Pachyderms (Rhinos and Hippos) - Brookfield Zoo

Pachyderm is an outdated term, but it’s still used at many zoos to refer to elephants, rhinos, and hippos, the three largest land animals (in that order). Unfortunately, neither Chicago zoo has elephants, but you can see large rhinos and pygmy hippos (though not the larger common hippo).

The main pachyderm to see are the rhinos. They’re usually outside, you can find them by heading west from the Roosevelt Fountain; they’ll be on your right. There are three enclosures that they could be in—the easternmost is fenced in, but the other two just have a surrounding pit to keep the rhinos in, so you get excellent views (and occasionally get a little nervous, like the first time I visited the zoo and turned a corner; I didn't see the pit between us, just a rhino running in my direction). More often, you’ll see a rhino just relaxing or sleeping, often in the back by their doors to go inside.

The building behind the rhinos is the Pachyderm House, which is currently closed.

On the north side of the Pachyderm House are pygmy hippos (basically, smaller versions of the common hippos) and tapirs. Both are normally pretty inactive and the hippos are typically buried in mud, so they’re not my favorites to visit, but they can still be fun to watch.

The closest bathrooms are back at the North Gate (main entrance).