Wild Encounters - Brookfield Zoo

Wild Encounters is a great area at Brookfield Zoo, though there's an additional cost—even for most members. You can feed goats, feed parakeets in a free-flight area, and walk among wallabies. There are also a few other animals, including reindeer, in more traditional zoo habitats (though even these are modern exhibits, without lots of physical barriers to block your view).

The typical cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors (kids 2 and under are free). Members get half off the cost, and unlimited members are free. Feeding any of the animals is an additional cost ($2 for a stick with bird food, and $0.50 for a handful of goat food, which needs to be purchased using quarters).

The bathroom in Wild Encounters is quite nice, though it’s not huge. There’s also a nice bathroom in the Animal Ambassador building just outside Wild Encounters. It is also small, but typically less crowded—however, you can’t easily return to Wild Encounters, so you’ll only want to use it on the way in or out. See the restrooms page for more information.

(I used to describe Wild Encounters as the best spot at the Brookfield Zoo, but I'm not quite as high on it anymore: there are no longer emus in the open walking area and the parakeets have become hard to feed, both of which were favorites of mine.)



You can go into the goats enclosure to pet or brush the goats, which is fun for kids. The goats can occasionally get rowdy, but they're mostly well behaved and my kids enjoy it, especially once they're at least a little taller than the goats. You can feed the goats, for 50 cents (quarters only), from just outside the enclosure.


The parakeets are in the long building immediately to the right when you come into Wild Encounters. Except for small entrance and exit areas, the whole thing is a free-flight area for dozens of parakeets. There’s a short wall separating the side with trees and water from where visitors may walk, so the birds will be on the other side more, but they’ll certainly fly near the people as well.

I definitely enjoy the parakeets, but it's not as amazing as it once was: they used to readily come check people out and eat from the feed sticks, but it's much harder to get interested parakeets anymore. I still typically buy a food stick ($2 each), but getting a bird to eat from one takes persistence, and often an adult with long arms reaching the food over to where some birds are already sitting. These are hard to share, so I definitely recommend one per person if you choose to feed them.

A heads up—the birds fly in large packs, often taking off suddenly and just narrowly avoiding people as they fly to the other end of the room. I find this really enjoyable (though I still duck reflexively when they fly close) and from my people-watching kids either enjoy it or aren’t bothered by it much, but it definitely freaks out a lot of adults. If this bothers you, you can hang back by the outside wall, which has an overhang and gets very few birds flying through. If you want to brave going closer, staying lower (sitting or kneeling by kids) normally gives you a little more distance. You can also look away from them so that you'll only see the parakeets once they're past you.


The wallabies are in large, fenced-in area that you can go into as well (a wallaby is like a small kangaroo). People need to stay on the clearly marked paths, but the wallabies will sometimes come through those areas. Most wallabies are not very active or curious, but there are a few who will sometimes come and check out the people walking through.

Other Animals

There are a series of other animals in the same general area of Wild Encounters: red pandas, reindeer (also called caribou), llamas, and alpacas. These areas are more typical modern zoo habitats: you can’t go in, but the separation is just glass or a thin fence, and animals may come pretty close up.