When I first heard about the Xtreme BUGS exhibit opening at the Brookfield Zoo, I wasn’t sure if I should expect real bugs or gigantic, fake bugs. Turns out that the answer is both and the term "Xtreme" perfectly describes both components.
Xtreme BUGS features two distinct elements: the first is the 20 larger-than-life animatronic bugs lining the path to and from the interior portion of the exhibit. Highlights include a monarch butterfly (that flaps its wings), a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach and a ladybug overtaking a Volkswagon Beetle decked out in ladybug decor. These animatronic bugs move and make sounds. My three year-old thought this was cool. My two year-old niece seemed really freaked out by it. Be aware that little ones might not dig this aspect of the experience (and really who can blame them for being afraid of gigantic bugs making startling sounds).
This portion of the exhibit is truly unlike anything you've ever seen before. Visitors can learn interesting facts from large, clear signage along the path. Although the structure wasn't assembled when we attended the press preview on Wednesday, the outdoor component of the exhibit is supposed to feature a 10-foot by 20-foot spider web climber (which sounds like something that older kids would love).
Inside the tent, visitors can get up close and personal with real bugs. This interactive exhibit features several different touch points where guests can see bugs in their own habitat (which includes a set up showing real roaches crawling under a kitchen sink -- yuck). Other highlights include a cockroach race and a bug petting zoo (only for the very brave).
This exhibit has lots of potential -- although I thought that the signage needed to be larger and clearer in several spots. On-site staff were helpful in pointing out where to head next, but the interior exhibit seemed a little bit disconnected overall. I worry that visitors will walk through without really seeing everything there is to see.
This exhibit opens on May 19 and runs through September 7 -- so you have all summer to check it out. Xtreme BUGS costs $5 for adults and $3 for children 3-11 and seniors over age 65. This is in addition to regular zoo admission fees. Brookfield Zoo members pay half-price. I have to be totally honest . . . I think that these prices are high -- unless you are a member at the zoo (which you should be because the numbers totally work out in your favor).
So bottom line: Get a membership to the Brookfield Zoo this summer and go see the Xtreme BUGS exhibit -- and then take advantage of the many other wonderful things to see at the zoo (Like the seals! The lions! And the stingrays!)