Play Zoo - Brookfield Zoo

The Play Zoo at Brookfield is outstanding, with areas for infants to crawl around, places to dress up and do a variety of make-believe play, and fun animals to watch and touch. It also has good bathrooms and a private room for nursing.

There is often an animal out for kids to pet in the back open area of the Play Zoo. These animals will vary substantially: cats, bunnies, snakes, and guinea pigs are frequent choices; once even a hissing cockroach.

Speaking of hissing cockroaches, the Play Zoo has some fun animals. The lemurs are the top attraction, but there are a variety of animals, often with great names like the tiny screaming hairy armadillo and the fire-bellied toad. Each animal has a sign listing the name, where it lives, and what it eats.

There is an additional fee to enter the Play Zoo—$2 per child or adult. Family Plus or Unlimited members get free admission and other members get half off. The Play Zoo is frequently open for free during the winter, especially on days that the entire zoo is free.


Immediately inside the doors, on both the left and right, are coat closets for cold or wet days. After disposing of a coat, if needed, check the lemurs on the right, a variety of small animal exhibits on the left, or some play areas ahead.

The lemurs can move between inside and outside areas of the enclosure but are more often inside, in a floor-to-ceiling glass enclosure. By the lemurs are costumes to dress up as a lemur or a zookeeper, and areas and accessories to play as a zookeeper (my kids love the toy mop), as well as a “tot spot” area for crawlers.

The Play Zoo is split into several different rooms, make for a nice variety of activities. Each room has a single main entrance/exit, so it’s easy to let kids play a little more freely in most.

The Animal Hospital area has several patient tables, lots of stuffed animals to care for, and tools like stethoscopes. Encourage kids to explore and check out other drawers and cabinets with fun tools.

The Zoo Greenhouse has a variety of plants and trees, and small paths to wander between them. It’s stocked with spray bottles to water the plants, and kids are normally pretty good at not squirting each other. Early walkers will enjoy wandering around the greenhouse, but may get frustrated by not being able to work the spray bottles. By 2-years-old, most kids will be able to figure it out with some help.

Just outside the greenhouse is a larger tot spot, specifically for crawlers. Near this area, in the back of the Play Zoo, keep an eye out for animals to pet—there’s often a volunteer sitting nearby with an animal. Nearby is the area with a family bathroom and a nursing/quiet room—all the way back from the main entrance, on the left (or just ask since there’s almost always a volunteer in the area).

The next room is the Zoo Workshop which often has small art projects that kids can work on—from a birdfeeder to take home to a simple drawing of an animal, these projects rotate a lot so you can come back each visit and do something different.

There’s also a room in the middle of the Play Zoo. It’s sometimes closed off, but has fun small animals (like cockroaches) as well as more areas to play zookeeper. The easiest entrance is across from the bathrooms.

Don’t miss the areas that are immediately to the left after you enter the Play Zoo. There are some fun small animals to check out, as well as areas to play, and dress up, or create a new exhibit.

Lastly, there are great play areas around the Play Zoo—inside the gate, but around on every side and behind. There are gardens, a “bug walk”, a sensory garden, and tiny woods, among others, they’re almost always pretty empty but make for great spaces to run around and burn off energy.