Amazing Experience at Brookfield Zoo: Backstage Adventures

Last week my son and I had an amazing experience at Brookfield Zoo! We went behind the scenes with a Backstage Adventure called “Swamp Things.” In The Swamp building we met Mark, a zookeeper at Brookfield Zoo and he brought us through the employee doors and into the backside of the exhibits… and you can do it too! They are even offering Valentine’s specials that allow you to bring a second participant for free. Read about our experience and options that are available below.

Feeding the White-Blotched River Stingrays during our Backstage Adventure

I never knew how many animals they have behind the scenes! There are babies that were born at the zoo and are being raised by zoo staff, animals that were saved from illegal smuggling and are being rehabilitated, and even retired animals that they are caring for. We were were able to hold a Kenyan Sand Boa, which is a beautiful snake, touch a Shingle Back Skink from Australia, and see so many others.

We learned so much about why the zoo chooses the animals it does for exhibits. It’s not just for show; they are making decisions based on conservation and care for these animals so deeply. The experience was invaluable to our understanding of the important work that the zoo does.

Feeding the animals was incredibly exciting. The main two animal feeds that are part of the Swamp Things Backstage Adventure are the Orinoco Crocodiles and North American River Otters, both of which were exhilarating to interact with. It was fun to see the crocodiles so active, swimming around for the food and walking towards us to chomp on their meal. The otters took the fish right from my hand and my son used tongs for safety. Then we were able to watch them swim and play with each other after they ate.

We also had the opportunity to feed Matamata Turtles, White-Blotched River Stingrays, and Red-Bellied Piranhas. Please note that your individual experience may vary with these other animals. The piranhas were well fed, so my son was able to be brave and put his hand in the water with them. That was a story he will be telling for a long time!

Backstage Adventure: Flying Feathered Friends
$75 Member, $100 Nonmember
Valentine’s Special: Bring a 2nd participant FREE!
Birds of a feather flock together in our Flying Feathered Friends Backstage Adventure. Learn about the beauty in our skies as you embark on an adventure in the free flight area of our Reptiles and Birds exhibit. Participants will work with zookeepers as they learn about how we care for and train our feathered friends.

Backstage Adventure: Hanging with the Herps
$75 Member, $100 Nonmember
*Save $25 on your second participant!
The keepers in Feather and Scales will guide you through the fascinating world of frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, amphibians, and reptiles – a.k.a. the herptiles (“Herps” to their friends.) Learn about handling reptiles, how to use a heat sensor to record environmental data, feeding strategies, environmental enrichment, and more! Guaranteed to make you a lizard lover and frog fan.

Backstage Adventure: Swamp Things
$100 Member, $150 Nonmember
Valentine’s Special: Bring a 2nd participant FREE!
Ever feel you were “born on the bayou,” or do you just love swamps? Check out our Backstage Adventures program in The Swamp. Work with keepers as they care for a wide variety of creatures, from swamps around the world, including insects, fish, waterfowl, rodents and otters.

All three of these experiences are for ages 8+ and children ages 8 – 17 must be accompanied by a non-paying adult chaperone.

The logistics of the Backstage Adventures are very well laid out. We received a packet a few days before our reserved time, complete with commonly asked questions, a map, and a wavier so you can be prepared for an amazing experience. On the big day we met the zookeeper in front of the Backstage Adventure sign at the building they indicate.

Click here to book your Backstage Adventure and have so much fun!

One of the Orinoco Crocodile sisters at the Brookfield Zoo. No zoom needed! The crocodiles walked right up to us for their meal.


This post brought to you by Brookfield Zoo.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie and her kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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