Remodeled North Entrance at the Brookfield Zoo 2016 (Dcallan423Creative Commons Licence)


Location:  Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Address:  3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513, USA

Telephone:  +1 708-688-8000

Website contact form:


Exhibit:  The Great Bear Wilderness


Hudson (male): Born 14 December 2006 at Brookfield Zoo.

Hope (female) born 3 December 2015 in Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Ohio, USA.  Arrived from Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 29 January 2021.


The 7.5 acre (3 hectare) Great Bear Wilderness opened on 8 May 2010 and houses polar bears, grizzly bears, Mexican gray wolves, American bison and bald eagles.  The $27.3 million habitat was funded by private donations.

The polar bear exhibit seeks to recreate the Arctic tundra and includes a swimming pool for the bears with underwater viewing facilities for the public.  Various substrates are provided including grass, dirt, rock and concrete.

There are three bear exhibit spaces featuring the polar bears  and the grizzly bears. At the time of the opening the zoo indicated that the animals would be rotated into each of the exhibits on various days, to help alleviate boredom.

In the 3,600 square foot (2,500 square metres) underwater bear viewing area the public are separated from the bears by five inch (12.5 cm) thick glass.  Each of the exhibits three pools holds around 80,000 US gallons of water (303,00 litres) which is circulated through sand filters and a fine screen before returning to the pools. 

The exhibit includes a new restaurant, gift shop, restrooms, and an education building. Off exhibit space added when the news facility opened included an additional outdoor non-public enclosure and increased holding space.  The dens have skylights to allow for natural light.  We do not at present have more details on the off-exhibit areas. 


  1.  Captive breeding programme with, at least in the past, bears receiving fertility treatment in a bid to achieve conception.
  2.  Whilst the current facilites are a huge improvement on what went before they still noly provide a relatively small total area for the bears to explore and live in.  The Zoo has sufficient space to have made something far larger.

 Bear Conservation has no information at present on the feeding, exercise, medical and enrichment regimes at Brookfield Zoo.

The video below was published on 2 March 2017 and shows Nan and Hudson shortly after Nan’s arrival at Brookfield Zoo in early February.

Return to Captive Polar Bear Directory

Page updated 04 March 2021