What's New at the Zoo: Brookfield Zoo Animals, Ferris Wheel & More!

2024 marks a momentous year for Brookfield Zoo. Celebrating its 90th Anniversary, the zoo commemorates this milestone with spectacular additions, including a captivating lineup of new Brookfield Zoo animals, a towering 130-ft Ferris wheel, and a newly branded name to kickstart it all. Brookfield Zoo and its parent organization, the Chicago Zoological Society, are now Brookfield Zoo Chicago! 


Embodying the mantra "Connect. Care. Conserve," Brookfield Zoo Chicago invites guests to immerse themselves in a world of wonders unlike anything seen at the zoo before. The enhanced experience encompasses exciting new attractions and fosters meaningful wildlife connections and global conservation initiatives.


Join us as we explore in depth all the new offerings of Brookfield Zoo Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, and why it's a must-visit this year.

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The Charm of Brookfield Zoo Chicago


From the moment Brookfield Zoo opened its doors in 1934, it has consistently captivated visitors with its extraordinary exhibits, one-of-a-kind animal encounters, and exciting seasonal events. Nestled within a vast 216-acre nature park, the zoo has continually expanded its offerings while remaining dedicated to the principles of conservation and education. As it commemorates 90 years of existence, Brookfield Zoo is embarking on significant transformations to reaffirm its personal action to preserve and protect wildlife and nature and ensure a legacy of conservation for generations to come.


Let’s explore what's new at the zoo this year. 


Welcoming New Koalas


The beloved Hamill Family Zoo is gaining new members this summer, and they are two cute, fuzzy friends you are going to love! For the first time in history, two male koalas, Brumby and Willum, will take up residence at Brookfield Zoo, offering guests an incredible opportunity to view a favorite Australia-native species. Zoo visitors can learn more about the unique biology of these exquisite marsupials while getting an up-close look at their daily living and eating habits. 


Koalas are solitary animals, enjoying most of their time alone, but are flexible with sharing their space with others of their kind, making Brookfield Zoo a perfect new home for these endangered species. Brumby and Willum will join other favorite Hammill Zoo members, like the parakeets and wallabies. Other Australian favorites at the zoo include the popular Emu, a Green Tree Python, and the hopping kangaroo. 


The koala exhibit will be free with the price of admission and will feature both indoor and outdoor habitats. Check the Brookfield Zoo website for updates regarding this exciting addition. 



Dolphins Return from Vacation


The long-awaited return of the dolphins is here, and it's a scene you won't want to miss. After a 15-month-long vacation, the dolphins are back and better than ever as they adjust to their newly remodeled habitat. The Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo's Conservation Science and Animal Welfare Research Department discovered new opportunities to enrich the lives of their dolphins and designed an entirely new habitat. 


The remodel includes remarkable additions like a shallow sand pit where staff can hide different objects for the dolphins to find using their echolocating skills and new built-in bubbler systems. The dolphins can playfully interact with the bubbles, rolling over them and skillfully using objects such as balls to navigate across the bubble-filled waters. Additionally, these bubbles serve to interrupt echolocation signals, enabling the dolphins to partake in a unique form of underwater hide-and-seek. 


Dolphins in Action presentations resume on March 22nd, and the underwater viewing gallery will reopen on March 25th.



Birth of a Baby Giraffe


A dolphin exhibit isn't the only thing new at Brookfield Zoo; just last August, Arnieta, a 16-year-old reticulated giraffe, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl right inside the zoo's walls. Giraffes have been a part of Brookfield Zoo since it opened in 1934, but this new addition was one to remember. Arnieta gave birth to her approximately 6-foot-tall, 130-pound calf in a behind-the-scenes area away from the rest of the herd for safety and privacy during this anticipated miracle. 


The birth was a success and can even be seen on video at the zoo's indoor giraffe exhibit. This calf, whose name is Kinda, is the 60th giraffe born at the zoo. This spring, guests can stop by Habitat Africa to see the darling calf and her mother, along with the opportunity to feed them and other giraffes delicious greens for only $15. 


Learn more about giraffe feeding here



New Grey Seal Pup


The Brookfield Zoo animals are receiving a new friend, a healthy grey male seal pup! Born on February 17th, this new arrival is the offspring of Georgette, known as “Georgie,” an 11-year-old seal who found her way to the zoo after being stranded on an island in Georgetown, Maine, back in 2013. Despite being fully blind in one eye and functionally blind in the other, Georgie has adapted remarkably well to her new home and is now relishing the experience of motherhood. 


Her baby seal is rapidly learning the ropes of swimming and growing stronger each day. As Spring approaches, visitors will have the opportunity to witness the heartwarming sight of this adorable pup and its doting mother as they frolic in their habitat at Brookfield Zoo.




Thrilling Shark Feeding Experiences


If you thought feeding giraffes was exciting, just wait; Brookfield Zoo Chicago is bringing an exclusive shark-feeding encounter, opening this Spring! Visitors will be able to assist Brookfield's animal care specialists in preparing food and feeding the sharks in the Living Coast exhibit. Guests can experience an in-depth exploration of shark behavior and gain insights into the zoo's dedicated conservation efforts. 


Participants will also learn about the importance of sharks, their unique habits, and how to feed them safely. Participants must be 12 years old, and the cost is $100 for 1 to 2 participants. Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity to engage with sharks and gain a deeper understanding of their fascinating world.


For more information and to view the rules for this encounter, visit



North American Prairie Aviary


Set to open this June, the eagerly anticipated North American Prairie Aviary will grace a spacious 3,000-square-foot habitat on the north side of Hamill Family Nature Plaza. This new habitat will become home to a pair of Sandhill Cranes and nearly a dozen Greater Prairie Chickens. The habitat will feature lush vegetation, a large pool, and many other attributes to stimulate the animals and encourage nesting and foraging. 


This aviary will be free with zoo admission. 



Celebrating a Special Anniversary: Ferris Wheel Edition


If you're ready to take your visit to Brookfield Zoo Chicago sky high, then you don't want to miss an opportunity to ride the Anniversary Ferris Wheel! Beginning March 15th, guests can embark on a soaring adventure on a majestic 130-foot Ferris wheel to view the beauty of the park from new heights. This grand addition is in celebration of the zoo's 90th Anniversary and will be located just east of the newly adorned Roosevelt Fountain. Tickets are priced at $8 per person, with a discounted rate of $6 for zoo members. Admission is free for unlimited-level members and individuals holding redeemable attraction vouchers. 


Don't miss this chance to elevate your zoo experience and take in breathtaking views of Brookfield Zoo's animal exhibits, acres of nature, and the Chicago skyline.




See What Else is New: Animals, Encounters, and More!


Beyond the excitement of a fresh dolphin exhibit and the arrival of two charming koalas, Brookfield Zoo is poised to unveil even more captivating offerings. 


If you're looking to make some wild memories, consider participating in Brookfield Zoo's Wild Connections. Wild Connections offers guests an exclusive opportunity to have close encounters with various Brookfield Zoo animals throughout the park. Visitor participation supports Brookfield's conservation initiatives, aiding imperiled species, contributing to veterinary science research, and enhancing animal enrichment programs. Guests can see porcupines, flamingos, macaws, otters, and other fascinating species in the rainforest, like the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock up close and personal. 


With new branding honoring the monumental lion statues at the entrance, the logo also mirrors two furry residents, Brutus and Titus, Brookfield Zoo's two male African lions who celebrated their 8th birthday this year. These lions aren't the only beloved pair; polar bears Hope and Hudson are also enjoying their residence at the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit alongside brown bears Tim and Jess, other American bison, and an extraordinary bald eagle. 


Other Crowd Favorite Exhibits


Habitat Africa: Home to various animals from Central African rainforest habitats, this exciting exhibit takes visitors to view the rich lands and forests of Africa to see mammals large and small like the African Red-Billed Hornbill, the Nyala Antelope or take a walk outside to view the pack of African painted dogs. Near the Savannah are hoofed animals like the Addax, Bactrian Camels, and beautifully striped Zebras. 


Tropic World: Among the world-class favorites at the zoo are the extraordinary primates we all know and love. Tropic World underwent significant transformations in recent years, offering a newly remodeled habitat for the great apes and other Asian mammals. Some of the crew includes a Two-Toed Sloth, White-Cheeked Gibbon, and spunky spider monkeys. After exploring Asia to see wild Orangutans, Angolan Colobus, and Western Lowland Gorillas, you can then head across the way to see the feathers and scales exhibit, including the Andean Condor and Roadrunner. 


Big Cat Walkway and Big Cats: It's no secret that lions are a zoo favorite, but as you stroll down Big Cats walkway, you just might see other mighty hunters like the Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard or the slow-moving Sloth Bear and sneaky Snow Leopard. 


Pachyderms: The Pachyderm building is one of the zoo's original structures that is currently home to a Galapagos Tortoise, Pygmy Hippo, Black Rhino, Capybara, and two species of South American Tapirs. You may also find Klipspringer Antelope, and Dwarf Mongoose among other species. 


The Living Coast: From stunning aquariums with beautiful saltwater fish and Salamanders to Humboldt Penguins, The Living Coast makes for a unique, educational, and exciting adventure. Not far from this beloved location is Pinniped Point, home to the rambunctious California Sea Lion. 


From monkeys and gorillas to fierce lions and tigers, there is no shortage of amazing exhibitions at Brookfield Zoo Chicago. 



Planning Your Visit


As Spring approaches, the warmer weather makes for the perfect time to visit this beloved and vast location. Ticket prices are currently set at: 


Adults: $29.95

Seniors 65 and over: $24.95

Children 3 to 11: $20.95

Zoo admission and all available attractions are FREE for children 2 and under. 


Boasting over 3,000 animal residents and expansive grounds spanning hundreds of acres, Brookfield Zoo Chicago offers a wealth of exploration and activities, making it well worth multiple visits. Brookfield Zoo provides diverse membership packages tailored to the preferences of both individuals and families. Membership holders can enjoy free parking and discounts on certain zoo attractions like the latest Dolphins in Action! The Zoo is currently open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. 


Purchase tickets at


Brookfield Zoo's latest offerings are filled with adventure, excitement, education, and unforgettable moments with many diverse animal residents. From the heartwarming encounters with koalas and dolphins to the anticipation of upcoming attractions like the North American Prairie Aviary and shark feeding, it's clear that Brookfield Zoo is not just a place to observe wildlife but a hub of conservation, education, and discovery. So, whether you're a frequent visitor or planning your first trip, be sure to check out the latest additions to this expanding adventure in Illinois.