There’s a fierce war going on between Chicago’s two major zoos. The Lincoln Park Zoo and the Brookfield Zoo absolutely despise each other and they’re battling for your business.* Which one should you visit in the Windy City? Let’s see how they stack up.
(*Disclaimer: Reference to a “war” may have been completely made up for the sake of creating fictional drama.)
The Lincoln Park Zoo is just off Lake Michigan in the happenin’ hood of Lincoln Park. Parking is a nightmare, but no sane person would drive there when you can take public transportation or bike over. The Brookfield Zoo is way out in the burbs, which is inconvenient unless you happen to live in that area, and at last check, they charged $9 (yikes!) for parking. (I would never advocate bending the law, but you could probably stealthily park for free at the nearby Brookfield Woods lot if you wanted.)
Edge: Lincoln Park Zoo
VARIETY OF ANIMALS
The Lincoln Park Zoo has pretty much all the animals you’d expect from a big zoo – lions, tigers, rhinos, bears, giraffes, penguins, gorillas. But usually just 1 or 2 of each. It’s like they’re re-creating Noah’s Ark or something.
The Brookfield Zoo is a lot bigger, with a massive primate room and a big outdoor field with bison. And a desert room with meerkats. Who doesn’t love meerkats? They have aardvarks, camels, alligators, bald eagles and lizards. Plus, they house a handful of endangered Mexican gray wolves, which you can see up close when they run past the observation window. The wolves put Brookfield over the top on this one.
Edge: Brookfield Zoo
TYPE OF CROWD
Brookfield is totally made for kids. Every sign is colorful and cartoonish. It’s a really fun atmosphere. There’s a petting zoo and merry-go-round for the youngsters. And, they have special dolphin shows. For an extra $4, you can watch the trained dolphins perform tricks and fly out of the air to the tune of Van Halen’s “Jump.” If you don’t have kids, though, stick with Lincoln Park, which has a slightly more mature crowd.
Edge: Depends on your scene – Brookfield Zoo for kids, Lincoln Park Zoo for adults
The Lincoln Park Zoo is free, so you can’t beat that. The Brookfield Zoo runs more than $13 per adult and $9 per child. That’s more than $50 if you take the entire family. Ouch! Then again, if they don’t get enough financial support, they might not have enough dough to continue to take care of those wolves, and they would have to get rid of them, and you wouldn’t want that on your conscience, would you?
Edge: Lincoln Park Zoo
The Brookfield Zoo isn’t bad, but it’s hard to beat the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s cool to be smack in the middle of an urban paradise and see animals from all over the world. If you’re into animals at all, you should plan to swing by while you’re in Chicago.
Here’s a brief glimpse of the Brookfield Zoo in moving pictures.