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Lincoln Park vs. Brookfield: Which Has the Better Zoo?

How do the area’s two animal parks stack up against each other for a family outing?

A penguin at Brookfield Zoo and a gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo
Photos: (Brookfield Zoo) Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune; (Lincoln Park Zoo) Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune
  BROOKFIELD ZOO LINCOLN PARK ZOO
Size 216 acres 49 acres
Price At $22 for adults, $16 for kids, and $14 for parking, the whole trip can easily top $100. Free — but they nail you with parking (as much as $35).
Star Creatures Seven bottlenose dolphins A troop of chimpanzees
Skyline View Does the Brookfield water tower count? A skyscraper tableau, best seen from the boardwalk
Snacks Churros, hot dogs, soft pretzels — the usual zoo fare All that stuff, plus kale salads, calamari, and Cuban panini at Café Brauer
Odds you’ll have to explain the circle of life High. PETA sued the zoo last year over the accidental deaths of 54 stingrays in 2015. Low. There was a bad run in the mid-2000s, including three elephant deaths, but things have calmed down.
Can you touch the penguins? Yes ($40 per person, Penguin Encounters) No ($60 per person, Malott Family Penguin Encounter)
WINNER
Brookfield. It may not be as highbrow, but your kids will dig its massive menagerie (c’mon, dolphins!) — and you’ll get your steps in.
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