News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 20, 2023
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download renderings of new space and photos of primates.

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

Brookfield, Ill. — Imagine coming face to face with a western lowland gorilla, separated by only a two-story glass window; watching an orangutan move between trees overhead; or marveling as spider monkeys hang from their tails above a walkway. That’s exactly what zoogoers will be able to experience as Brookfield Zoo begins to move forward with an expansion of its current Tropic World habitat, which includes the addition of four new outdoor areas.

The new space, which encompasses approximately 2 acres, will feature new indoor and outdoor habitats for two gorilla troops—a family unit and a bachelor group consisting of adult and adolescent males—and outdoor areas for orangutans and several species of South American monkeys. The primates’ habitats will have running water features, climbing structures, grasses, and vines. And, nearly 75 new trees, 500 shrubs, and several pollinator gardens will be planted. Many of the few dozen trees that need to be removed will be repurposed and used in other areas throughout the Zoo for animal enrichment and new structures in habitats.

“I am tremendously excited about this project. Seeing our gorillas and orangutans come outside, some for the very first time, will be an unforgettable moment as they experience natural grass under their feet and sunlight shining on their faces,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society and director of Brookfield Zoo. “The new habitats will also allow guests to connect with these amazing charismatic animals in a whole new way. Our mission is to engage our guests in caring about wildlife and nature. From that connection, we can then inspire people to incorporate conservation-minded activities into their daily lives.”

In addition to the expanded habitats, the project also includes a Gorilla Conservation Center with state-of-the-art learning space for the public and a dedicated home for the Chicago Zoological Society’s King Conservation Leadership Academy, in which high-school age students participate in science programming with an emphasis on career and college readiness.

A fence has recently been installed around the new site as preparation work gets underway. During construction, guests will still be able to see the animals in Tropic World. Once complete, there will be opportunities in the future to make changes inside the current building that will feature new guest experiences.

It is anticipated the entire complex will be completed in 2025. Zoogoers will be able to see the animals in their new habitats beginning in 2025, and potentially extending into 2026 as animals acclimate and are introduced into their new spaces.

The official groundbreaking ceremony will take place later this fall. The project is the first of many exciting new changes coming to Brookfield Zoo that will be revealed this fall when the Chicago Zoological Society announces its Next Century Campaign as the Zoo looks forward to its centennial celebration in 2034.

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Renderings/Photos (credit: CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
ariel (rendering): New outdoor space for Brookfield Zoo's apes and monkeys encompasses approximately 2 acres.

exterior orangutan viewing (rendering): Guests visiting Brookfield Zoo will be able to view orangutans in a new naturalistic outdoor space once the expansion is complete.

interior gorilla viewing (rendering): Guests will be able to get close-up views of Brookfield Zoo's western lowland gorillas through huge windows as part of an expansion plan for apes and monkeys.

1773: Brookfield Zoo's western lowland gorillas will have new outdoor spaces when the expansion is complete.

3640: Expansion plans for Brookfield Zoo's current Tropic World includes an outdoor area for orangutans.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, and the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association. Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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