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Brookfield Zoo Brookfield Zoo review by csura999

Discussion in 'United States' started by csura999, 30 Aug 2016.

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  1. csura999

    csura999 Active Member

    Joined:
    6 Sep 2015
    Posts:
    35
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Okay guys, here comes my first review! Take it easy on me guys! Hahaha.

    This is my fifth time visiting Brookfield Zoo since September of 2015, but will be my first time actually doing a review of this massive, sprawling zoo right outside of Chicago, IL! I will split this review in to two different parts because really, who wants to read a giant wall of text about a zoo review? <Looks at website> Well, maybe people here, but I will still split the review up! Hahaha.

    Being from Milwaukee, WI a little bit up I-94, Chicago and my city has a lot of things that they compete in, I mean--it goes on and on, and on… As far as zoos go--they kick Milwaukee’s rear end pretty good! Hahaha. But I’m here to still say that my Packers beat their beloved Bears to go to the Super Bowl and win it all a couple years back! But I respect the “Monsters of the Midway,” despite being my team’s oldest rivals.

    But enough about sports, and more about the animals and the zoo itself… This review is based off of my August 27, 2016 visit--my review will go in the order of how me and my girlfriend viewed the exhibits. By the way, this was the day that their beloved feathered friend, Cookie passed away--the last remaining animal from Brookfield Zoo’s opening day in 1934.

    To start, we parked at the North Gate. We made our way under (yes, underneath--it made me feel so awesome the first time I did it--seriously) 31st street and proceeded our way to the admission booths. As soon as you walk in to Brookfield Zoo, past the ticket admission booths-- one of the first things you see is a carousel. Now what is so cool about this carousel? This carousel is the oldest non-restored wooden carousel in the country. So that’s a pretty cool nugget. Would I ever ride it? Probably not… But you bet that I will still throw that fact out there to everybody that comes with me. Hahaha.

    The first area me and my girlfriend went to see here at Brookfield Zoo was towards “The Fragile Desert.” However, before you walk in to the building--you come upon an Amur leopard exhibit! It’s always a thrill to see such a rare species of big cat. It’s an okay exhibit. It is a moderate size, but at least it has its fair share of climbing opportunities. Now, “The Fragile Desert” is an African-themed building that showcases animals such as meerkats, caracal, naked mole rats, rock hyraxes, African bat-eared foxes, and black-footed cats. I like this building a lot. It even features a bridge-like walkway in which you can view the rock hyraxes (who have a cool exhibit) and caracals. Very cool.

    Next up, we went to see the “Big Cats.” These are just grotto habitats, that to me, are very average (at least they have natural substrate). It would be nice to one day see Brookfield Zoo renovate these exhibits and give these felines nice homes. Exhibited here are African lions, amur tigers, sloth bears (bears--cats, two of the same. Hahaha), and snow leopards (which have the best exhibit out of all of them and features glass viewing). Every time we have gone, the snow leopards have been active. So that’s always nice!

    Next up was the newly-renamed “Clouded Leopard Rain Forest” which was once known as “The Fragile Rain Forest.” This building (whose animals are Asian-centric) contains animals such as clouded leopards (an exhibit I really enjoy with its waterfall feature, even though there isn’t much natural lighting), binturongs (another cool habitat, plus the babies were just adorable), fishing cats, and a Prevosts squirrel habitat which has a cool feature in which the squirrel can run around the building in a wire tunnel above the visitors. That’s such a cool quirk.

    Up next was “Pinniped Point.” This set of two separate habitats is home to California sea lions, grey seals, and harbor seals. Featured is both above water viewing, and underwater viewing in which you climb down steps to get to. I like the exhibit, and I enjoy it. There is one California sea lion that is massive, and seeing it swim by the underwater viewing glass was definitely a thrill for me and my girlfriend to see every time. Hahaha.

    After watching the pinnipeds swim around for a bit, we visited “Seven Seas.” The tank here for the common bottlenose dolphins is simple, and may be a tad on the small side--but it truly is a thrill to see some of the smartest animals up close. This is the first time I’ve ever seen these magnificent creatures and it never gets old to see my old friends like Tapeko, Magic, Spree, and the such. We did not attend the dolphin show this time around even though we both really enjoyed it when we went to go see it last year.

    We did not visit the "Hamill Family Play Zoo." We visited it in the winter last year, and enjoyed it (even if an emu ran at us full speed and scared the heebejeebes out of us), but I don't think I will ever pay for it.

    This day, they were setting up tents for their Beer Garden-like event. Personally, beer disgusts me (how weird for a Wisconsinite to say that?! Hahaha), and she doesn’t care much for it, either (yes!). So we just walked right on by and continued our walk to a building that ruffles feathers of so many: Some love it, some dislike it--“Tropic World.” It is divided in to three different sections representing three different continents: South America, Asia, and Africa. Now, “Tropic World” is a massive complex. Simply humongous. At one time, I believe it was the largest indoor zoo building in the whole world

    You start off with South America section, first. In this section are golden lion tamarins, black-handed spider monkeys, cotton-topped tamarins, and on the floor--two giant anteaters (who need their own outdoor exhibit), and other bird and primate species. Next is the Asia section, which is home to orangutans, white-cheeked gibbons, and Asian small-clawed otters. And to finish off “Tropic World,” the final section is Africa--which is home to animals such as colobus monkeys, Allen’s swamp monkeys, and the western lowland gorilla habitat. I don’t mind “Tropic World’s” size one bit, or the great climbing opportunities it gives its primate inhabitants. But there are a few faults with it: It looks very artificial--very unrealistic. Some foliage cover would be substantial. And two: The orangutans and gorillas need outdoor habitats in the worst way. Their current “Tropic World” homes would be fine for winter, but definitely not as a permanent home as they have been for decades. Thirdly, the path should not go all the way around the gorilla habitat. I do not like that design at all.

    Part 2 of my review/Wall of text coming, eventually! Thanks for reading guys!
     
  2. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Good start. I should probably start working on my own reviews... If my calculations are correct I am 8 months and 1 week behind... :p
     
  3. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    874
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    so far good review
     
  4. csura999

    csura999 Active Member

    Joined:
    6 Sep 2015
    Posts:
    35
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thank you guys! I appreciate it! Do it, Jay! I'll read them all! Hahaha.

    After our “Tropic World” adventure, we walked all the back and visited “The Swamp.” I’m sensitive to the heat (Oily face alert), and the humidity of this place immediately smacked me in the face, but that’s good. This is “The Swamp” after all! Another thing is the floor--it feels like you’re walking on mud. They coated the floor in rubber, so that’s a fantastic touch. First time I walked on it, it actually freaked me out and I checked the bottom of my shoe. Hahaha. The is a very immersive building. The exhibits are pretty darn sweet in here (for the most part). The first part of the complex has animals on display such as snowy egrets, little blue herons, Orinoco crocodiles, piranhas, and many species of snakes and lizards. The second part of “The Swamp” is home to many invertebrates such as a black widow spider, and an African giant millipede--very cool to see small creatures up close here. The third part is an Illinois area. Now I feel like this is the weakest part of “The Swamp.” Their river otters really should be outside, but the alligator snapping turtle exhibit is pretty cool in this section as are the other small turtles and the gar.

    Afterwards, we trekked our way to the “Reptiles and Birds” building. This is a pretty simple complex compared to the previous ones, but it still is home to many unique animals such as Bali mynahs, crested wood partridge, argus monitors, and Micronesian kingfishers. South American birds such as macaws, currasows, and aracari are featured in a separate room in which they have unrestricted fences to immerse the guests. Other animals featured here were Indian star tortoises, Galapagos giant tortoises (speaking of tortoises, their outdoor area by the Formal Pool was being worked on), San Esteban Island chuckwallas, Gila monsters, Mexican beaded lizards, and a black and white tegu. The Panamanian golden frog breeding program headed by Brookfield Zoo is doing great and plans to re-introduce these rare amphibians back in to their natural habitat where they’re believed to be extinct.

    After visiting our scaled and feathered friends at one building, we visited another simple complex that contains more birds and reptiles: “Feathers and Scales.” This isn’t a “knock your socks off” complex much like the other, earlier buildings in this review, but it still has some nice exhibits. Their new desert habitat on the right side of the building contains roadrunners, and gambel’s quails. It’s a solid habitat, and next to it is an African rainforest habitat that contains Congo peafowl. In the middle of the building are various glass enclosures that are home to many species of snakes, tortoises, and smaller reptiles. Black tree monitors, leopard tortoises, Aruba Island rattlesnakes, rosy boas, Chicago garter snakes and five-lined skinks are among the many reptiles that call these habitats home. The eye-level varies among these exhibits, so look high, and look low, too! The best exhibit in this building is that of the South American birds. They recently renovated this habitat to have an opening in the fence so you can watch birds like the curl-crested aracari, sunbittern, and the Andean cock-of-the-rock fly around. This is a very large, and lusciously planted habitat and I love sitting down and enjoying the animals. Outside, is a huge aviary attached to the building that is home to the massive Andean condor.

    The next section of Brookfield Zoo we saw was “The Living Coast.” This is a very nice building. Definitely one of my favorites to visit here in this massive zoo. The first habitats you see when you walk in include a sexy shrimp (never in my life have I heard of this creature until I came here. Hahaha), and even an upside down jellyfish exhibit. And as you proceed on, you see exhibits for creatures such as large and smallmouth bass, bluegill (the Lake Michigan exhibit here in Milwaukee spoils us--it is fantastic and made this seem so mediocre), various African cichlids, cownose rays, and cardinalfish. A favorite habitat of this mine in this building is a massive tank that contains animals such as the California sheephead, leopard shark, kelp bass, and last year I saw a moray eel in this habitat, but did not see it this time around. You make your way past other exhibits--including a very cool reef habitat, but another favorite habitat of mine comes up: The Humboldt penguin, grey gull, and Incan tern exhibit. The cliff wall backdrop of the habitat is nicely done, and this area is spacious which allows the free-flying birds to go where ever they please in this large dome structure. In the cliff walls behind you are exhibits that are home to a Soloman Islands leaf frog, a Brazilian rainbow boa, and a Puerto Rican tarantula--I believe. “The Living Coast” is awesome.

    Next up, me and my girlfriend made our way to see two of some of my favorite animals--the American bison and grizzly bear at “Great Bear Wilderness.” The first habitat we seen was that of the bald eagle--I believe this raptor cannot fly, and is permanently housed here at Brookfield Zoo. It’s an okay habitat for our national symbol. Secondly we seen the absolute best exhibit in the entire zoo: “Regenstein Wolf Woods.” This Mexican grey wolf exhibit astounded me when it was featured on Ultimate Zoo (I miss this program a lot!), and getting to see it in-person never gets old. It looks amazing! The fences are basically non-existent and the wolves have been breeding a lot as of late. I did not see the new pups this time, nor any wolves but one this time, but that will never change my perception on this fantastic exhibit. The indoor viewing area with the controllable camera is such a neat feature. Next up, are three different habitats for the zoo’s grizzly bears and polar bears. Two of these exhibits feature underwater viewing, while the other features a look inside of a maternity cave for the bears. This last time me and my girlfriend could not stop laughing at the grizzly that was sitting on a rock with half of its body underwater, while the other half was above the water. Hahaha. The last habitat here is a very nicely sized yard which is home to the massive American bison. It is a big paddock, and has many viewing opportunities. The best part is that the American bison are actually able to walk over the visitors due to how their habitat is built. I personally feel the bison have the best exhibit in “Great Bear Wilderness.” The audio playing stampeding bison is a nice touch as you walk through this tunnel. The fact that they integrated “Regenstein Wolf Woods” into newer “Great Bear Wilderness” is awesome.

    The very next exhibit we seen was the African wild dogs. These dogs are awesome creatures and it truly is a thrill to be able to see such a captivating carnivore. They are beautiful animals. Secondly, we went in to the “Kopjie,” which is a building shaped like a rock-like lodge. Inside of this African-themed area, are the winter home to klipspringers (which we did not see this time), dwarf mongoose, some reptiles, and various species of birds. This is a neat habitat--I missed being able to watch the klipspringers climb rocks to eye level. They are cool species of antelope, so tiny and “cute” in the words of my girlfriend. Hahaha. You can also see the African wild dogs through glass here and see the giraffe yard. They put in a new tortoise habitat (The African spur-thighed tortoises were not with the giraffes on this day--or at least I did not see any) right outside that you can view through glass here now--I don’t recall seeing this last year.

    After this, we went to visit “Habitat Africa! The Forest.” This area in which a long, winding path through a heavily wooded area invites you to the home of animals such as the rare and captivating okapi (still can’t believe I finally got to see one!), red river hogs, yellow-back duikers, blue duikers, red-flanked duikers, and an awesome species of elephant shrew in the indoor part of this section. The okapi program has been pretty successful at Brookfield, and that is a fantastic thing for the future of this rare species from the Congo Rainforest. I would like to see more vegetation in these exhibits, if possible--the hogs will be impossible to keep vegetation in. Hahaha.

    After venturing out of “Habitat Africa! The Forest,” we made our way to a huge, grass-filled watering hole exhibit that contains Brookfield Zoo’s reticulated giraffes. This is “Habitat Africa! The Savannah.” I like this exhibit! It’s a huge exhibit for these guys, and the fact that the African wild dogs can view them is a really cool feature for both animals. I would love to see another species or two added with the giraffes because this exhibit has plenty of space!

    Next up on our trek, we walked the path along “Hoofed Animals.” These are simple, very unexciting exhibits. But it’s always a thrill to see rare animals such as addax, and Przewalski’s horse. The other two species represented here are Grevy’s zebra, and Bactrian camels. Again, very unexciting and basic section, but seeing two rare animals is a cool treat.

    The second to last area we visited was “Australia.” The outdoor areas contain multiple habitats for emu, and Bennett’s wallaby, and Western grey kangaroos. The cape barren goose is I believe, in the former cassowary yard (I really wish I could’ve seen one!). The indoor section has a couple of simple habitats constructed in to walls (with animals such as ridge-tailed monitor, carpet python, and cane toads) and a new bird exhibit named “Pretty Birds” that is home to various species of finches. Through a door, we walked in to the nocturnal section which is full of plenty of cool animals that I never seen until I went to Brookfield Zoo: Short-beaked echidnas, Southern hairy-nosed wombats, and a couple of Rodriguez flying foxes (I love how they are free-roaming)!

    After we made our way out of there, I realized that we didn’t see a couple of things! A few “big” things. Hahaha. So after this, we made our way to the “Pachyderms” section. We did not unfortunately see the pygmy hippopotamus on this day, but we did see the Baird’s tapir, and the Eastern black rhinoceros (I actually got to feed the rhino a treat! I threw it in to the exhibit--WITH the discretion of a volunteer of course). These exhibits are pretty big in size for the most part, and I would love to see more animals get added. We did not go inside of the pachyderm building on this visit--at this point we were very hungry and we wanted to go to Burger Antics (an amazing place to fetch a burger, by the way). Hahaha. On the tail swing out we walked by the waterbuck and warthog exhibit, as well which is part of “Habitat Africa! The Savannah,” and the last exhibit we visited here at Brookfield Zoo.

    To conculde: Out of all the zoos I have visited, Brookfield Zoo is easily the best one I have been to--my girlfriend agrees too! Hahaha. It definitely tops my home zoo back here in Milwaukee, WI--pretty handily. I always enjoy my visits here at the Brookfield Zoo, and this last trip was definitely not an exception. I would love to see Brookfield definitely update a couple of exhibits, of course--that’s every zoo: Every zoo can use updating in some way. But for the most part: Brookfield Zoo is an amazing place to spend an afternoon with plenty of solid habitats and get in touch with nature!
     
  5. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Aug 2016
    Posts:
    874
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    Very good review, I also miss ultimate zoo. a few notes
    -the African tortoise yard by the giraffes is not new its been there for about 7 years or so
    -You may have not saw the klipspringers because there in their summer yard in beetween giraffes and the waterbuck/warthog
    -the barren geese are in the former cassowary yard (I miss them)
    -Even though I have been going to this scense I was born, My favorate has to be san diego zoo but that's just me
    Once again great review
     
  6. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Posts:
    2,017
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Good finale. I keep trying to get a good plan to make it to Chicago (I have family in Saint Louis, so an extended journey to or from would be nice). I was supposed to visit the Shedd Aquarium and one of the two zoos on a plane layover when I was little, but the airline messed something up and we ended up in Dallas, without time for any trips, instead. Oh well.

    Don't diss the Cape Barren geese! They're one of my favorites :p.