News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
January 10, 2023
 NOTE: Scroll down to end of press release to download photos.


Brookfield Zoo Renews Level II Accreditation from ArbNet Accreditation Program

 Brookfield, Ill. — Brookfield Zoo, which is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society, has renewed its Level II Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. The zoo was first accredited in 2013, and has maintained all the criteria to renew its status. The Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism. Brookfield Zoo is also recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

Since opening in 1934, Brookfield Zoo has connected an urbanized population in the Chicagoland area with nature and wildlife through its diverse animal collection and flourishing landscape that includes native and nonnative trees. Internationally recognized for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation, the 235-acre cultural institution in the near west suburbs also provides a unique experience for guests to enjoy its more than 100 tree species.

When visiting Brookfield Zoo, guests of all ages can see their favorite animals while strolling the picturesque walkways lined with hundreds of trees. From a serene walk on a quarter-mile trail around Swan Lake on the west side of the park to more frequented pathways past the majestic roars of Brutus and Titus, the zoo’s African lions, or the graceful gaits of the reticulated giraffes, guests can learn not only about the animals but the trees as well.

Notable native tree species at Brookfield Zoo include the magnolia ‘butterflies’ (Magnolia acuminata ‘butterflies’), a deciduous hybrid magnolia known for its beautiful yellow flowers in the spring, rather than the more familiar pink blooms, and the shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), which is named for the “shaggy” appearance of its bark that peels away in long strips. The tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), native throughout most of the eastern United States and located on the northwest side of Brookfield Zoo’s Mary Ann MacLean Conservation Leadership Center, is a member of the magnolia family with tulip-shaped flowers. It is one of the tallest native hardwood trees in North America, growing up to 150 feet high in the forest. The bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), is one of the few cone-bearing trees that drops its reddish-brown needle-like foliage in the winter and has new growth of green needles in the spring.
Nonnative species include the golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata), which originated in Asia and is a fast-growing tree that is one of only a few trees that flower in midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere. In late summer, this species forms seed pods that turn a deep, rich orange and look like tiny paper lanterns. Outside Brookfield Zoo’s south gate arches are Dawyck purple leaved beech trees (Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Purple’). The columnar tree, native to Central and Southern Europe, reaches a diameter of less than 10 feet. It has showy red-orange bronze foliage in the fall, and when it loses its leaves, the sliver bark is striking in the winter.
As the seasons change, so does the landscape at Brookfield Zoo. From the trees sprouting their blooms in the spring, to showing off their vibrant fall colors, to displaying their bare limbs covered with snow in the winter, zoogoers can experience the beauty and wonders of nature year-round. To assist guests in identifying and locating the different tree species, a tree identification guide and map can be downloaded at


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 Photo Captions (credit: CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
8: Guests can see a golden rain tree near Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House.
50: The bald cypress is one of the few cone-bearing trees that drops its needs in the winter.
55: Guests can take a leisurely stroll around Brookfield Zoo’s Swan Lake to see many native tree species.
6: The shagbark hickory tree’s bark peels away from the trunk in long strips.
22: Winter is a great time to visit Brookfield Zoo to see the changing landscape.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with 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 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
About ArbNet
ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The accreditation program, sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards. The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation. More information is available at


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


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