BROOKFIELD, Ill. Hundreds were lacing up their running shoes Sunday morning at the Brookfield Zoo, as the Brookfield Zoo Run was back in action after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Kevin Donovan, it was a run to be happy with amid the event’s return.

“It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I got to do it. ,” Donovan said.

Donovan was among hundreds participating in the 5K race that weaves its way in and out through exhibits, with runners sometimes having to dodge animals.

“They do have peacocks and geese roaming around, had to dodge them once or twice,” Donovan said.

Leah Rippe is the Vice President of marketing and communications at the zoo, and said all the money raised at the event supports the zoo’s conservation fund.

“We use it for research, extensive care, everything we can do for the welfare of the animals,” Rippe said.

The funds help animals such as Peppe the Penguin, who was pretty eager for his 15 minutes of fame in front of WGN’s camera. A new exhibit allows guests to feed the penguins at the zoo.

“Guests can come feed the penguins with us out on the exhibit. You do have to be 12 and over to do it and it’s for two guests at a time,” Rippe said.

Emily Venckus has been working with the penguins at the zoo for several years.

“They are fun, they’re a handful. They certainly have lots of personality, it is fun working with them,” Venckus said.

She added that the penguins love people and are always elated to meet new friends.

In the months ahead, the Brookfield Zoo will be hosting several events to match up with the upcoming seasons, with Oktoberfest and ‘Boo at the Zoo’ next month before holiday events take over to end the year.

“When we bring the holiday lights back, that’ll be a timed experience. You’ll have to go online and secure those tickets before you come,” Rippe said.

More information on the zoo and upcoming events can be found here.