Things just got a bit more interesting at Brookfield Zoo! If you’ve ever thought mingling with a penguin would be a cool way to spend a day or chatting up a giraffe while you hand-feed him his grub would make for a sweet Instagram-worthy moment, your dreams have come true. Read on to hear how the zoo is giving visitors the opportunity to meet their favorite feathered and lanky friends.

Take a walk on the cold side.
More than likely, a trip to Brookfield Zoo is on your summer bucket list. As you plan your day immersed in all things animal, be sure to leave time to waddle over to The Living Coast for quality time with the penguins. Every day from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the zoo offers guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with these smartly dressed birds. The 45-minute sessions begin with a member of the animal care staff sharing fun facts and instructing guests on how to safely interact with the resident Humboldt penguins.

During the encounter, penguins are free to roam and interact with anyone they choose. Much like humans, penguins have distinct personalities and interests and you’ll get to see this firsthand. One may be camera-shy, while another may be up for becoming the star of your day’s Insta story.  Before bidding farewell to your new friends, remember the color of the band on their wing so you can easily identify them on your next visit.

The fine print: These $40 encounters are available year-round, but are limited to 20 guests per session. Reservations are required and can be made online or in the Coast Gift Shop next to the exhibit. Participants must be 5 years or older and an adult must accompany anyone under the age of 18.

Journey to Africa and be back by dinner time.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the penguins make your way to Habitat Africa! The Savannah to come face to . . . . errrrr, neck? . . . with the giraffes. Through Labor Day from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., guests can purchase a tasty $10 green treat for the reticulated giraffes and feed these magnificent creatures. You’ll also get a bit of education as an animal care specialist will be on hand to answer questions and share information about the zoo’s giraffe herd.  The encounter is offered daily on a first-come, first-served basis or until all greens are gone, weather permitting.

Other Brookfield Zoo happenings. 
If animals with scales and super sharp teeth are more your speed, you’re in luck! Now thru September 17, the zoo’s temporary Dinos and Dragons exhibit features 17 animatronic creatures, including Stegosaurs, Apatosaurus, Pteranodon, Triceratops, T-Rex and Chinese Dragon. For more information on this exhibit, read our story Go Back in Time with Brookfield Zoo’s Dinos & Dragons.

A warm weather favorite is back for it’s 4th year, Summer Nights, featuring an enhanced dining, beer and wine garden, live music, roaming performers, kid entertainment and a new laser show all surrounded by wildlife and nature (and in the cooler temps of evening!). The remaining Summer Nights dates are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., July 21-22 & 28-29, August 4-5 & 11-12.

And one more thing, just for the adults, is the Zoo Brew held in the East Mall, August 25 and 26.  Enjoy lagers alongside lions and cheers your beer next to the bears at this one-of-a-kind 21 and over beer tasting event featuring over 80 beers. General admission is $55 ($35 for designated driver) and $85 for VIP admission ($45 for VIP designated driver).

Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Rd.
Brookfield
Online: czs.org

Have you experienced these encounters at Brookfield Zoo? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers

Photos courtesy of Brookfield Zoo