Feed a giraffe, hang with a sea lion for an afternoon, get close enough to smooch a coyote. Sounds like bits from a kid’s ultimate bucket list, right? Make their dreams come true with wildlife encounters at Chicago’s zoos, aquariums and an animal rescue park. Read on, take notes and prepare to take a walk on the wild side.

photo: Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo Giraffe Feeding

Although they spend much of their day grazing, giraffes have never been known to say no to a meal. Twice a day throughout the summer, kids can stop by Habitat Africa: The Savannah to deliver delicious greens the giraffes will take right from their hand.

Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield
Hours: May 29-Oct. 3, daily & Oct. 9-Oct. 31, weekends only; 10:30 a.m.-noon & 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: No additional cost
Online: czs.org

photo: Maria Chambers

Brookfield Zoo's Hamill Family Wild Encounters

Covering just over 3-acres, Brookfield Zoo’s Hamill Family Wild Encounters features unforgettable hands-on experiences that include opportunities to touch and feed animals. Purchase seed sticks and play feeder to hundreds of colorful parakeets that happily land on your hand, watch the kids giggle as goats nibble on their shoelaces and experience the friendliness of wallabies as they welcome you into their enclosure. There are also up-close encounters with red pandas, llamas, alpacas and reindeer as well as a rotating selection of animal ambassadors.

Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: general admission plus additional $6/adults, $3/ages 3-11
Online: czs.org