Monday, July 28, 2008

Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo

Recently a business trip took me to Chicago, so I checked out the Lincoln Park Zoo. This zoo is free - which is pretty amazing - since it appears to be nice, clean, well run, and have a decent selection of animals. They must have a lot of private funding, and that's nice, as making zoos available to all is a nice goal (though one I would have thought unrealistic).

Although it was hot and humid, it was still a pleasant day at the zoo. Most of the habitats were nice and the animals seemed happy (though of course, there are always a few....like one lone zebra, why? Herd animals should be together even if the zebra has to be with some African antelope).

I enjoyed the African wild dogs - though their enclosure was smaller than ideal, they have shade and a nice place there. I have been to Africa several times now and never seen the elusive wild dog - though I sincerely hope one day I will. In "Out of Africa" Isak Denison describes a sight she saw of thousands of African dogs - and while I have never heard any explanation of why there would have been so many or why they would travel together as she described, the scene was one I've never forgotten. African dogs have a really interesting society and are neat creatures, so getting to see a couple up close was great. Two are pictured here. I still hold out hope that in my lifetime I can see some in Africa where they belong, but for now, nice to see them in Chicago.

I also enjoyed the Andean bear, pictured here swimming in a pool to cool off in the afternoon heat. There were alos lions, leopards, lowland gorillas, chimps, and a variety of smaller mammals. I saw, for the first time, a sand cat (several). This looks for all the world like a thin domenstic housecat with a rounder, puffier face. (Add a litterbox and some Friskies to the exhibit and I would have bet it WAS a housecat). These are very interesting and it's always nice to "meet" a new animal I've never even heard of before.

Overall I give this zoo 4 out of 5 stars - a very pleasant day and easy to walk/cover in a half day trip. They have a Safari ride that was fun and made me laugh, and we rented a paddleboat and cruised around for a bit overlooking some cows in the Farmyard part of the zoo.

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