes before or after a
If you see an interpreter with a cart, animal skins or a bug
box, stop a minute to listen and touch. You never know what you'll
learn during your visit.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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