“How is Brookfield Zoo Marking International Red Panda Day?” by S.M. O’Connor

Today, Saturday, September 21, 2019 is International Red Panda Day.  Over the past twenty years, the global population of red pandas has declined by 50%.  There seem to be fewer than 10,000 of them in the wild.  Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois is marking International Red Panda Day with animal ambassador Leo at the three-acre Hamill Family Wild Encounters at 1:00 p.m.

A red panda is typically thirty-two-to-forty-six-inches long and weights twelve-to-twenty pounds.  They are found in the eastern Himalayas (including India, Nepal, and Myanmar) and southwestern China.  There are two recognized subspecies: the A.f. fulgens (western red panda) and A.f. refulgens (Styan’s panda).  Brookfield Zoo has fulgens.

Credit: Brookfield Zoo Caption: Ian Edwards, Assistant Lead Craftsman at the Brookfield Zoo, explains how his workshop produced the artificial red panda tree for Hamill Family Wild Encounters.

About the Chicago Zoological Society and the Brookfield Zoo

General zoo admission is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children (ages three-to-eleven) and senior citizens (ages sixty-five-and-over).  Toddlers and infants two-and-under are free.  Parking is $14.

The Chicago Zoological Society is a private, non-profit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.  Founded in 1920 and chartered in 1921, the Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) brought to life the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) to give Chicago a zoo without bars modeled on the Tierpark Hagenbeck, known in English as the Hagenbeck Animal Park, a privately-owned zoo in Hamburg founded in 1907 by Carl Hagenback, Jr. (1844-1913).  In December of 1919, Edith Rockefeller McCormick – the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and wife of Cyrus McCormick’s youngest son Harold Fowler McCormick (1872-1941) – donated eighty-three acres of land to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to be the site of a modern zoo, to which the Forest Preserve District added ninety-eight acres.[1]     Charles L. Hutchinson (1854-1924), the President of The Art Institute of Chicago, recruited Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist and correspondent John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) to become the first president of the C.Z.S.  McCutcheon attributed this decision to the book In Africa he had written after he participated in the 1909 Carl Akeley (1864-1926) expedition for The Field Museum of Natural History.[2]

The Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934, during the second year of Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34).  The zoo opened to the public on July 1, 1934. [3]   The expectation had been that about 33,000 people would attend, but about 58,000 people turned out.[4]  Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the Brookfield Zoo met the American Humane Association’s rigorous standards for the care and welfare of animals to become the world’s first zoo to receive Humane Certified™ certification.

Open every day of the year, the Brookfield Zoo is located between the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) and is also accessible via the TriState Tollway (I-294).  The North Gate Main Entrance address is 8400 West 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The South Gate Main Entrance address is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  A train station, the Hollywood (Zoo Stop) on Metra’s B.N.S.F. line, is a few blocks to the south of the South Gate entrance.  The phone number is (708) 688-8000.  The Website is www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Home.


[1] Andrea Friederici Ross, Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo. Chicago: Chicago Zoological Society (1997), p. 2

[2] John T. McCutcheon, Drawn from Memory: The Autobiography of John T. McCutcheon.  Indianapolis and New York City: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1950), p. 422

[3] Ross, p. 34

[4] Ross, p. 40

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