Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness

Brookfield Zoo Goes Blue for Autism

2020 Zoo Goes Blue Day (April 4)

To enhance the zoo experience for families with an individual on the autism spectrum, the Chicago Zoological Society offers BZ Care Kits that can be checked out during a visit to Brookfield Zoo. These kits include noise-reducing headphones, hard copies of visual schedules, autism stickers, and safety alert badges and ID bracelets in case a child gets separated from his or her family. Also, check out the free adaptive tools that can be downloaded below prior to a zoo visit.

Groundbreaking Project

In the fall of 2013, CZS launched an innovative pilot project, which was the first of its kind to offer social integration and zoo animal interactions for early learners with autism spectrum disorder to gauge what, if any, role the zoo could play in supporting or even advancing the developmental milestones of early learners, specifically children between the ages of 3 and 6.

The groundbreaking project, which was in partnership with Easter Seals Joliet, was based on two pieces of evidential research, which found that the presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder and that inclusive learning/experiential environments support the development of adaptive behaviors and communication.

The project demonstrated considerable promise in significantly improving the lives of those affected by autism. Based on feedback from parents, Easter Seals therapists, and the Society’s education staff, the zoo hopes to transition the pilot project to a permanent program in the near future.

In recognition of CZS’s efforts, Cook County Commissioners adopted a resolution at their meeting on April 8, 2014, highlighting the Society’s work with individuals with disabilities, including the groundbreaking autism pilot program at Brookfield Zoo.

Autism Awareness Day

On Saturday, April 12, 2014, Brookfield hosted Autism Awareness Day to help children with autism connect with wildlife and nature and raise awareness of this spectrum disorder that affects 1 in 68 children. Governor Pat Quinn joined in honoring individuals with autism and their families, and issued a special proclamation declaring Autism Awareness Day in Illinois. The Governor was introduced by 14-year-old Justyn Skach who highlighted Brookfield Zoo’s work in supporting individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Justyn is an example to families that individuals with autism can also achieve and do great things. More than 1,000 children and adults with autism and their families attended the event held in partnership with Autism Speaks.

View Photos of Autism Awareness Day at Brookfield Zoo
Free Resources

Accesibility Information

Brookfield Zoo makes a concerted effort to make its grounds, pathways, buildings, exhibits and programs accessible to all visitors.



Everyone is a potential conservation leader!