ZOO OPENS TO MEMBERS JULY 1; GENERAL PUBLIC JULY 8
The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo announces its phased reopening plan after being temporarily closed to guests since March 19 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Zoo members are welcomed to once again enjoy the outdoor areas of the park beginning July 1 and the general public starting July 8.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS. “We have been following guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal government and health agencies to ensure the well-being of our zoo guests, staff, volunteers, and the animals.”
A number of enhanced operational protocols and procedures have been set in place, and it is highly recommended for guests to read through them at CZS.org/KnowBeforeYouGo prior to visiting Brookfield Zoo. Some of these safety practices include:
• To ensure safe social distancing, a reserved timed-ticketing system to limit guest capacity is being implemented. Reservation times will be available in 20-minute increments. All admission and parking tickets must be secured by both members and guests prior to arriving. Reservations for time-ticketing will be available soon at CZS.org. No tickets will be sold on site. All tickets are nonrefundable and no rain checks will made.
• To minimize person-to-person contact, the zoo is instituting a cashless environment—only credit card transactions will be accepted at outdoor food and beverage carts and merchandise kiosks.
• Face coverings are required for guests age 2 and over.
• In order to provide adequate social distancing, at this time, all indoor spaces—animal buildings, restaurants, and gift shops—are temporarily closed. Seasonal food stands and outdoor souvenir carts will be open throughout the zoo.
• Other areas temporarily closed include play areas, splash pads, water misters, drinking fountains, The Carousel, Motor Safari tram rides, and Butterflies! (seasonal exhibit). The goat yard at Hamill Family Play Zoo will also be closed, but guests will still be able to feed the goats from a designated area.
• High-touch areas and restrooms will be sanitized with hospital-grade cleaners and conducted on an increased cleaning schedule.
• Hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the 216-acre park.
• Signage and visual markers will be located throughout the zoo to remind guests to maintain adequate social distancing.
• The zoo will not be distributing its paper map at the gates. Instead, guests can download it from the zoo’s website or use a phone to take a photo of the large map that will be displayed at both the north and south entrances.
Additional operational protocols include all staff having their temperatures checked at the start of each work day, wearing face coverings, and wearing gloves if handling food or product.
In addition to seeing animals, including the zoo’s two male African lions, bears, giraffes, grey seals, wallabies, African painted dogs, and Mexican wolves, in their outdoor habitats, with the reopening of Brookfield Zoo, guests can go back in time—way back to a prehistoric period.
More than 40 life-like, earth-shaking animatronic dinosaurs have descended on the park as part of a temporary exhibit—Dinos Everywhere!. Zoogoers will have the chance to explore outdoor areas and embark on a safari in search of all the dinosaurs, including the Argentinosaurus. This massive dinosaur—measuring more than 100 feet in length and standing three-stories tall—can’t be missed on the zoo’s West Mall.
The interactive exhibit will allow dino lovers of all ages to put their dinosaur knowledge to the test! Guests can answer dino-related trivia questions for an opportunity to win a prize. Not to mention there are plenty of opportunities to snap selfies alongside your favorite prehistoric behemoth. Dinos Everywhere! was created by “Jurassic Park” advisor, Don Lessum and is on loan from Dino Don, Inc. and The Wildlife Conservation Society.
For nature enthusiasts who are looking for a place to venture out and walk around, the zoo’s park-like setting is a perfect destination. Awarded a Level II Accreditation through the ArbNet program in 2013, Brookfield Zoo has more than 100 trees and woody plant species located throughout the park. Visit CZS.org/TreeGuide to download a detailed map that identifies the zoo’s complete list of trees, where they are located, and a brief description about each tree, including images. Then, embark on a self-guided tour to locate some or all of the trees.
Limiting guests to only outdoor areas is the first phase of Brookfield Zoo’s reopening plan. Staff is continuously monitoring local, state, and federal guidelines, including appropriate social distancing and group size, to determine when to increase attendance and allow guests access to indoor animal buildings as well as restaurants and gift shops at reduced capacities.
Admission to Brookfield Zoo, which includes access to Dinos Everywhere!, is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15.
During these unprecedented times, Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months with no revenue coming in from gate admissions and in-park gift shop, restaurant, and catered event sales. In that time, the zoo’s dedicated staff has continued to provide the animals with outstanding care. Support from the public is need now more than ever. Those who would like to help and contribute to the care of the more than 2,000 animals who call Brookfield Zoo home, can visit the zoo’s website at CZS.org/Donate.