Brookfield Zoo Expanding Space for Apes and Monkeys to Feature Outdoor Habitats + Insider Tips

Museums and Zoos

2022 Summer Exhibit: Ice Age Giants

Ice Age Giants opened to the public on April 1, 2022 and continued through October 30, 2022. This exhibit is free with general zoo admission.

A long, long time ago—2.6 million years to be exact—the Quaternary Ice Age began and continues today. However, it wasn’t until more recently—thousands of years ago—that entire species of enormous animals began to die off around the globe. Even though they are now extinct, guests can experience a time warp like no other and see what it was like to live among these megafauna from April 1 through October 30 at Brookfield Zoo’s temporary exhibit—Ice Age Giants, sponsored by Duly Health and Care.

Experts believe warming temperatures were the demise of the wonambi (pronounced woe-NAM-bee), a giant constrictor that measured between 16 and 20 feet long. Around the world, modern reptiles face similar threats.

Throughout the 216-acre park, guests will encounter more than 30 life-sized animatronic re-creations of giants that once roamed North America and Eurasia, including a 15-foot-tall woolly mammoth, an oafish 20-foot-long giant ground sloth, a 12-foot-tall giant bird, a fearsome 5-foot-long saber-toothed cat, and many more. Adding to the lifelike effects, parts of the animals such as the head, eyes, mouth, and tail move, making the experience even more realistic.

The South American macrauchenia (pronounced mac-rah-KEY-nee-uh) were driven to extinction by migrating species from North America. Fossil evidence suggests newcomers quickly ate the available food and left the macrauchenia hungry and vulnerable to predators. Genetic evidence suggests the macrauchenia was related to modern tapirs, rhinos, and horses.

Youngsters can pretend to be an ice age giant and go inside the 5-foot-long Glyptodon Shell-ter—a great place for a photo op. This giant armored creature, who is a distant prehistoric relative of the modern-day armadillo, measured about 11 feet long from head to tail tip.

Along the pathways, as zoogoers travel back in time some 20,000 years ago during the peak of the Quaternary Period, colorful graphics present fascinating facts about each of the creatures such as where on Earth they once lived, how big they were, and how they compare to their modern relatives—many who are facing their own challenges to survive.

The massive mastodon (pronounced MAS-tuh-dawn), which weighed up to 17,000 pounds, neared extinction about 10,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that diminishing food sources—shrubbery and leaves—due to warming temperatures, made it impossible for the massive animal to survive.

Additional illustrations present a timeline of Earth’s five significant ice ages—Huronian (2.4-2.1 billion years ago), Cryogenian (720-635 million years ago), Andean-Saharan (450-420 million years ago), Late Paleozoic (360-260 million years ago), and Quaternary (2.6 million years ago to present). Also, guests can learn about the theories as to why these behemoths went extinct, including overkilling, climate change, and disease. Even today, the same threats are impacting the survival of many animals like polar bears, Mexican wolves, North American river otters, and  frogs, which can all be seen at Brookfield Zoo.

Admission to Brookfield Zoo, which includes access to Ice Age Giants, is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. To learn more about the temporary exhibit before it goes extinct, visit

Approximately 11,700 years ago, the last teratornis (pronounced ter-run-TOR-nis) soared through the sky. This raptor-like bird with a wingspan between 10½  and 12½  feet wide, needed to fly for extended periods in search of food. Increasing temperatures forced some of the bird’s favorite aquatic foods into deeper waters, forcing the hungry flying giant to search for food on land. However, once that happened, the teratornis was hunted by humans.
The castoroides (pronounced cast-ah-ROY-dez), which measured up to 7½ feet long and could weigh up to 300 pounds, resembled a giant beaver. Across the Midwest, rising temperatures caused struggling plants to adapt. As a result, the castoroides’ normal food source no longer contained enough nutrients to keep its massive body going. Without adequate food sources, the species went extinct about 11,500 years ago.
The smilodon (pronounced SMI-luh-dawn), a saber-toothed cat, pounced to extinction almost 10,000 years ago most likely due to changing climate and the arrival of early humans. Famous for its 11-inch incisors and mouth that opened nearly 180 degrees, this fearsome cat experienced competition for food from humans hunting in their habitat.

2021 Summer Exhibit: Dinos Everywhere!

For the past several years, Brookfield Zoo has had a special summer theme. This year it’s Dinos Everywhere! More than 40 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs are spread throughout the zoo and are huge. Most of them move and make sounds.

If you want to see the best dinosaurs in the most concentrated area, head to Swan Lake, near Habitat Africa! Walk down the paved path through a wooded area and you’ll spot six types of dinosaurs, with both adult and baby dinos.

2019 Summer Exhibit: Brick Safari

Brick Safari at Brookfield Zoo opens this Saturday, May 11 and will be at the zoo through September 29, 2019. While walking down crushed gravel paths lined with trees, you will be amazing by more than 40 life-size animal sculptures created from millions of individual colored LEGO® bricks.

Brookfield Zoo is the first venue in North America to display this international traveling exhibit, which is located next to Wild Encounters. Many of the sculptures are based on some Brookfield Zoo favorites—the giraffe, snow leopard, and pangolin. You will also encounter some animals they would not normally see at Brookfield Zoo, including an elephant holding its trunk high and a giant panda with its playful cubs.

There are also a few photo ops that you won’t want to miss, including sitting in a LEGO jeep, and peeking your head through a scene made of LEGO bricks.

In addition to fascinating kids, those young at heart, and Adult Fans of LEGO® (AFOL), the interactive exhibit will appeal to both science and art lovers, who will have the opportunity to tap into their creative sides. Colorful graphics featuring interesting animal facts and statistics such as the size of each figure, how many bricks were used to build each one, and the amount of time it took to create each sculpture are displayed. My son and I enjoyed trying to guess the time it took, how heavy the sculptures are, and how many bricks they used!

The gift shop near the exhibit’s exit will have a variety of brick-themed items available for purchase. There are also multiple tables set up so you and your kids can build and play with STEM toys and activities, which was fun.

Open during zoo hours, admission to Brick Safari is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Brookfield Zoo members receive half off admission price. General zoo admission is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Park is $14. For further information, visit

2018 Summer Exhibit: Amazing Arachnids

We had the opportunity to check out Amazing Arachnids today, the new exhibit opening this Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Brookfield Zoo. This temporary exhibit will be at the zoo through September 3, 2018. Located in the West Mall, near the Great Bear Wilderness and Tropic World, you will be immersed in the world of spiders. They have over 20 types of tarantulas as well as many other species of arachnids. If you and/or your kids like spiders, you will love this exhibit.

Amazing Arachnids

We learned a lot about arachnids that we had never heard before, such as how often spiders clean themselves. They are actually extremely meticulous creatures and even organize and dispose of their own waste. Spontaneous Zoo Chats take place periodically during Amazing Arachnids so you can meet different species, learn about them, and ask questions.

The information in the Amazing Arachnids tent is divided into three sections: Science, Art, and Culture. In the Science Cube, 34 arachnids are featured, showing deadly spiders in North America and uses for arachnids and silk in medicine. In the Arts Cube, 31 arachnids are showcased, along with the type of spider that starred in “Charlotte’s Web” and references to music references, such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song. Lastly, in the Culture Cube, how different cultures view spiders is explored, along with arachnids as food.

There are also beautiful photographs by the world-renowned German arachnid photographer Julian Kamzol that illustrate the intricacies of spiders that you can’t normally see.

Interactive Exhibits at Amazing Arachnids

As you walk in, you will see a small dance floor with a display and video teaching you how to dance the Tarantella. Learn the history of this folk dance from Italy and give it a try!

There are a few interactive graphic panels, including information about spider silk along with a Kevlar vest, an up close look at fangs, claws, and stingers, and flip panels that illustrate how spiders molt and grow. You can also see how you compare in size to modern day and prehistoric arachnids on a life-sized banner.

A 7-foot-tall spider with a 10-foot leg span that invites you to weave your own web with ropes and carabiners.

At the Arachnid Mobility center you can move a spider forwards and backwards on the screen to observe how they move their legs up close.

There is also a magnetic wall so kids can rearrange arachnid parts to form their body like a puzzle and a dig table where you can uncover spiders while learning facts.

Mission Safari Maze

My kids’ favorite part was the Mission Safari Maze- a 3,500 square foot neon green modular maze. Four giant colorful spinning wheels that highlight 48 missions or tasks that link you to the stories and strengths of 16 species of animals that can all be seen at Brookfield Zoo.

Each animal has a name and they got a kick out of which name it landed on. After spinning the wheel, you move through the maze to discover a climb-on spider web, jungle vines, swinging bars, and a monorail zip line.

Both the Amazing Arachnids tent and Mission Safari Maze are included in the Amazing Arachnids exhibit. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Brookfield Zoo members receive half off admission price. General zoo admission is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Park in $14. For further information, visit

2018 Summer Exhibit: Dinos and Dragons

Today my kids and I had the privilege of previewing Brookfield Zoo’s newest temporary exhibit: Dinos and Dragons, opening this Saturday, May 6 and running until September 17, 2017. Real, live dragons along with kid-friendly interactive exhibits can be found in the large tent at the entrance and you will spot large, animatronic dinosaurs as you walk down a winding path outside. Keep reading to get the inside scoop with photographs and video!

The indoor component of the exhibit has three themed areas: Medieval, Asian, and Paleontology.

Each of the structures has viewing windows where you can observe and learn about different dragons, including the Bearded Dragon, Black-throated Monitor, Crocodile Monitor, European Legless Lizard, Frilled Dragon Iguana, Komodo Dragon, Nile Monitor, Plumed Basilisk, Roughneck Monitor, and Uromastyx Lizard. Some of these reptiles are even animal ambassadors, which means zoo staff periodically takes one of them out so you can see it up close and even pet it!

My kids really enjoyed the interactive exhibits and we spent the most time in that area. There are two opportunities to be a paleontologist. One is a pit full of gravel that you can sit in to search for bones and the other is a table of rubber chips where you use brushes to uncover bones and four golden shovels. It was a fun scavenger hunt! We also played with mini-catapults, launching different sized pom poms to hit a moving or stationary target (your choice). There are also temporary tattoos, a dragon texture rubbing project, and a knight and dragon made out of LEGO bricks.

When you exit the tent you will find a crushed gravel path that winds around a wooded area full of huge animatronic dinosaurs. When you pass by the green sensors, the dinosaurs make noises and move their arms, heads, mouths, and tails with smooth, life-like movements. There are cute herbivores and ferocious carnivores, each with informational signs and games that you can play along the way, including DINOPARDY, Are You Smarter Than a Paleontologist?, and Dino Feud.

After coming to the end of the dinosaur trail and walking through the gift shop, take a quick left to check out the dinosaur dissection lab. You can learn about the parts of a dinosaur body as zoo staff takes out each part and talks about its function.

In addition to the Dinos & Dragons exhibit, zoogoers can enjoy a free, live theatrical show featuring a costumed animatronic dinosaur raptor at the outdoor Stage-o-saurus Theater, just west of Tropic World. The show will be held daily, weather permitting.

Dinos & Dragons is an additional $5 per adult and $3 for children 3-11 and seniors once you are in the zoo. Members receive a 50% discount on these attraction prices.

Popular areas of Brookfield Zoo include Great Bear Wilderness, Hamill Family Play Zoo, Living Coast, Tropic World, and the snow leopard.

You also might be interested in Brookfield Zoo’s Sensory-Friendly Family Room and Resource Center for Guests with Autism and Other Disabilities when indoor buildings open again.

Brookfield Zoo offers special experiences, such as Backstage Adventures as well!

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