June 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sondra Katzen
Brookfield Zoo Plans Celebration for Milestone—75 Years of
Wildlife Conservation and Leadership on July 1
Free Kids’ Admission, Musical Performances, and Celebrations Honor Zoo’s History
Brookfield, IL—Since opening its gates to the public on July 1, 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo has been a world-class leader in animal care, conservation, and education, inspiring millions of people to gain a greater appreciation for nature. To show its gratitude for more than seven decades of community support, the zoo is planning a year-long celebration that includes free admission for children ages 11 and under on June 29 and 30 and July 1, presented by Meijer. On Wednesday, July 1, there will be activities throughout the day to commemorate the zoo’s 75th anniversary.
“For 75 years, Brookfield Zoo has welcomed generations of families as they experience a very special connection with wildlife. Now it’s our turn to thank our dedicated supporters for making Brookfield Zoo’s 75th anniversary a reason to celebrate,” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of Chicago Zoological Society.
The zoo’s July 1 anniversary bash will feature a special ceremony at 1:00 p.m. with comments from Strahl, who will share some of the many highlights from the zoo’s rich history. Afterwards, guests can join staff in singing “Happy Birthday” to Brookfield Zoo and enjoy a piece of birthday cake courtesy of Meijer, also celebrating its 75th year. Meijer is also providing special treats for some of the animals.
Following the ceremony, the band Tributosaurus will entertain guests on the zoo’s East Mall with a musical tribute to the decades. Also, there will be several performances throughout the day by members of the Chicago Cultural Alliance, a consortium of Chicago-area ethnic museums and cultural centers. And, guests can purchase 75 cent hot dogs, 24 ounce fountain cokes, and ice cream novelties at the zoo’s restaurants on June 29 and 30 and July 1.
In addition, guests can take a piece of the zoo’s history home with them by purchasing a copy of Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Zoological Society, a recently published paperback book that includes images of the zoo from the day it first opened through the present day. The book’s authors, Douglas Deuchler and Carla Owens, will be signing copies of the book between 10:00 a.m. and noon.
A long line of “firsts” has marked the zoo’s history, including being one of the first zoos in North America to exhibit animals in barless enclosures. Brookfield Zoo also exhibited the first giant pandas in North America and was the first zoo in the country to have black rhino (1941) and okapi (1959) births. Brookfield Zoo was the site of one of the country’s first zoo animal hospitals in 1952. In the mid-1980s, it launched its animal nutrition program, one of only a few zoos in the county with this capacity, by hiring a Ph.D.-trained nutritionist, specializing in exotic animals, to formulate diets for its entire animal collection. The world’s first inland dolphinarium was created at Brookfield Zoo in 1960, and the first immersive rain-forest exhibit—Tropic World—opened in the ‘80s. The award-winning Hamill Family Play Zoo opened in 2001 and quickly became the model for interactive nature experiences, paving the way for the new discipline of conservation psychology.
Brookfield Zoo has also gained prominence as a center for many conservation programs, spending millions over the last several decades on a wide range of research, from population genetics and animal nutrition to endocrinology, behavioral studies, and ecological restoration. The work of the Chicago Zoological Society has now extended around the world, with long-term research on bottlenose dolphins, western lowland gorillas, African lions, and other species.
Building on that legacy, the zoo has been preparing for its 75th anniversary for the past few years with a series of exhibit renovations and additions, all part of a 15-year Strategic/Master Plan that began in 2004. The year-long celebration will culminate with the opening of Great Bear Wilderness, scheduled to open in spring 2010. The new exhibit will feature iconic creatures from the wilds of North America, including bald eagles, bison, brown bears, polar bears, and Mexican gray wolves. In addition, the zoo recently renovated and expanded its elephant yard, as well as added several guest amenities such as The Carousel and a three-season outdoor venue for private functions.
“This is a very exciting time to be part of Brookfield Zoo,” said Strahl. “We were recently honored by being voted the No. 2 zoo in North America by Parents magazine for offering family-friendly experiences that engage children and foster their relationship with animals and nature,” said Strahl. In addition, the Chicago Zoological Society was named one of the recipients of the 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for community service provided by museums and libraries. The annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, recognizes institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities. Within the last decade, the Society has exponentially expanded its outreach and programming, working with community groups, libraries, schools, and community members, particularly focusing on Chicago’s underserved and multi-ethnic neighborhoods.
“The anniversary not only gives us a chance to showcase our achievements in conservation and education, but allows us to look forward as well,” Strahl added. “We will not only celebrate the opening of Great Bear Wilderness, we also have strong plans to emphasize continued development of the Center for Conservation Leadership and the Center for the Science of Animal Well-Being—two programs that inspire future leaders to conserve and protect the natural world and promote advancement in animal care and community education. From free after-school programs and career opportunities for students to leadership councils and community-based initiatives, we’re dedicated to inspiring the future generations of conservation leaders.”
General zoo admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $8. Brookfield Zoo is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and managed by the Chicago Zoological Society. Its mission is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield 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 www.CZS.org.
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