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Chicago Area Zoos and Animal Parks - there's more than two!

Updated on February 18, 2020
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I write about many subjects typically surrounding my kids, including fundraising, gifts for children, vacations, and Boy Scouts.

Where to take the kids to see animals in Chicagoland?

There are many places around Chicagoland to see animals and other wildlife. The big three are Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and the John G Shedd Acquarium. In addition to the big three, there are places to see Bison, farm animals, along with a few smaller zoos.

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Where do you go in Chicago to see animals?

Where do you go in Chicago to see animals?

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Zoos and other wildlife parks in Chicagoland

Here's a non-inclusive list of places to go near Chicago, Illinois to see animals on the land and in water.

  • Lincoln Park Zoo is also called Chicago's Zoo. It is also dubbed as a free zoo, although they do charge you to park at the zoo which can run up to $35 for a full day. Parking in Lincoln Park and walking to the zoo may be more economical. Once inside, this 35 acre zoo has a wide variety of animals to see including bears, birds, primates, sea lions, reptiles, african apes, a children's zoo, and a farm area.
  • Brookfield Zoo is located in Brookfield, Illinois which is just to the west of Chicago. Brookfield Zoo is a great day trip for the entire family and features animals from aardvarks to zebras. Exhibits include the Living Coast (penguins), The Swamp, Tropic World (apes), wolves, great bear wilderness, seven seas which includes a dolphin show, big cats, habitat Africa, Australia House, pachyderm house, the fragile desert, and the fragile rain forest. The zoo also offers many seasonal exhibits like Extreme Bugs, a butterfly house in the summer, Creatures of the Night in October, and the Festival of Lights in December.
  • John G Shedd Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the United States. It is located in the museum campus on Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. The Wild Reef exhibit is amazing with all the sharks and great tropical fish. The dolphin show is very educational and the beluga whales are always fun to watch, not to mention the penguins. There are hundreds of smaller aquariums with all kinds of fish, frogs, and things you just don't see at a local pet store.
  • Historic Wagner Farm is located in Glenview, Illinois and provides a real world farm experience with cows, chickens, pigs, horses, and a historic barn and farmhouse.
  • Cosley Zoo - If you think Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo are the only zoos around Chicago, then you probably have never heard of Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Illinois. Cosley Zoo has about 20 exhibits and 200 animals on its 2+ acre site. As you can imagine, this zoo has a lot of smaller animals like rabbits, the red fox, cow, llama, a large collection of birds, and a small collection of snakes.
  • Phillips Park Zoo - Another zoo in the chicagoland area that is less frequent is Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, Illlinois. Zoo exhibits include: Bald Eagles, Gray Wolves, Cougars, North American River Otters, Llamas, Goats, a herd of Elk, as well as a wide variety of Reptiles, Swans, Ducks, Turkeys, Peacocks and more.
  • The Willowbrook Wildlife Center located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois is operated by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. The center provides rehabilitation services for native and migratory wildlife which includes resident rabbits and rats. The center is open to the public with a visitor center, butterfly garden, and an outdoor trail. Visit the website to find a schedule of activities and opportunities to walk with a Naturalist.
  • The Fermilab Bison (the North American Bison) have been on the property since 1969 and are available to visit 7 days a week.

Zoos and Wildlife Areas around Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo:
2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

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Brookfield Zoo:
3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513

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John G Shedd Acquarium:
1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

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Wagner Farm:
1510 Wagner Road, Glenview, IL 60025

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Cosley Zoo:
1356 North Gary Ave, Wheaton, Illinois 60187

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Phillips Park Zoo:
1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora, IL 60505

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Willowbrook Wildlife Center:
525 S. Park Boulevard, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

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Fermilab Buffalo:
Kirk Road and Pine Road, Batavia, Illinois 60510

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