News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 28, 2017

Brookfield Zoo “Goes Blue” for Autism Awareness

            Brookfield, Ill. – On Sunday, April 2, Brookfield Zoo is partnering with Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, to take part in the annual Zoos Go Blue campaign. The event takes place at select AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across North America during World Autism Awareness Month. To commemorate the day, the zoo’s iconic lion statues will be clothed in blue scarves, and blue flags will decorate the park’s grounds.
            “We are excited to partner with Autism Speaks again this year and be able to provide families who have children on the autism spectrum with an opportunity to enjoy the zoo in a fun and relaxed environment,” said Jennifer Baader, vice president of government affairs for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo.
            Throughout the day, special “Zoos Go Blue” activities will be taking place for families with children on the autism spectrum. The zoo has also designated a quiet/break area when downtime is needed in the Safari Riverside Room, which is located on the lower level of BZ Red Hots restaurant.
            From 11:00 a.m. to noon, the Carousel will have a “quiet hour” with its music turned off. At 1:00 p.m., families can attend a sensory-friendly Dolphins in Action presentation with welcoming remarks from Illinois State Representative Patricia Bellock and Colleen Shinn, outreach manager for Autism Speaks’ Chicagoland Chapter. In addition, special animal Zoo Chats are also scheduled. During these informal talks, families can enjoy up-close interactions with animals. At 11:00 a.m., guests can head to the ITW White Oak Room to learn more about the red-tailed hawk, and at 1:00 p.m., guests can meet and a boa constrictor in Hamill Family Play Zoo.
            The zoo also has several “care kits” that can be checked out by families that include noise-reducing headphones, hard copies of visual schedules, autism stickers, safety alert badges and ID bracelets in case a child gets separated from his or her family.
            Also to help families prepare for their visit, several adaptive tools can be downloaded from the zoo’s website at These tools include a visual schedule and a story about the zoo’s Living Coast exhibit that, through illustrations and written descriptions, can help prepare a child for what he or she will see and may feel during their visit.
            “Autism Speaks is thrilled and proud to partner with the Chicago Zoological Society in the Zoos Go Blue campaign and will continue to work together to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder. We are looking forward to celebrating the autism community on this very special day,” said Shinn.
            The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 68 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Autism spectrum disorders, some of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, are caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences, and are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, 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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Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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