News Release

April 22, 2015

Photo Download: Black-crowned crane.jpg, Eurasian eagle owl.jpg, Harpy eagle.jpg

Fly High with Excitement at Brookfield Zoo’s Festival of Flight

Watch as Birds Soar, Swoop, and Dive Beginning May 23

Brookfield, Ill. — This summer, Brookfield Zoo will feature an interactive experience like never before. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, May 23, and continuing through Labor Day, September 7, guests will fly high with excitement while watching birds soar, swoop, and dive as they demonstrate their natural flight abilities during the Festival of Flight show, which is free with general zoo admission.

Zoogoers will look on in amazement as a grape is tossed for a trumpeter hornbill to catch in mid-air and as an Eurasian eagle-owl soars inches above them. Laughter will be hard to control when an Amazon parrot mimics human speech, and the audience can watch the skill of a red-legged seriema as it demonstrates its natural behavior of capturing prey. During the presentation, guests will also feel the wind in their hair as the Andean condor with its 10-foot wingspan soars just above their heads, and members of the audience may want to open their pockets, as a crow scans the crowd for donations that help support endangered species in the wild.

“Festival of Flight is a fun and educational interactive experience for our guests that also features an important conservation message,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.

The show incorporates conservation into almost every routine, which inspires caring that leads to conservation action. For example, guests will see the critically-endangered blue-throated macaw. With less than 150 remaining in the wild, they will learn how the species is part of an important conservation project that will soon release the bird in Bolivia, its native habitat.

Festival of Flight features nearly 20 species of birds, including the hooded vulture, black-crowned crane, red-tailed hawk, harpy eagle, umbrella cockatoo, and more. The birds are trained by internationally renowned animal behaviorist, Steve Martin and senior trainer, Jose Bello, who will host the show at Brookfield Zoo. 

The 30-minute presentation, which will be held west of the zoo’s Tropic World habitat, will take place at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. daily. From June 5 through August 8, shows on Fridays will be at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. The schedule is subject to change and is weather permitting. General zoo admission is $16.95 for adults, $11.95 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10. For further information about Festival of Flight, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Festival of Flight is just one of the new attractions that is part of Brookfield Zoo’s 2015 Summer of Connections that also includes Summer Nights and the opening of Hamill Family Wild Encounters in July.  Summer Nights takes place Friday and Saturday evenings from June 5 through August 8 and will feature enhanced dining experiences, beer and wine gardens, roaming performers, kids’ entertainment, live music, and a laser light show, all surrounded by wildlife and nature. Hamill Family Wild Encounters is a permanent exhibit that will allow guests of all ages unforgettable opportunities to touch and feed animals, including wallabies, parakeets, and goats as well as get up-close views reindeer, llama, alpaca, and red pandas—a new species to Brookfield Zoo—as well as many of the zoo’s ambassador animals, including servals, tamanduas, and two-toed sloths.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society inspires conservation leadership by connecting people 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 Brookfield Zoo's innovative, naturalistic, multispecies exhibits and for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. For further information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.


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


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