Brookfield Zoo announces 2-acre expansion of gorilla habitat

Brookfield Zoo
A rendering of the Brookfield Zoo's planned expansion for its orangutans and western lowland gorillas. Photo credit CZS-Brookfield Zoo

It just gets better and better for Brookfield Zoo’s newest western lowland gorilla, Jontu.

Earlier this year, the zoo announced that the 26-year-old Jontu arrived from St. Louis Zoo to lead a troop of females. On Monday, zoo officials said they are getting set to break ground on a two-acre expansion of his habitat, Tropic World.

“I am tremendously excited about this project. Seeing our gorillas and orangutans come outside, some for the very first time, will be an unforgettable moment as they experience natural grass under their feet and sunlight shining on their faces,” said Michael Adkesson, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society and director of Brookfield Zoo, in a statement.

CZS-Brookfield Zoo
Western lowland gorillas at the Brookfield Zoo. Photo credit CZS-Brookfield Zoo

“The new habitats will also allow guests to connect with these amazing charismatic animals in a whole new way,” Adkesson said. “Our mission is to engage our guests in caring about wildlife and nature. From that connection, we can then inspire people to incorporate conservation-minded activities into their daily lives.”

The new habitat — both indoor and outdoor — includes “running water” features, climbing structures, grasses and vines, zoo staff said. Hundreds of shrubs and about 75 trees will help bring the exhibit space to life.

Although a fence is now in place around the construction site, zoo officials say visitors will still be able to see the animals in Tropic World. The new habitat is expected to be complete in 2025, although zoo staff say the animals will be introduced gradually into the new space.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire & Chicago Sun-Times 2023. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Featured Image Photo Credit: CZS-Brookfield Zoo