News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 30, 2021
NOTE: Download images following this press release.

Brookfield Zoo’s Spring 2021 Calendar of Events

Virtual Spring 5k Run/Walk
Now through May 30, 2021
Brookfield Zoo’s first-ever Virtual Spring 5k Run/Walk takes you outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather and glorious colors of sprouting blooms. You choose the time and place—take a hike in a forest preserve, jog along a waterfront trail, or stroll through a neighborhood. Or, run the full 5k to compare your time with other runners. The cost is $30 per person. Each participant receives a beanie, virtual medal, and completion certificate. Race materials will be mailed. To register and for additional information, visit
Virtual Lecture—Wildlife Wellness: Conserving the Health of Free-ranging and Zoo Reptiles
Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m.
The landscape across the globe has undergone unprecedented change in the last 100 years, and many environments no longer resemble the ecosystems that species evolved in. Declines of several species have been associated with these landscape changes. However, the associated changes in pathogen presence and subsequent ability of habitats to support healthy populations remain largely unknown. With the emergence of pathogens spilling from wildlife to people (COVID), it has never been more important to study the health of wildlife. In Illinois, several reptiles are proposed as sentinels of ecosystem health. Join Matt Allender, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl ACZM, clinical veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society, for a presentation in which he will talk about research efforts in conservation, health, and disease. Additionally, he will discuss how those efforts translate into ways to improve conserving the natural world as well as the care of animals in zoos. The lecture is free, although a $10 donation is appreciated. Online reservations are required and can be made at
Earth Day: A Party for the Planet
Saturday, April 24, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Every day is Earth Day at Brookfield Zoo, but on this special day, the zoo will be hosting a recycling event, presented by the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program, to encourage everyone to help make a difference for wildlife and the natural world. So, if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time, and an environmentally friendly way, to dispose of items that have been taking up space in your basement or garage, head to Brookfield Zoo. From 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., representatives from the zoo and its partner organizations will be stationed in the zoo’s main north parking lot collecting a variety of unwanted items, including electronics, textiles, and used books. For a complete list of acceptable and unacceptable items, visit Follow the signs directing vehicles to enter the parking lot off of 31st.
 Virtual Lecture—Zoo Nutrition: The Art and Science of It!
Tuesday, April 27, 7:00 p.m.
Join Jennifer Watts, PhD, director of nutrition for the Chicago Zoological Society, for an enlightening discussion on the work behind diet development for exotic animals. Dr. Watts will share how she and her staff formulate natural diets—seasonality, feed items, and presentation—for the animals at Brookfield Zoo; contribute to research projects; and provide constant diet reviews and problem solving for the collection. With only 10 percent of accredited zoos in North America to have a graduate level nutritionist on staff, Dr. Watts also shares her expertise with other zoos and aquariums around the world. The lecture is free, although a $10 donation is appreciated. Online reservations are required and can be made at

Saturday, May 1, 7:00 p.m.
The Chicago Zoological Society’s 40th annual Whirl is once again going virtual. So, no need to worry about a tux or gown, you can attend from the comfort of your own home while still helping support the Society’s animal care and welfare initiatives as well as conservation and education programs. This year’s Virtu-Whirl highlights the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chicago Zoological Society, the nonprofit organization that manages Brookfield Zoo. Special programming celebrating this notable milestone will be featured. Also, during the event, participants will be able to bid on dozens of fabulous auction items and contribute with a monetary donation as in a paddle raise. For further information, visit or call (708) 688-8670. Those unable to attend the Virtu-Whirl, can still donate at
Virtual Lecture—The Role of Veterinary Technicians in Animal Health and Conservation
Wednesday, May 12, 7:00 p.m.
Veterinary technicians play a central role in Brookfield Zoo’s animal health care team. Kate Sladek, one of the Chicago Zoological Society’s veterinary technicians, will share a behind-the-scenes look into the Animal Hospital’s operations and the support she and the other “vet techs” provide. Beyond their roles of caring for their animal patients, veterinary technicians also provide support for anesthesia, diagnostic imaging, dentistry, laboratory analyses, and many other functions, including conservation projects and research. The lecture is free, although a $10 donation is appreciated. Online reservations are required and can be made at
Virtual Lecture—The Conservation of the Guam Kingfisher: Past, Present, and Future
Tuesday, May 25, 7:00 p.m.
Join Tim Snyder, curator of birds for the Chicago Zoological Society, as he shares the history and conservation efforts for the Guam kingfisher. He will discuss how the species was close to extinction with the introduction of the invasive brown tree snake to the island as well as exciting current preparations being done to one day soon hopefully be able to release the Guam kingfisher back to protected areas on neighboring islands. Learn about the many challenges this program has encountered along the way and how they were overcome. Additionally, find out how the Chicago Zoological Society is contributing to reintroduce these beautiful birds back to wild. The lecture is free, although a $10 donation is appreciated. Online reservations are required and can be made at
Virtual Paint Night
Saturday, June 5, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Are you a "Penguin Picasso" or "Vincent Van Goat"? Pick up your paintbrush, put on your smock, and get your palettes ready for Virtual Paint Night with Brookfield Zoo on June 5 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Partnered with Pinots Palette’s Naperville studio, this class will be a live virtual event. Can’t make it on the 5th, you have up to seven days to watch the recorded video. The cost, which is $35 plus shipping, includes all you need to paint your work of art—canvas, paint, and brushes. To register and for additional information, visit
Virtual Lecture—Mr. Gadget: An Overview of Brookfield Zoo’s Environmental Quality Program
Tuesday, June 8, 7:00 p.m.
Learn about Brookfield Zoo’s comprehensive environmental monitoring program from “The Gadget Guy” himself, John Kanzia, environmental quality manager for the Chicago Zoological Society. From monitoring water quality and indoor air quality to noise and sound levels, Kanzia utilizes a combination of over 30 instruments to ensure the animals’ habitats are the best they can be. Over the course of a year, Kanzia runs about 7,000 water samples and more than 20,000 individual tests, including for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to determine how a system’s biological filter is working. On call 24/7 every day of the year, Kanzia manages Brookfield Zoo’s network of aquaculture monitors that provide around-the-clock surveillance and alarming for the most critical aquatic systems in the park. The lecture is free, although a $10 donation is appreciated. Online reservations are required and can be made at
Dinos Everywhere!
Now through September 6, 2021
The zoo’s popular Dinosaurs Everywhere! exhibit returns for a limited time through September 6, 2021. A few surprises will be featured on some of the 40 animatronic dinosaurs to make them even more lifelike. Located throughout the 216-acre park, zoogoers will be able to see their favorite dinosaurs, including the Argentinosaurus that measures 110 feet in length and stands three-stories tall on the zoo’s West Mall. Additionally, this year, there are 12 miniature brontosauruses named Benita along the dinosaur trail. Let the zoo know if you find one or all of them by sharing photos on social media—tag the zoo at #BrookfieldZoo. Guests can download the zoo’s map at to see where all the animatronic dinos are located. The exhibit was created by Don Lessum, advisor to the movie “Jurassic Park” and is on loan from Dino Don, Inc. and The Wildlife Conservation Society. Dinos Everywhere! is free with zoo admission.
Brookfield Zoo continues to follow health and safety protocols:

- To ensure social distancing, guest capacity is limited and advance admission and parking tickets are required. Reservation times are available in 20-minute increments. Tickets must be reserved at Both guests and zoo members must secure all admission and parking tickets prior to arriving.

  • - To minimize person-to-person contact, the zoo will remain a cashless environment—only credit card transactions will be accepted for purchasing food and merchandise.

  • - All guests ages 2 and over must wear face coverings when entering the zoo. Once inside, face coverings should be worn if not able to maintain a social distance of at least six feet from staff and guests who are not members of the same family. This includes when making transactions and while inside restrooms.

  • - Before arriving at the zoo, guests are encouraged to visit to review the safety protocols as well to get updates on what animal habitats and other amenities are open.

Admission to Brookfield Zoo is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11, and $19.95 for senior 65 and over. Parking is $15. All tickets are nonrefundable.
Brookfield Zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends. Beginning May 29, the zoo’s summer hours will be from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily

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Photos--credit Chicago Zoological Society
Brookfield Zoo's Virtual Spring 5k Run/Walk

4797 and 4685: The public is invited to bring acceptable items to Brookfield Zoo for its Earth Day: A Party for the Planet recycling event.

9914: Dr. Jennifer Watts, director of nutrition for the Chicago Zoological Society, will give a virtual lecture on April 27 about how she and her staff formulate diets for Brookfield Zoo's animals.

1239: A lecture about conservation efforts for the Guam kingfisher and how the Chicago Zoological Society and other organizations are working together to reintroduce these beautiful birds back to wild will take place on May 25.

Paint Night:  Join the virtual Paint Night with Brookfield Zoo on June 5 and get tips on painting a scene with a bumble bee.

4425: Learn about Brookfield Zoo’s comprehensive environmental monitoring program from “The Gadget Guy” himself, John Kanzia, environmental quality manager for the Chicago Zoological Society, during a virtual lecture on June 8.

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


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


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