Visit Chicago Illinois
Visit Chicago Illinois
Hippopotamus at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

Brookfield Zoo of Chicago

8400 31st Street

Brookfield, Illinois 60513

(708) 688-8000

Written by Julie Greiner
The Brookfield Zoo is just a short drive (12 miles west) from downtown Chicago. This is one of the country's premier zoos, with more than 2,800 animals in near natural habitats on some 216 acres. The exhibits range from representing the western coast of South America to the eastern African
arid savannahs. The mission of this beautiful Brookfield Zoo is to help people develop a sustainable and harmonious relationship with nature.

History of the Brookfield Zoo

In 1919 Edith Rockefeller McCormick donated 83 acres of land to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Illinois for the sole purpose of developing a zoo. The Forest Preserve added additional acreage and after years of failed economy and delays - the zoo became a reality in 1934. The Brookfield Zoo became world renowned for its "barless" exhibits, with the use of natural barriers such
Guinea Pig Up Front and Close at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago
as as moats.

Su-lin, Mei-mei and Mei-lan, the Giant Pandas

The Brookfield Zoo was first in the United States to have a Giant Panda Exhibit. In 1960 the first inland dolphinarium was built and this progressed to Tropic World, which is a huge indoor immersion rain-forest exhibit with waterfalls and thunderstorms. Tropic World was the first of its kind in the world.

Exhibits at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

You may safari to the savannah and observe zebras, aardvarks giraffes and African wild dogs. The Living Coast exhibit holds penguins, green sea turtles and Humboldt penguins from the coldest of waters. The Swamp exhibit shows alligators, aquatic birds and otters... to mention a
few. A Motor Safari tour of the zoo on an open-air tram (in winter a heated bus) is available. The Children's Zoo exhibits consists of a barnyard petting zoo with a cow milking demonstration to an Atlantic bottlenose dolphins presentation in the 2,000 seat Dolphinarium. This Dolphinarium is no small show by any means and an under-water viewing area is included. You will wander through an African desert and an Asian rain-forest in the Fragile Kingdom and then on to a peaceful nature trail stroll through Salt Creek.
Zebra Family at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

Dining at the Brookfield Zoo

The Ituri Cafe is named after the Ituri Rain Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is recreated in the zoo's newest exhibit - Habitat Africa. There is an outdoor playground, outdoor seating and a choice of cuisine such as the Forest Children's AniMeals in flavors of "Top of the Trees Macaroni & Cheese, Wild Burgers and Pirate Pizza." This cafe is seasonal, weather permitting. The La Gran Cocina eatery is located in the South American Marketplace near the Living Coast exhibit. Fresh salad and fruit bar, stir-fry dishes, grilled chicken and steak sandwiches, pizza and desserts are among the offerings. Inside seating is available and outside with weather permitting.

The Brookfield Zoo is open every day of the year and is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society. As the Zoo has progressed and grown it has gained recognition as a conservation center with programs in population genetics, animal nutrition, behavioral studies and ecological restoration. For further information call: 808-485-0263 or log on at:

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015