News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
October 27, 1922
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photo.

Groundbreaking of Brookfield Zoo Happened 100 Years Ago Today, October 27, 1922

Brookfield, Ill. —A century ago on this date, October 27, 1922, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for what is now Brookfield Zoo. As stated in the zoo’s history book, “Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo,” “October 1922 found the work of the Society well along, and it was decided that a groundbreaking was in order. Accordingly, a special ceremony marking the turning of the first shovel of soil was scheduled for Friday, October 27, chosen because it was the birthday of former President Teddy Roosevelt, considered the country’s leading naturalist.”

In 1922, Daniel Ryan, who, at the time, was president of the Forest Preserve District, made the first dig with a spade. Other prominent Chicagoans who spoke at the ceremony included John McCutcheon, then president of the Chicago Zoological Society; Charles Wacker; and Daniel Ryan, among others.

Since that first spade in the ground made way for what is today a world-renowned conservation organization with a mission of inspiring conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature, there is a need to revitalize the infrastructure at Brookfield Zoo, including buildings that are 100 years old.

Brookfield Zoo sits on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, and Forest Preserves of Cook County are one of the most
successful public-private partnerships in the country. On November 8, residents of Cook County have the opportunity to vote YES for the Clean Air, Clean Water and Wildlife referendum, which will help secure the future of Brookfield Zoo by providing critical capital funding.

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 Photo Caption
Groundbreaking for Brookfield Zoo took place on October 27, 1922. (credit: Chicago History Museum)

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


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