The Return of the Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show: Everything You Need to Know

The Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show is back and better than ever! This cherished zoo is thrilled to welcome its beloved dolphins back home after a long-awaited hiatus, and it's a show you won't want to miss. Upon a remarkable 10-million-dollar makeover of the Seven Seas habitat as a result of extensive research aimed to improve the positive welfare of these playful mammals, the dolphins are now safely back home and ready to settle into a new habitat designed precisely for their needs. 


Join us as we dive into the aquatic wonders of The Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show and discover the zoo's unwavering efforts of global conservation.


The Move to Minnesota


In a dedicated effort to enhance the well-being of their bottlenose dolphins, Brookfield Zoo created a comprehensive plan to renovate their 37-year-old building housing the Seven Seas exhibit to improve the dolphin habitat and provide a dynamic environment to enrich the lives of their beloved marine mammals. Backed by extensive research from a 2021 Cetacean Welfare Study that evaluated the care of dolphins and whales in 43 zoos and aquariums across the globe, The Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo's Conservation Science and Animal Welfare Research Department set out on a mission to make substantial changes to improve the livelihood of their dolphins. During this transformation, Brookfield Zoo’s legendary dolphins were transported to a temporary home at The Minnesota Zoo. 


To ensure the dolphins' safe transportation, a large team of animal care staff and Veterinarians came together to carefully transport the dolphins. The experts maintained optimal conditions throughout the journey, keeping the dolphins cool and moist at all times during the trip. After a 15-month stay, Brookfield Zoo has now announced that all seven bottlenose dolphins, including Lucky, 50; Tapeko, 42; Allie, 36; Kai, 29; Spree, 21; Noelani, 20; and Allison, 18, are now safely back at Brookfield Zoo getting acclimated to their new Seven Seas habitat.


The Return of the Dolphin Show: What to Expect


After a long-awaited hiatus, the Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show is returning with a whole new look that both the dolphins and visitors will love! The revitalized Seven Seas habitat is now refinished to stimulate the dolphin's natural behaviors like foraging, playing, and utilizing echolocation. New features of the habitat include rockwork structures with anchors for attaching enrichment items, a shallow sand pit for hiding objects, and bubbler systems for playful interaction. The redesigned habitat, themed after Sarasota Bay, Florida, where the Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program is based, has also undergone significant aesthetic upgrades, featuring artificial plantings, mangrove trees, and tall grasses, mirroring Sarasota's environment. The entire facility has undergone substantial improvements like LED lighting, a climate-controlled environment, and better accessibility seating. 

Other remarkable additions have been implemented to help further research and improve the well-being of these favorable performers. For example, underwater microphones have been installed to enable researchers and staff to capture valuable dolphin vocalizations for scientific studies and allow guests to enjoy listening to the dolphins through the building's sound system. This creates a valuable connection between the dolphins and guests attending the shows. In the coming months, the zoo plans to introduce a 35-foot-diameter moveable floor in the south holding pool, facilitating swift and low-stress lifting of dolphins for necessary medical care.

The underwater viewing gallery has also received a fresh new look, with new signage, lighting projections, and new digital monitors to offer guests a behind-the-scenes look at the research conducted both at Brookfield Zoo and in Sarasota Bay, Florida. The Seven Seas renovations were funded by the American Rescue Plan Act through Cook County and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, as well as by many generous donors.

This new innovation will help zoogoers learn about the important role science plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems and wildlife populations for the animals, as well as personal actions they can take to make a difference for animals everywhere.


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Dolphin Shows, Times, and Admission Details 


The extraordinary enhancements, coupled with the improved well-being of the Brookfield Zoo dolphins, promise to create a thrilling new show that will captivate guests from near and far. The amazing Dolphins in Action presentations will resume on Friday, March 22nd, with the Underwater Viewing Gallery opening Monday, March 25th. 


Tickets for the Dolphins in Action show are available for purchase on-site. 


Adults: $6.00

Seniors 65 & Over: $4.00

Children 3 to 11: $3.00

Free for Unlimited-Level Members


From March 22nd through the 31st, the following showtimes will be available. 


Monday - Wednesday: 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m.

Thursday - Sunday: 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m.


Effective April 1st, shows will run weekdays at 11:30 a.m. and  2:30 p.m. and on weekends with showtimes occurring at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.



Other Attractions at Brookfield Zoo


Coupled with the dolphins' return is a variety of new must-see attractions and animal encounters you won't want to miss. The Hamill Family Play Zoo is gaining two male Koalas this year, offering guests a unique experience to view the extraordinary lifestyle of these Australia-native species. Visitors will have the opportunity to delve into the fascinating biology of these magnificent marsupials, gaining insight into their daily routines and dietary preferences up close. 


Further, the zoo is offering exciting new animal encounters with their latest initiative, Wild Connections. This exclusive opportunity enables visitors to embark on unique experiences that provide a close-up perspective on various species residing at the zoo, from leopard sharks and flamingos to river otters, macaws, and beyond. These memorable interactions not only provide firsthand experiences with the zoo animals but also offer valuable insights into each species, shared by knowledgeable animal care professionals. 


Along with the shining favorites of Brookfield Zoo, like Tropic World and The Living Coast, guests can enhance their visit further by taking a ride on Brookfield Zoo's latest attraction, a 110' tall Ferris Wheel. Brookfield Zoo, now rebranded as Brookfield Zoo Chicago, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with a majestic Ferris wheel for guests to see the park from new heights. The massive sky wheel rotates over two and a half times per minute. It has 24 riding gondolas that sit up to 6 people each and features bright, multicolored LED lighting that will illuminate brightly during evening hours and events. Rides will be available beginning March 15th.


Planning Your Visit to Brookfield Zoo


Brookfield Zoo is a captivating destination with a multitude of exhibits and attractions, making it an ideal place to observe nature and wildlife. Serving as a hub for conservation, education, and discovery, the zoo provides a wonderful experience for visitors of all ages.


When planning your trip, consider purchasing tickets online in advance to streamline your entry process. General admission pricing is: 


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. Tickets can be purchased at


Parking is not included in admission; it is $17 at the North Gate and $20 at the South Gate. 


Helpful Tips 


If Dolphins in Action is your main attraction for your trip, be sure to arrive early to allow yourself enough time to purchase tickets and find a good seat! Consider familiarizing yourself with the zoo's map to strategically navigate the diverse exhibits and plan your itinerary based on your interests and encounters with your favorite animals. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes and pack sunscreen, snacks, and a refillable water bottle. The zoo also had concessions available throughout the park, as well as delicious restaurant offerings like BZ Red Hots, Cafe Del Sol, Cup & Cone, and more. 


In regard to accessibility, Brookfield Zoo Chicago strives to make its grounds accessible to all visitors. Guests can rent a child stroller, wagon, wheelchair, and electronic convenience vehicle (ECV) at the North and South Gates. However, strollers are not allowed in certain exhibits like Tropic World, Australia House, The Fragile Kingdom, or Seven Seas Dolphin Discovery. Stroller parking is conveniently available next to the entrances to all of these exhibits.




Set within a 216-acre park, there is a lot of ground to cover when visiting one of the largest zoos in Illinois. Often, many residents visit multiple times a year and plan each trip accordingly. If you're looking for an opportunity to save on costs and visit the zoo multiple times, consider a membership. Memberships offer special perks like free parking for one vehicle at the North Gate entrance and discounts on select attractions inside the zoo and at restaurants. 


Check out Zoo Membership options to explore the exciting choices. 


Meet Us at Brookfield Zoo Chicago


From the mesmerizing performances showcasing their natural behaviors to the educational aspects highlighting the importance of conservation leadership, the Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show promises to deliver a captivating experience that goes beyond mere entertainment, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to connect with these intelligent and graceful marine mammals. 


Beyond the enchanting displays of agility and intelligence, the Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show underscores the vital role that zoos play in conservation efforts. By providing a platform for environmental education and supporting research initiatives, the show becomes a catalyst for positive change. It encourages visitors to reflect on their impact on the planet and inspires a commitment to preserving the oceans and the incredible creatures that inhabit them.


Whether you're a first-time visitor or returning for another round of exploration, Brookfield Zoo Chicago promises a day brimming with adventure, education, and entertainment. Embark on a journey that seamlessly blends learning and enjoyment, making each visit a memorable and enriching experience.