News Release                                             Contact : Sondra Katzen
June 19, 2014                                                                                      Public Relations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

Governor Quinn Announces $750,000 Investment in Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill.— The State of Illinois will invest $750,000 in support of individuals with disabilities as well as the estimated 64 percent of families who bring young children under the age of 5 to Brookfield Zoo, according to the Office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Through a grant from the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program, the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, will renovate and improve zoo restrooms.

“We are deeply appreciative of the funding from the State of Illinois, whose investment will advance the Chicago Zoological Society’s commitment to inclusion, support guests with disabilities and families with young children, create jobs for Illinois construction workers, and leverage an additional $1.5 million in nonstate funding,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president & CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society.

Brookfield Zoo is one of 47 Illinois institutions that will receive funding from the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The program was open to any museum operated by local governments or located on municipally owned land.

The $750,000 the Society is receiving will be used for renovations and upgrades at restrooms in four high-traffic areas at the zoo, including South Gate, Discovery Center, and the Seven Seas underwater viewing gallery and stadium. The restrooms in all four areas will be upgraded to further enhance ADA accessibility standards. In addition, the restrooms at the South Gate will also feature new family-friendly care areas, allowing opposite-gender parents to take his or her child to the restroom. The total project cost for Brookfield Zoo’s restroom enhancements for guests is estimated at $2.25 million, with the grant funds going toward mechanical and electrical costs.
Since 2012, Brookfield Zoo has welcomed an increased number of guests who have special needs. According to guest surveys administered by Chicago Zoological Society staff, approximately 10 percent of zoo guests have developmental or intellectual disabilities. The Society is making it a priority to accommodate these individuals and has partnered with organizations such as Autism Speaks, Best Buddies of Illinois, and Misericordia to host events throughout the year for these individuals and their families. In the last two years the Society has invested more than $2 million in improving zoo restroom accommodations for guests with disabilities. By 2015, Brookfield Zoo will have three adult-size changing tables, setting a new standard for zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“For 80 years, Brookfield Zoo has invested in the students, teachers, and families of Illinois. Now the State of Illinois is investing in the future of Brookfield Zoo as we collectively work to build an inclusive conservation movement that inspires individuals of all abilities,” Strahl added.

Brookfield Zoo is a potent economic engine that helps drive the region’s economy. In 2014, the zoo will generate more than $150 million in economic activity for the State of Illinois while supporting the jobs of 2,000 Illinois workers. The zoo is also the most popular paid cultural attraction in the Midwest, with more than two million visitors and 115,000 member households last year.

The museum grants are part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest construction program in Illinois history and is one of the largest construction programs in the nation.

The Chicago Zoological Society mission is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

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