Giraffe Feeding at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo, located in the suburbs of Chicago, is one of the most popular destinations for animal lovers. It is spread across 216 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals, representing 450 species worldwide. Among the many animals you can see at Brookfield Zoo, the giraffes are one of the most beloved. These gentle giants, with their long necks and striking patterns, never fail to capture the hearts of visitors. But what if you could do more than see them from afar? At Brookfield Zoo, you can have a truly unique experience by feeding the giraffes. In this blog post, we'll give you an overview of what it's like to get up close and personal with these amazing animals.

Getting to know giraffes

In the wild, giraffes are typically found in the savannahs and grasslands of Africa, spanning various countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Their natural habitat is characterized by wide open spaces with scattered trees and shrubs and areas near rivers and watering holes. Giraffes are adapted to this environment with their long necks and legs, which allow them to graze on tree leaves that are out of reach for other herbivores. They are also well adapted to dry conditions and can go for long periods without drinking water by obtaining moisture from the vegetation they consume. 

The giraffe habitat at Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, is a sprawling, open space that closely mimics the natural habitat of giraffes in the wild. The habitat features a large savannah-like expanse with tall grasses, scattered trees, and a watering hole. It has rolling terrain and ample space for the giraffes to move freely and exhibit their natural behaviors. The trees within the habitat are strategically placed to provide shade and browsing opportunities for the giraffes, allowing them to show their characteristic feeding behavior of browsing on tree leaves. 

The habitat also includes a feeding platform that allows visitors to hand-feed the giraffes, creating an interactive experience for guests while providing enrichment and socialization opportunities for the giraffes.

The feeding experience

The Giraffe Feeding Experience at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois is a unique opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with these majestic animals. The feeding area is a spacious enclosure that provides a safe and comfortable environment for the giraffes and the guests. The enclosure is surrounded by a sturdy fence, with a platform that allows guests to be at eye level with the giraffes, providing an immersive experience.

Before participating in the giraffe feeding, guests are given explicit rules and guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals. Zookeepers provide instructions on holding and offering giraffe-friendly food, typically leafy lettuce or specially formulated pellets, to the giraffes. It is emphasized that guests should never touch the giraffes, as they are wild animals and should be respected as such. The zookeepers can also answer questions and share fascinating facts about giraffes, their behavior, and conservation efforts.

Interacting with the zookeepers and other guests before feeding is another experience highlight. Zookeepers are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, sharing their passion for giraffes and their conservation. They provide exciting insights into the giraffes' diet, anatomy, and behavior, creating an educational and interactive experience. Guests also have the opportunity to observe the giraffes up close as they roam around the feeding area, displaying their unique personalities and behaviors.


Feed the Giraffes


Meet the crew


The giraffes at the Brookfield Zoo can't wait to meet you!


Jasiri - Likes snacks and chews her cud more than any of the other giraffes.

Potoka - Is a very gentle giraffe. He often interacts with the animal care staff. 

Anrieta: She enjoys playing in the water and splashing with her friends. 

Ato - Is a young male giraffe with lots of energy. He is often seen spending time with Arnieta and has also become friendly with Potoka. 



Feeding rules


It's essential to follow the feeding rules for the safety of both the giraffes and visitors. The zookeepers will review these rules before the experience. 


  1. Feed only the food provided. 

  2. Stay behind the fencing. 

  3. Do not pet the giraffes. 

  4. Wash your hands afterward.

  5. Tell others and post a selfie!


Giraffe feeding details


Giraffe Feedings are offered on the following:


Dates: April 29th through September 30th (plus weekends in October)

Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (weather permitting)

Price: $10.00

Location: Habitat Africa: The Savannah (31st Street Walkway)


The Chicago Zoological Society is proud to partner with the Reticulated Giraffe Project. This project supports conservation, advocacy, and education about giraffes' native habitats. Despite their iconic status, fewer giraffes than elephants are left in the wild. The support of conservation and advocacy efforts is necessary to protect these gentle giants throughout Africa.


Feed the Giraffes

Why visitors love it

The giraffe feeding exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo is a favorite among visitors for several reasons:


  1. It offers a unique educational experience, allowing visitors to learn about these majestic creatures up close. They can observe their long necks, distinctive spots, and gentle demeanor while learning about their natural habitat, behavior, and conservation status.

  2. Visitors can help contribute to conservation efforts as they feed the giraffes, knowing their support helps sustain these endangered animals in the wild.

  3. It's simply a fun and unforgettable experience to interact with these gentle giants, hand-feeding them leaves and witnessing their graceful movements.

The giraffe feeding exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo is a truly enriching and enjoyable experience that leaves visitors with lasting memories while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these remarkable creatures.


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Giraffe Q & A

How tall can giraffes grow, and how much do they weigh?

Giraffes can grow as tall as 18 feet (5.5 meters) and weigh up to 3,000 pounds (1,400 kilograms) in the wild.

What do giraffes eat in the wild and in captivity?

Wild gaffes primarily eat leaves, flowers, and fruits from trees and bushes. In captivity, their diet usually consists of hay, fruits, vegetables, and specially formulated pellets.

How long is a giraffe's gestation period, and how many babies do they typically have?

The gestation period for a giraffe is typically around 15 months, and they usually have one baby, called a calf, at a time.

Why do giraffes have long necks, and what are their spots' purposes?

Giraffes have long necks adapted to reach high foliage for feeding, and their spots serve as camouflage, helping them blend in with their surroundings in the wild.

What is the lifespan of a giraffe, and how do they adapt to their environment?

The average lifespan of a giraffe is about 25 years in the wild and can reach up to 30 years or more in captivity. They have adapted to their environment through their long necks, unique cardiovascular system, and keen eyesight.

How fast can a giraffe run, and do they have any natural predators?

Giraffes are known for their speed and can run up to 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour) in short bursts. Their natural predators include lions, hyenas, and crocodiles.

What is the social structure of giraffes, and how do they communicate with each other?

Giraffes are social animals that live in loose groups called towers or herds. They communicate through vocalizations, body language, and scent marking.

Are giraffes endangered, and what conservation efforts are being made to protect them?

Giraffes are listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List, and conservation efforts include protecting their natural habitats, anti-poaching measures, and raising awareness about their plight.

How do giraffes sleep, and how much do they sleep?

Giraffes sleep for short periods, usually no more than 30 minutes at a time, and typically sleep while standing or lying down. They require very little sleep compared to other mammals.

Can giraffes be domesticated or kept as pets?

Giraffes are wild animals and are not domesticated. They cannot be kept as pets due to their specialized needs, size, and natural behaviors in the wild. They are best enjoyed in their natural habitats or accredited zoos or sanctuaries where their welfare is ensured.