News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,                                                                                         
March 29, 2016

Note: Images of Hamill Family Play Zoo may be downloaded below:

Hamill 15 Fact Sheet

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DSC_9840: During the Hamill Family Play Zoo’s 15th anniversary celebrations, which take place on the 15th of every month during 2016, youngsters can have up-close experiences with some of the animals that reside in the exhibit.

DSC_1184: At Hamill Family Play Zoo, staff engage kids in a variety of craft activities.

DSC_5351: One of the favorite activities at Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo is face painting. Since the exhibit opened in 2015, visiting children, and even many adults, have used more than 35,000 crayons to create a variety of animal faces on themselves.

DSC_9837: During the summer, children can participate in lady bug releases at Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo. Since the exhibit opened in 2015, there have been 630 ladybug releases resulting in around 2,835,000 ladybugs taking flight.

DSC_2480: At Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo, kids can build animal homes and then pretend to be the animals.

Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo Celebrates 15 Years of Educating, Inspiring Children
Guests Can Play and Learn in Interactive Exhibit with Special Monthly Activities in 2016

            Brookfield, Ill. – Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo, an innovative interactive exhibit that has helped redefine how early childhood play can give children the tools they need to build a strong connection with animals and nature, celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2016. As one of the nation’s first major experiences of its kind, Hamill Family Play Zoo has been nurturing children’s curiosity and sense of caring for millions of guests.

To celebrate the anniversary, on the 15th of every month in 2016, Hamill Family Play Zoo is hosting activities from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Guests have opportunities to meet zoo professionals, participate in scavenger hunts, learn about the animals during Zoo Chats, get creative with art activities, play a part in animal training or husbandry sessions, and join in fun-filled parades.

Each month, informal chats with staff highlight a different area of expertise, exposing children to different aspects of zoo life, including veterinarians, animal care specialists, carpenters, zoo writers, volunteers, and more. Families can come back month after month to learn something new.

To mark the official birthday on June 15, a larger celebration will feature live music and entertainment, craft activities, multiple experts who will teach kids about their jobs, a plush animal clinic that youngsters can bring their plush pals to for some tender loving care, and more. For updates on each month’s schedule of activities, visit

“Hamill Family Play Zoo is one of our proudest exhibits,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. “At Brookfield Zoo, we understand how early childhood play opportunities help bridge the gap between children and nature. We hope that by allowing children to get up close and personal with animals and their environment, they will become active conservationists throughout their lives.”

Open since June 2001, Hamill Family Play Zoo has encouraged millions of children and their families to take an active role in learning by touching animals, planting and tending a garden, examining animal X-rays, releasing ladybugs in the summertime, pretending to be a zoo director or animal keeper, engaging in mud finger painting, painting their faces, and building habitats as they imagine what it is like to be an animal.

Marking the Chicago Zoological Society’s leadership in conservation psychology, Hamill Family Play Zoo explores what motivates people to care about and take action to protect nature. By providing children with hands-on experiences that focus on how to encourage conservation of the natural world, guests leave feeling more connected to their environment than ever before.

Hamill Family Play Zoo resides on two acres and features three areas of fun and learning: Zoo within a Zoo, Zoo at Home, and the Play Gardens.

Admission to Brookfield Zoo is $17.85 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $11. Admission to Hamill Family Play Zoo is $3 for guests 3 and older. The exhibit is free from November 1 through December 31.  


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


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