Hidden gems you may have missed at Brookfield Zoo

The dolphins, bears and monkeys are always some of Brookfield Zoo’s most popular attractions. But, whether you’ve been a member for years or are just visiting for the first time, there are a few hidden spots and activities that are sure to make your trip more memorable.

Get up close and personal at Habitat Africa! The Forest

If you go

Brookfield Zoo

8400 31st St. Brookfield


Just steps away from the giraffe house, this underappreciated path takes you on a journey to Africa to see many of its native creatures. After you pass the outdoor viewing of the Okapis, (mammals of the giraffe family with zebra-like striped legs) you enter the home of many more exotic animals, including snakes, geckos and even a crocodile. You even get the chance to be within arm’s reach of more Okapis. The pathway continues outside to see the wild hogs and duikers (a species of small antelope) before it takes you to the exit right in front of the giraffes again. It’s definitely a wild experience  not to miss.

Take a walk around the Forest Preserve Nature Trail

Looking to ditch the crowds for a little bit? Right before you enter the underwater viewing area of the bears in the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit, take a leisurely twenty-minute walk around Swan Lake. It’s scenic, peaceful and not usually busy, so it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a taste of nature in a more relaxed setting. You might even be lucky enough to see one of the two trumpeter swans roaming around or spot one of the newly-born Mexican Gray wolf pups in the additional viewing area along the trail.

Check out one of the Zoo Chats

Probably one of the most educational but overlooked activities, zoo chats are a great opportunity to learn more about many of the zoo’s animals, from lions to butterflies. The zoo staff shares a variety of information from what they eat to interesting mannerisms, and they sometimes bring out the animals (mostly the birds) so you can get a closer look . You can even see some of the animals, such as the penguins, being fed,which is a great way to see them in action. Take a look at the leaflet when you get your map at the entrance for the full list of chats.

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