Brooke Shields Gives Update on Her Recovery After Shattering Her Femur (Exclusive)

Shields broke her femur in January 2021 and, at one point, feared she may never walk again.

Brooke Shields is offering an update on the femur she shattered just over a year ago, though one glance at her bright smile tells the story.

The 56-year-old actress spoke to ET's Matt Cohen at the San Diego Zoo, where she soaked in the festivities after the park -- where she once interned -- opened its 3.2-acre wildlife basecamp exhibit. That she was able enjoy the park's expansive grounds, not to mention the rope bridge, is quite the accomplishment considering it was a little over a year ago when Shields shattered her femur in a freak accident that had her wondering if she'd ever be able to walk again.

Shields attributes moving so well to her determination and hard work at rehab.

"It's just, you have to fight," she says. "Fight for it all." But even with the injury seemingly well past behind her, there's no forgetting the overwhelming pain following the January 2021 accident.

"Oh, I don't think I've ever experienced anything [like that]," she recalled. "It's amazing the level [of pain]. I mean, you almost pass out from the pain. I'm able to walk now in this kind of environment, so ... ."

Shields's return to the San Diego Zoo is nostalgic for the actress. She interned at the zoo in her teens as a senior in high school and remembers waking up at dawn to help take care of the animals by preparing their meals and cleaning where they lived.

"It was probably the most extraordinary experience of my life," said Shields, who was on hand to give ET a tour of the 10 buildings that make up four different habitat zones -- rainforest, wild woods, marsh meadows and desert dunes.

"I think my relationships with animals have been clearer and more honest and less judgmental," Shields says. "Much healthier than my relationships with humans have ever been. I learned that at a very, very early age."

The park holds a dear place in Shields' heart because of the months she spent there as an intern, and it was during that time in her life when a young Shields met world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. And their meeting turned out to be quite comical.

"Once I was working on the primate area and Jane Goodall came to check it out and I was just a food prep [worker] that day," Shields recalled. "She checked the area out and then she left and one of the other zookeepers said, 'Why don't you go say hi? You clearly want to meet her.' And I was like, 'I don't want to go say hi' and she said 'go say hi.' So I went to go run up after her and it was right up in the area slant and I started running up the hill and I tripped and fell."

"I slid all the way down the hill," she continued. "[I] was so embarrassed, jumped up and went right back to chopping vegetables and I was like 'Maybe she didn't see it.' She walks back in and goes 'Excuse me, did you want to say something to me?' And 'Yeah. I'm a fan. Just, me too' and she was like 'You're doing good work here' and I was like 'Oh God.' It was some amazing experience."