Lectures & Presentations

Fall Lecture Series

Our exciting Lecture Series features an array of fascinating topics. The best part: you can tune in from the comfort of your own home! We hope you can join us on these virtual expeditions where we will learn from the experts about Brookfield Zoo's rich history, incredible animals, and innovative conservation programs. 

Caring for Whales and Dolphins in Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

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Speaker: Dr. Lisa Lauderdale, CZS Animal Welfare Scientist

Monitoring the welfare of the dolphins is a critical component of providing excellent care in a professionally managed institution. Learn how researchers study whale and dolphin welfare and about the findings from a collaborative study conducted at 43 locations. You’ll hear how habitat characteristics, environmental enrichment, and animal training are related to multiple measures of welfare and about a new welfare tool, developed by the Chicago Zoological Society.

Dr. Lisa Lauderdale, CZS Animal Welfare Scientist, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2016 to collect data with the dolphins at Seven Seas for her dissertation project. After graduating, she joined the Seven Seas staff as a seasonal animal care specialist working with bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, grey seals, and harbor seals. Subsequently, she accepted a post-doctoral fellow position in the Conservation Science and Animal Welfare Research Department to conduct the largest-ever study of cetacean welfare in accredited zoos and aquariums. Today, Dr. Lauderdale is focused on developing new tools to investigate and monitor welfare.


Halloween Animals: Bats, Wolves, and Creepy Crawlies

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Speaker: André Copeland, CZS Interpretive Programs Manager

Why do wolves howl at the moon? What does spotting a spider on Halloween mean? Join us as we compare fact and fiction behind some of Brookfield Zoo’s most popular Halloween animal residents. We will explore their connections to folklore and the idea that their long-term attachment to cultural beliefs may provide people with a sense of place.

André Copeland, CZS Interpretive Programs Manager, has more than 27 years’ experience working in the zoological field which includes animal care, program development and management, frontline interpretation. His passion is creating a bridge for people to connect with nature, especially the creatures of the night.


Between the Guano and the Sea: Exploring Punta San Juan, Peru

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Speakers: Susana Cárdenas Alayza, Biologist

The Punta San Juan Program, founded in 1979, is a Peruvian based marine conservation initiative focused on one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems. A team of on-site biologists and researchers work in collaboration with others around the globe to understand the ecology, behavior and threats of resident marine top predator species like Humboldt penguins, guanay cormorants, South American sea lions and Peruvian fur seals. Program Director, Susana Cárdenas Alayza, will share long-term lessons learned over the years and the challenges of counting animals, understanding food sources, and coordinating sustainable guano harvests that will keep these marine mammals safe for generations to come.

Susana Cárdenas Alayza is a Peruvian biologist graduated from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, with a Master's degree in Zoology from The University of British Columbia, Canada and is currently pursuing doctoral studies between the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru and the University of Montpellier in France. Her research focuses on the population and trophic ecology of top predators, through the use of different methodologies such as censuses, diet analyses, foraging behavior and stable isotopes. Since 2013, Susana has served as the Director of the Punta San Juan Program. In addition, she is a professor at the Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia where she supervises several students who develop research projects on marine ecology and conservation; and she participates in several technical committees that evaluate status of endangered species, marine protected areas and conservation of marine biodiversity.


Tails from the Front: The Extraordinary Veterinary Care of the Brookfield Zoo

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Speaker: Dr. Michael Adkesson, President & CEO of the Chicago Zoolgical Society

Join Dr. Mike Adkesson, CZS Vice President of Clinical Medicine, as he shares information about a number of well-known and challenging medical cases at Brookfield Zoo. Whether it is a CT scan and sinus surgery for Layla rhino, a total hip replacement surgery for Malena tiger, or cataract surgery for a sea lion, the CZS veterinary team is pushing the boundaries of zoological medicine.

Dr. Michael Adkesson is the Vice President of Clinical Medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo, where he oversees the veterinary team, hospital operations, and medical care of the animals at Brookfield Zoo. He is a board-certified specialist in zoological medicine by both the American College of Zoological Medicine and the European College of Zoological Medicine. A past-president of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, Dr. Adkesson is actively involved in many professional organizations, and holds an adjunct faculty appointment with the University of Illinois. He is the author over a hundred peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings, and has trained numerous veterinary students and residents. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree with honors from the University of Illinois, where he also later completed a MBA degree. Following a clinical internship in medicine and surgery, Dr. Mike did his residency training in zoological medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo and University of Missouri.


Providing the Tools to Save Species

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Speaker: Dr. Robert Lacy, CZS Senior Conservation Scientist Emeritus

For decades, CZS has been at the forefront of providing software to guide the conservation breeding programs of all the major regional zoo associations and software for risk assessments and evaluation of conservation options for endangered species.  CZS is now leading a partnership of zoos, aquariums, and other conservation organizations to continue and expand this essential service that enables conservation organizations and governments around the world to plan and implement effective, scientifically guided programs for wildlife population management and species recovery. Dr. Bob Lacy will describe how the mission-critical software tools are being used to help save species – not just the populations under the care of zoos, but also in fragile wild populations such as Mountain Gorillas facing disease threats, Killer Whales competing with people for their marine habitats, and arctic species facing a literal meltdown of their habitats.

Dr. Robert Lacy was a Conservation Scientist for the Chicago Zoological Society from 1985 until his recent retirement. He was trained in evolutionary biology, ecology, and genetics (PhD, Cornell University), and he has published more than 200 papers in genetics, ecology, taxonomy, behavior, physiology, epidemiology, conservation, and wildlife management. From 2003-2011, he served as Chair of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of the IUCN. He developed pedigree analysis methods and software used around the world to guide the genetic management of breeding programs in zoos. The population modeling software that he developed is used by conservationists, wildlife managers, researchers, and students to help guide species conservation planning. Although “retired”, he still works actively with the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative – a partnership of 20 organizations to develop, distribute, and support software tools for guiding wildlife conservation.

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Have questions? Contact the Education Department at adultlearning@czs.org

Cancellation and Refund Policy


Brookfield Zoo has developed many tools to assist educators in sharing information about animals, science, and caring - the things that form the basis of conservation at the zoo and in the wild. We encourage educators to use the information gathered by the zoo to share concepts about data gathering and scientific research, and to use the zoo's charismatic animals to help inspire excitement for learning. Be informed, entertained, and engaged by special classes just for teachers. Plus you can earn PDCHs and optional graduate credit through Dominican University.



The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a conservation-focused, inquiry-driven learning experience that combines web-based graduate courses through Miami University with exciting face-to-face experiential and field study at Brookfield Zoo. Students in this national degree program contribute to social and ecological change in their communities. The opportunity to earn credits from international travel is another exciting part of the program. And the best news of all – it’s affordable!