BROOKFIELD — Everyone is invited to join Potoka, one of Brookfield Zoo’s giraffes, on his first birthday and celebrate the first-ever World Giraffe Day at Brookfield Zoo on the longest day of the year, June 21. Guests will party with Potoka and learn about the threatened status of giraffes and how to help protect them and their environment. The event, which takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., will highlight how poaching and habitat loss are creating a decline in the world’s giraffe population.
The day kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with a special giraffe Zoo Chat which will focus on how the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, cares for its giraffes. From there, guests can head to Hamill Family Play Zoo, where kids will be making banners and birthday signs for Potoka.
At noon, everyone is invited to join in a parade that winds from Hamill Family Play Zoo to Habitat Africa!, the Savannah for Potoka’s birthday celebration. While kids display their birthday greetings, Potoka will receive a special birthday cake made from his usual diet of fruits and vegetables, including carrots serving as the candles. Another giraffe Zoo Chat will take place at 12:30 p.m. while Potoka enjoys his treat. The 3 p.m. Zoo Chat will be in English and will be followed immediately by a Spanish version. The final Zoo Chat will take place at 5:30 p.m.
Throughout the day, giraffe interpretive items — including examples of their favorite foods, giraffe hides and examples of how feeders provide stimulating enrichment — will be on display by the giraffe waterhole. Interpretive staff will be on hand to explain to guests the various objects and answer questions.
Fewer than 80,000 giraffes remain in Africa, which is a 40 percent reduction since the late 1990s. The first-ever World Giraffe Day will raise awareness for giraffes and will be celebrated across the globe. Guests at Brookfield Zoo will learn how they can help conserve and protect giraffes that live in the wild, as well as how to adopt Potoka through Brookfield Zoo’s Share the Care program.
The event is sponsored by ComEd. In addition to supporting World Giraffe Day, the electric company provides Brookfield Zoo giraffes (and many other animals) with browse (leaves, twigs and branches from trimmed trees and shrubs). Each week, ComEd donates 40 to 50 cubic yards of browse that feeds the animals. One of the giraffes’ favorite trees is the sugar maple.
World Giraffe Day is free with general zoo admission, which is $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children ages 3-11 and seniors age 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Admission to Hamill Family Play Zoo is $2.50 for nonmembers and $1.25 for zoo members. Parking is $10. For more information, visit www.CZS.org/Events or call 708-688-8000.
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 Preserves 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 more information, visit www.CZS.org.