When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth…The Brookfield Zoo 2020
Growing up in Wisconsin, every field trip that I can remember involved the Milwaukee Zoo or Museum. Here I would find my love of animals, and particularly, Penguins and Dinosaurs…I know, weird right? See the Penguins were the very first animal to greet you at the Zoo, so it became almost a tradition and need to see them right away to the start of my exciting day. The Dinosaurs were the cream of the crop at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and it was always my favorite part to visit and just sit and stare at. What does that have to do with Brookfield Zoo? Well they had Penguins AND Dinos and it was something to do to get out of the house and into some fresh air while social distancing and masking.The Zoo is located in Brookfield, IL, and easily accessible. It reopened to Members on July 1st and to the Public on July 8th, 2020. My friend is a Member, so they were able to get me in as a “plus one free” deal, so I was pumped to get a free day! I didn’t do much homework on the place, I fugured a Zoo is a Zoo…and then I saw the large Dino that greets you at the front gate and I FREAKED out! I didn’t know that they had a special Dinosaur Exhibit there, and ONLY there this summer. It honestly saved the day because like everything else right now in the World, the Pandemic has made sure to shut down many things that normally would be open without a thought.
It was my first time there, so I didn’t have really anything to compare it too. My first impression was that the grounds were kept up well and that it definitely was a large zoo. It will take you several hours just to walk the entirety of it. BUT, for now, NONE of the buildings (INCLUDING my beloved Penguin building) were open except for restrooms. So on our 90 plus degree day, there were no a/c breaks to be taken. They allow outside food and drink to be brought in, and ESPECIALLY during these times, you want to bring your own in for the sheer reason that you know you only touched it but for the bigger reason being that we could only find a stand here and there that was actually open. We had some delicious “Dippin’ Dots” and grabbed an Icee on the way out…it was like air conditioning for our mouths, it tasted sooooo good on a hot day. Members get discounts on everything, so it’s worth it to be one if you live in the area and will be going back multiple times.
Now the animals were hard to find…meaning I repeatedly said while walking around “Now there are dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour?” I’m sure the heat was a factor, but also possibly the animals got whiff of the pandemic and are social distancing themselves. Because when I tell you we were disappointed trying to find them, one after another, its true. Does it matter? Well, I always think of those bringing the wee ones in who are all jazzed up to see them and when there’s none to be found, it’s just a disappointing day. I did love the Lions, they had two Males which were easy to see, and a beautiful snow leopard that was snoozing away.
What made the whole day worth the heat were the Dinos (ironically). Not only true to scale, but they were animatronics, so they moved and made noises. It was neat to see them spread across the entire Zoo, along with a special exhibit corner. If you know someone who LOVES Dinos like I do, this is a really great place to take them. They provide nice and clear signage of each Dinosaur, so it really is a great educational day for the kids on learning about these gentle (some) giants were on this Earth.
Let’s talk safety, because I know some are wondering how it is at Zoos now. First, masks are required here, so if you aren’t comfortable with that, come back another time. Second, it takes a reservation to get in, so they are counting and making sure to only allow so many in at certain times of the day. We were there at 10 a.m. and had no problem of a getting a parking spot or getting in. They check your ticket at the gate while you are in your car and confirm the number of guests and that’s it- you park and walk in. At no time were there crowds around us except for around 1 pm which was near the exit- the gift shop has a pop-up shop here and the information booth, so I assume that’s why. Again, no buildings were open, nor any shows going on. This is truly a walk around and see what animals are out, see the Dinos, and if you brought a picnic, find a secluded spot and stay away from everyone. They have social distancing signs everywhere and the parents we came across were good with making sure the kids stayed right next to them and not walking or standing next to us. I felt safe and hand sanitized as much as I could. I did bring my own, but they have stations all over the Parks for hand sanitizer, on top of maps with them for you to find the next one.
To remember the day, I picked up a T-Rex “Moldorama”, because a day at the Zoo isn’t the same without one. I don’t know how this became a “Zoo” thing, but it’s what I remember being excited about the most when going. It was getting the hot plastic animal for my bedroom at home, collecting more with each trip. Funny what made us happy as kids…. all of 75 cents then, all of $3 now. They have several machines located all over the Park, each with different animals. Ask the Information kiosk if you are looking for a specific animal so they may point you in the right direction.
I enjoyed my day at the Zoo and it was nice to just get some fresh air and feel “ok” again. Even though many things have changed for us, we can still find the small blessings and joys in each day, and I think this is a great place to relax and still feel safe. For more information, head their website HERE. Enjoy!
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