Introducing Koalas - Brookfield Zoo Chicago & Other New Animal Friends!

This summer, Brookfield Zoo Chicago is still in full swing celebrating its 90th anniversary and commemorating this milestone with extraordinary exhibits, one-of-a-kind animal encounters, and spectacular additions, including a captivating roster of new zoo animals, and a towering 130-ft Ferris wheel. 


Exemplifying its mission, "Connect. Care. Conserve," Brookfield Zoo Chicago invites guests to become immersed in a world of wonders unlike anything seen at the zoo before. Enriched experiences include exciting new sights and attractions that promote meaningful wildlife connections and global conservation initiatives.



Make New Zoo Friends this Summer!


Two cuddly koalas will join other favorites at the Hamill Family Zoo: Mikey, an adorable gray seal pup born in February to Georgie, a popular 11-year-old seal who, despite being fully blind in one eye and functionally blind in the other, has adapted remarkably well to her Brookfield Zoo Chicago home and is now enjoying motherhood for the first time; and two boisterous Mexican wolf pups have joined the pack at Regenstein Wolf Woods — by the way, one needs a name and the zoo is asking for your help.


Check the Brookfield Zoo Chicago website for updates regarding these exciting additions.


Say “G’day” to Brumby and Willum!


For the first time in its history, Brookfield Zoo Chicago will have koalas in residence, offering guests the unique experience of viewing the extraordinary lifestyle of this popular (and endangered) species from Down Under. Two 2-year-old marsupials joined Brookfield’s popular Hamill Family Play Zoo this summer thanks to a partnership with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and San Diego Zoo’s Koala Education and Conservation Project. Brookfield Zoo Chicago is one of only 11 accredited zoological facilities in North America where visitors can see and experience these unique and fascinating animals.


Surely, koalas are one of the world’s most famous (and honestly, cutest) animals. These “awww”-inducing marsupials are found only in the wild on the southeast and eastern sides of Australia, along the coastlines of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, high up in eucalyptus trees of native bushlands and forests. Impossibly adorable baby koalas, called joeys, develop in their mother’s pouch for about six months and then ride along on mum’s back for another six months, only using the pouch to feed and sleep.


Koalas have a very specific diet. Brookfield Zoo Chicago treats Brumby and Willum to rotating varieties of fresh eucalyptus leaves twice weekly. They are one of only a few animals that eat these toxic plants that are highly poisonous to most other animals. The koala has specialized gut bacteria that break down the lethal leaves, extracting the water and a few nutrients.


Because their diet is so low in nutrients, koalas need more sleep than most animals, which helps them conserve energy. A koala spends most of its time, up to 18-22 hours a day, soundly sleeping while perched among the branches high up in eucalyptus trees where they find the leaves they prefer. Living wedged between rough branches requires a lot of support. Luckily, strong cartilage at the end of the koala’s curved spine allows them to make eucalyptus trees a comfortable home. 


Although you might hear the term “koala bear” tossed around, there is no relation. When the first English-speaking settlers observed koalas in Australia, they thought the unusual animal with its round ears and big black nose looked like a small bear. Koalas are more closely related to other marsupials (pouched mammals) like the wombats and kangaroos, which can be seen at the Zoo’s Australia House.


Sadly, koala numbers in the wild are on the decline and are being pushed even further toward the brink of extinction. Deforestation, fragmentation of its habitat for development, bushfires, disease, and drought threaten the species. Koalas are listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) in its native land of Australia.


If you are interested in supporting the care of the koalas at Brookfield Zoo Chicago, you can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. The Friend Package ($35) includes:


  • A personalized certificate of adoption.
  • A 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of a koala.
  • A fact sheet on the species.
  • An Animal Adoption program decal.
  • An invitation to the exclusive 2024 Animal Adoption summer event.


The Plush Package ($65) includes all the benefits of the Friend Package, plus an adorable 12-inch plush koala and four free tickets to the Animal Adoption evening in 2024.


To purchase, visit


Visit Brumby and Willum at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Hamill Family Play Zoo, which is now free year-round with general admission. 



Hey, Mikey!


Finally, Mikey, the gray seal pup born in February to its 11-year-old mother, Georgette (nicknamed “Georgie”) is ready to meet friends and fans at Sea Lion Cove. Born weighing nearly 35 pounds, with silky white fur called lanugo (pronounced la-NOO-go), Mikey now has a coat of sleek spotted gray fur and, after gaining 15 pounds in his first week, tops the scales at more than 100 pounds and boasts a thick layer of blubber. A gray seal mother’s milk is extremely rich in fat, and it is not unusual for a pup to gain several pounds a day during its first few weeks of life. In the wild, gray seal pups need to grow quickly because, once weaned, they need to be able to fend for themselves as they go out to sea to hunt for food. 


Georgie was found as a pup, stranded on an island in the Atlantic Ocean near Maine, in 2013. Fully blind in her left eye and functionally blind in her right eye, authorities from the National Marine Fisheries Service deemed her unreleasable back to the wild. This is Georgie’s first time experiencing motherhood since she arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2020.


Brookfield Zoo Chicago staff tracked Mikey’s progress, charting nursing sessions and developmental milestones, including alertness, mobility, and weight, and posted training updates on social media. As he learned to swim, Mikey stayed in a freshwater pool modified to allow him easy access in and out of the water. He is enjoying his new home now that he has joined the others in Sea Lion Cove. There are currently only 22 gray seals in seven accredited U.S. zoos and aquariums. With six, Brookfield Zoo Chicago has the largest group of individuals.


Found in the Western North Atlantic, the Eastern North Atlantic, and the Baltic Sea, the gray seal is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, the species still faces threats such as entanglement in fishing gear, illegal hunting, chemical contaminants, vehicular traffic on beaches, and climate change.



Introducing Sierra & Molly, the New Wolf Pups


The pack at Brookfield Zoo Chicago is growing! Two endangered Mexican wolf pups, now officially named Sierra and Molly, were born on April 27, a part of a litter of nine. 


Seven of the pups — six males and one female — were placed into wild Mexican wolf dens in New Mexico as part of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, a multi-agency conservation effort to increase the wild population for this species in the southwest U.S. and Mexico. Mexican wolves are the rarest wolf subspecies, and zoos serve a vital role in conserving the species through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program. Brookfield Zoo Chicago has participated in the recovery program since 2003.


The two pups remaining at Brookfield Zoo Chicago are spending more time outside of their den at Regenstein Wolf Woods. Guests can see them along with older brother Ahote, born in 2023, and parents, 5-year-old Vivilette and 11-year-old Amigo.

If you are interested in supporting the care of the Mexican wolves at Brookfield Zoo Chicago, you can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. 


The Friend Package ($35) includes a personalized certificate of adoption, a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of a Mexican wolf, a fact sheet on the species, an Animal Adoption program decal, and an invitation to the exclusive 2024 Animal Adoption summer event. 


To purchase, visit


Other Attractions at Brookfield Zoo Chicago


The dolphins are back at Brookfield Zoo Chicago and adjusting to their new habitat. The remodel includes 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. Visit for information, times, and ticket prices for the Dolphins in Action presentations.


Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s popular program, Wild Connections offers visitors once-in-a-lifetime interactions with zoo animals, including penguins, sharks, giraffes, sharks, river otters, and more. These unforgettable experiences led by animal care professionals provide hands-on encounters as well as valuable insights into each species.


Visit Tropic World and The Living Coast exhibits and take a ride on the new 110-foot tall anniversary Ferris wheel, a massive sky wheel with 24 gondolas that illuminate brightly during evening hours and events.



Planning Your Visit to Brookfield Zoo Chicago


Brookfield Zoo Chicago offers a captivating variety of exhibits and attractions, making it an ideal place to observe nature and wildlife. As a hub for conservation, education, and discovery, the zoo provides a wonderful experience for visitors of all ages. 


Make your entry process easier by purchasing tickets in advance, visit to purchase tickets online.


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 aged 2 and under. 

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



Helpful Tips for Your Visit 


Get acquainted with the zoo before you go. Download a Brookfield Zoo Chicago map to strategically navigate the exhibits and plan your encounters with your favorite animals.


It can be helpful to wear comfortable shoes and pack sunscreen, snacks, and a refillable water bottle. Concessions are available throughout the park, as well as delicious restaurant offerings like BZ Red Hots, Cafe Del Sol, Cup & Cone, and more. 


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. 


Please be aware that strollers are not allowed in certain exhibits like Tropic World, Australia House, The Fragile Kingdom, or Seven Seas Dolphin Discovery. However, stroller parking is conveniently available next to these exhibit entrances.


Become a Zoo Member Today


Consider a zoo membership! There is a lot of ground to cover when you visit this 216-acre park, one of the largest zoos in Illinois, and many residents visit multiple times a year and plan each trip according to specific interests, special events, and time available. 

With a zoo membership, you can save on the cost of every visit and enjoy 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 to explore customized options. 



Meet Us at Brookfield Zoo Chicago


Whether you're a first-time visitor or returning for a closer look at a favorite exhibit, Brookfield Zoo Chicago promises your days will be filled with adventure and entertainment seamlessly blended with learning and enjoyment.