Brookfield Zoo is located in Brookfield, Illinois, just 15 miles southeast of Chicago off of Interstate 55. It is open daily throughout the year, though the hours change on a seasonal basis, so be sure to check their website before planning your trip. General admission is $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and children. Special exhibits may cost extra.
The Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Zoological Society that runs it are committed to educating visitors of all ages about animals and animal conservation. One way they do that is by creating thematic exhibits that highlight the animals of a particular habitat. For example, the Fragile Desert exhibit highlights meerkats, caracals, bat-eared foxes, and other animals that inhabit the fringes of the Sahara Desert in North Africa. Other thematic exhibits include the Living Coast (the shores of Chile and Peru), Habitat Africa! - The Savannah and Salt Creek Wilderness (animals indigenous to Illinois).
In addition to the exhibits, there are many other activities at the Brookfield Zoo. Zoo chats give visitors a chance to talk to the zookeepers about certain animals. Sometimes the animals even make an appearance themselves! Wild Encounters is a program that lets visitors shadow a zookeeper and see the behind the scenes workings of a zoo. One can shadow a sea-lion training session, help to feed the penguins, or see the great apes up close. The cost of these programs can be steep, but it is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience.
At the children's zoo, kids are given the chance to interact closely with barnyard animals, petting sheep, feeding goats, and learning about milking cows. However, the Brookfield children's zoo also features some more unusual animals such as reindeer, hawks, and snakes.