Have an unforgettable experience up-close with animals this summer! Brookfield Zoo is opening a new exhibit called “Hamill Family Wild Encounters” on July 1, 2015. Brookfield Zoo invited us for a preview and my kids and I were in awe of the exhibit. The experiences are amazing, the grounds are beautiful and it’s both informative and artfully done. We highly recommend that you check it out!
Christopher Family Plaza
The center of the exhibit is called the Christopher Family Plaza, where you can see many of the zoo’s animal ambassadors as staff talk about them in this informal setting. The plaza is captivating with its three kinesthetic artwork pieces by Andrew Carson. The one-of-a-kind pieces of art, which range from 10 to 14 feet high, are made of metal and brilliant shapes of glass that spin and rotate with the slightest breeze. The sculptures are captivating!
Thirty Nigerian dwarf goats roam the goat area. There are hand brushes at the entrance so you can have the opportunity to brush them. They love it! One of the goats actually closed it’s eyes while my daughter was brushing it. So cute. The goats range from 7 months to 1 1/2 years old and are the perfect size for kids to interact with. But be sure to tuck in your shoe laces because the goats love to explore with their mouths!
You also can feed the goats from the outside of the fenced in area with the purchase of grain. I often wonder if it is healthy for them to be eating all of those pellets all day long, but it’s actually part of their diet and has been factored into their feeding regiment, so you are actually participating in their healt!
There are hand sanitizing stations at the exit of the goat area, as well as bathrooms directly next to that portion of the exhibit.
Llamas, Alpacas, Reindeer and Red Pandas
Llamas and alpacas interact with guests throughout the day during walks and grooming demonstrations. Although they are behind a fenced in area, you are able to get really close to these interesting animals.
You also have the opportunity to observe reindeer and two female pandas in two separate areas in that section of the exhibit. Just like the llamas and alpacas, you can get very close to the fencing. Did you know that both male and female reindeer have antlers? The zoo staff roams around the exhibit to answer questions and tell you fun facts about the animals. My kids asked a lot of questions and they were so friendly and knowledgable. I think being able to see the animals so close really piqued their interest and curiosity, which is so great!
Bennett’s Wallabies and Emus
21 wallabies roam the space and you can walk along the path and watch them up-close. You also have the opportunity to feed the animals with the purchase of grain along the path. The zoo is also planning to add 4 emus to the exhibit in the near future. The animals are outside all day unless there are thunderstorms or the temperatures are below zero, so you are guaranteed to be able to fully experience them in the environment.
This was such a unique experience! Where else do you get to walk around and witness these beautiful animals hopping around in the glass and feeding on leaves right next to you?! It felt like we were taking a walk in the wild and happened upon these cute little wallabies. So cool.
The parakeet building was my kids’ favorite spot. There are currently 350 parakeets, with 700 total by the end of the summer. The zoo is breeding them and the plan is to have up to 900 in the building! The birds were of varying colors and very friendly. There are seed sticks at the entrance that you can buy for $2 each and the birds love them- I would recommend buying a few. The birds flock to them and many end up staying with you for a while afterwards.
Between the center of the exhibit and the alpacas is a misting station for everyone to cool off. We really enjoyed the style and colors of the sculptures, signs and misting station. So fun!
Periodically, the zoo staff brings various animals to the Christopher Family Plaza (center of the exhibit). The animals include a Serval, Southern Tamandua (pictured below), Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and Linnaeus’ Two-Toed Sloth. Click here to see the full listing of ambassador animals.
Wild Encounters is located next to the Hamill Family Play Zoo. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free, unlimited zoo members are free and if you have the Family Plus membership admission is half price.
Hungry? Oaks Café is nearby with outdoor ADA accessibility and covered seating. Menu items include freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, and wraps, vegetarian options, 100 percent grass-fed beef burgers, antibiotic hormone-free chicken and seasonal specials.
Other areas of interest at Brookfield Zoo:
Festival of Flight
While you are at the zoo you should catch Festival of Flight, a free show with all types of birds. It’s located behind Tropic World and is entertaining! Birds of all sizes and colors fly around the area and display their talents with funny banter between the hosts.
This exhibit is always a highlight when we go to the zoo. The kids love reaching in and feeling the smooth and slippery surface of the stingrays. There are considerably more stingrays in the pool compared to others we visited, so you should check this one out.
Have fun at the zoo!
This post brought to you by the Brookfield Zoo, but all opinions are my own.