Courtesy Sondra Katzen, Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo

The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, encourages guests to visit the zoo on Wednesday, February 27, to reflect on the threatened status of polar bears and learn how to help protect their environment. The event, which takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., is in honor of International Polar Bear Day and will highlight the effects that climate change has on these magnificent creatures.

As guests enter the Great Bear Wilderness underwater viewing area and Hamill Family Play Zoo, they can write a pledge to reduce their carbon footprint on life-size polar bear statues. The first 300 people to make their pledge will receive a compact fluorescent light bulb, donated by the Consumer Utility Board.

Children will also be able to participate in polar bear-themed activities at Hamill Family Play Zoo, including tracing and decorating their carbon footprint. Additionally, youngsters will be able to engage in hands-on and minds-on learning in an activity that features helping miniature polar bear figures navigate ice floes in a sensory bin filled with water.

Zookeepers will be on hand to host a special Zoo Chat at 11:30 a.m. and share interesting facts about Brookfield Zoo’s polar bears, including Aussie, a 27-year-old male. Also, zoo guests who purchase an item from any of the zoo’s gift shops will receive a free reusable bag. Additional reusable bags will be available for purchase.

CZS will also take part in the Thermostat Challenge, an effort to raise awareness about how daily actions impact polar bears and their sea ice habitat. CZS will participate by lowering the temperature of the zoo’s indoor non-animal buildings by two degrees in order to reduce carbon emissions. The Thermostat Challenge is sponsored by Polar Bears International (PBI), the world’s leading polar bear conservation group.

Zoo guests are also encouraged to join the Thermostat Challenge. Additional activities that could help slow the pace of climate change and its impact include swapping out incandescent (regular) light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, buying food grown locally to reduce the need for transporting food thousands of miles, and driving a fuel-efficient car to help reduce air pollution.

Admission to Brookfield Zoo is $15 for adults and $10.50 for children three to 11 years old and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10. Hamill Family Play Zoo is free on February 27.

The Chicago Zoological Society inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for Brookfield Zoo’s innovative, naturalistic, multispecies exhibits and for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. For further information, visit