News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 19, 2023

‚ÄčBrookfield Zoo Receives $40 Million Gift, Largest Donation in Zoo’s History

Brookfield, Ill. — Brookfield Zoo is honored to announce the receipt of an unprecedented $40 million donation – the largest single private contribution ever received in the organization’s 89-year history.

Granted generously from a family with a long history of support for the Zoo who wishes to remain publicly anonymous, the extraordinary gift will further the advancement of the organization’s commitment to animal care, wildlife conservation, education, and connecting communities with nature. The substantial donation will support a variety of initiatives focused on the enhancement and development of animal habitats, conservation programs, and guest experiences.

“We are immensely grateful for this unparalleled act of generosity,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society and director of Brookfield Zoo. “This significant gift will support the construction of Tropical Forests, featuring state-of-the-art outdoor and indoor environments for our great apes, as well as a series of exciting new animal habitats that will be revealed in the Zoo’s forthcoming master plan, slated for release in early 2024. This gift bolsters our ability to create an exceptional future for Brookfield Zoo as we approach our centennial celebration in 2034.”

This historic donation extends beyond the immediate benefits, creating a lasting legacy that will impact future generations. The donor’s commitment to the conservation of wildlife and wild places aligns with Brookfield Zoo’s dedication to fostering a deep understanding of the animal kingdom and the critical role we all play in its preservation.

“Zoos play a critical role in connecting people to wildlife and nature. This donation will enable us to execute our ambitious plans for Brookfield Zoo and its important role as a conservation organization committed to protecting and preserving endangered species around the globe. While the donor wishes to remain anonymous, their commitment to our shared vision of a brighter future for wildlife and humanity shines brightly,” added Adkesson.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is currently working to honor the donor’s wishes and further develop strategies for the allocation of these funds to maximize their impact. The Zoo plans to reveal further details in early 2024 in tandem with the release of its new master plan and Next Century Campaign.

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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. 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