In fact, Brookfield Zoo was the first to incorporate the use of moats and ditches to separate animals and exhibits from each other, and was also the first zoo in the world to have an enclosed dolphin exhibit. We may take these milestones for granted now, as they are more common for most zoo exhibits today, but Brookfield has always been a pioneer in the zoo world.
Built on 216 acres of land that was gifted by Edith Rockefeller McCormick in the early 1900s, the zoo made its official grand opening on July 1, 1934. By September of that year, Brookfield Zoo had already seen one million visitors—a true testament to the zoo and its unique aesthetic. Brookfield was the first zoo in America to exhibit giant pandas and has had many a celebrity animal throughout its seven decades of operation. Brookfield Zoo has made a name for itself internationally, which makes it even more remarkable that we are all able to have such a wonderful gem in our very own backyard.
Brookfield Zoo has always made sure that their exhibits are educational and exciting for their visitors, always incorporating the latest technology and care to make sure that their 450 animal species are protected and looked after with the utmost care. Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Zoological Society have made it their goal to have first-rate conservation, preservation, and veterinary care on-site and available to the entire zoo.
Following the success of the zoo’s most recent naturalistic habitat, Great Bear Wilderness, in 2010, Brookfield Zoo will be debuting their summer exhibit Xtreme Bugs on May 19 of this year. The zoo, never one to skimp on showmanship and education, has installed 22 giant animatronic bugs situated on a winding trail throughout the zoo. Designed to educate and possibly intimidate zoo patrons, the giant bugs, including a fluttering Monarch butterfly, have been installed to give zoo-goers an up close and personal experience with the
While, not for the weak of heart, the exhibit is not here just to scare the more squeamish patrons. The Xtreme Bugs exhibit aims to educate and debunk myths and rumors about insects that have been the cause of many fears and hesitations toward the small critters. Along with the large animatronic bugs, there will be 150 large, stationary insects styled into six different themes, allowing guests to observe various activities including bees pollinating and spiders hunting—things nearly impossible to witness with the
What may be some of the crowning features of Brookfield Zoo are the resources the zoo allots to the animals and the time and energy given to make sure each one is in its ideal environment and setting. By being a patron of the zoo this summer, not only are you expanding the minds of your young explorers, but you are also becoming a part of their effort to continue the wonderful conservation and preservation of our world’s species, including insects, of course!
For information about Brookfield Zoo’s exhibits and visiting hours, visit brookfieldzoo.org
— Kendall McKinven