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Xtreme BUGS at Brookfield Zoo
Experience the invasion of Xtreme BUGS, presented by Dominick’s, at Brookfield Zoo all summer long through September 7. The temporary exhibit of epic proportions will feature everything from Xtra-large animatronic bugs, including a 16-foot-high by 33-foot-long Japanese hornet displayed in the zoo’s Roosevelt Fountain, to Xtra-small live insects as part of Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World! presented by Terminix. The state-of-the art animatronics were created exclusively for Brookfield Zoo, which is where they will be seen for the first time ever!

“Bugs are a major influence in our history because of their extreme effect on the environment, economics, food, medicine, and pop culture,” said Andre Copeland, interpretive programs manager for the Chicago Zoological Society. “This entertaining and educational experience will offer our guests an opportunity to imagine living with gigantic bugs while exploring some of the connections between humans and the small animals that carry the weight of the world on their shells.”

Xtreme BUGS will take zoogoers along a winding trail where they will be able to view more than 20 oversized animatronic bugs, from a fluttering monarch butterfly and ladybug to a praying mantis and a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach. Additionally, there will be nearly 130 larger -than-life stationary insects and flora, some grouped in themed action scenes, including bees pollinating, spiders hunting, ants feasting upon a scorpion, and cicadas hatching.

Along the trail, there will be interactive signs and graphics illustrating amazing facts about some of the smallest creatures. Also, junior entomologists can unearth a variety of replica bugs in JULIE, Inc.’s interactive dig box. Kids will also have fun exploring, crawling, climbing, and sliding down the 10-foot by 20-foot spider web climber. And, throughout the summer, guests can discover bugs’ importance during Cultural Connections, featuring Zoo Chats, craft activities, and special entertainment. Cultural Connections is sponsored by the Sara Lee Foundation.

In Harry's Big Adventure: My Bug World!, guests will have an opportunity to see live creepy-crawlies. The exhibit, located in a 5,000-square-foot tent along the Xtreme BUGS pathway, will immerse guests in the world of bugs, taking them on a journey through the habitats of some of the smallest—yet most important—critters. The interactive habitats feature several ecosystems, such as a cropland, forest, meadow, and swamp, as well as a home scene, to show how insects impact their surroundings, the environment, and human lives. Guests will be able to view live bugs such as water beetles, cockroaches, millipedes, crawfish, ants, emperor scorpions, and a praying mantis.

Young insect fans can pretend to be bug detectives and conduct their own pest inspection, take audio and visual trips into the world of bugs, and even take a photo with a 3D praying mantis named Harry through augmented reality technology.

Special programming will give guests more of a chance to see, touch, and even taste some fascinating bugs. There will be roach races featuring Madagascar giant hissing cockroaches; a bug petting zoo that offers guests up-close opportunities to touch such critters like a giant millipede, Chilean rose-haired tarantula, and vinegaroon; and a chef cooking up some tummy-tickling treats that feature bugs as the main ingredients. (Roach races and bug cooking demonstrations will take place on weekends only.)

As guests exit Xtreme BUGS, they will encounter a gigantic ant farm exhibit, presented by Wells Fargo. The approximately 5,000 harvester ants that live in the 8-foot-wide by 4-foot-high ant farm can be seen digging tunnels.

There is also an Xtreme BUGS call center. Those who have a bug-related myth, rumor, or questionable fact, can call (708) 688-8722, leave their question, and the bug gurus at Brookfield Zoo will expose the Xtreme truth of the matter. Guests can call back periodically to get a variety of debugged messages.

Xtreme BUGS is $5 for adults and $3 for children 3-11 and seniors over 65 (half price for Brookfield Zoo members) in addition to regular zoo admission of $15 for adults and $10.50 for children 3-11 and seniors over 65. Children 2 and under are free. A 20 percent discounted combo ticket of general zoo admission and Xtreme BUGS admission may be purchased at participating Dominick’s stores for $16 for adults and $10.80 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over.