(File 2018)

The area may still be in the depths of a deep freeze, but Brookfield Zoo is coming out of its hibernation after a two-month shutdown to start 2021.

According to the Chicago Zoological Society’s website, Brookfield Zoo will begin to welcome visitors into its gates on Monday, March 1. Hours of operation had not been updated prior to the Landmark’s press time.

As was the case since the zoo reopened to the public last July, the park will be operating under COVID-19 restrictions. To ensure limited capacity allowing for social distancing, all visitors must reserve a time to visit the zoo. Those reservations must be made online in 20-minute intervals and both tickets and parking must be purchased in advance at czs.org/onlineticketing.

No tickets will be sold onsite and, like last summer, the zoo is operating in a cashless environment. You’ll need a credit or debit card to purchase food, drinks and gifts inside the zoo.

Restaurants and retail shops will also be closed, but food, beverages and souvenirs can be purchased from carts in various spots on the park grounds. Visitors are asked to wear face coverings when entering the zoo and whenever it’s not possible to maintain six feet of space between your party and other visitors, including lines at food and gift carts.

All of Brookfield Zoo’s indoor exhibit areas will continue to be closed to the public and other attractions, like the dolphin shows, carousel, the Hamill Family Play Zoo, the butterfly exhibit, playgrounds and the Motor Safari also will not be in operation.

For the second consecutive year, however, Brookfield Zoo will present a special outdoor exhibit – Dinos Everywhere! – only this year, visitors can enjoy it a bit longer. The exhibit will be on display when the gates reopen on March 1. 

The exhibit, created by “Jurassic Park” advisor Don Lessum, features 40 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs located throughout the park, including the enormous 100-foot-long Argentinosaurus. The exhibit will remain on display through Sept. 6.

More information is available at czs.org.