Nestled within the lush environs of 1,200-acre Lincoln Park (which is also the most expansive park in Chicago) is the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was opened to the public in 1868 making it the oldest free-entrance zoo in the United States. By virtue of it being free, it quickly became one of Chicago?s most famous attractions up until now.
The establishment of Lincoln Park Zoo began when the commissioners of Lincoln Park were given a pair of swans which came from New York City?s Central Park. From there, the animal life in Lincoln Park Zoo expanded starting with the addition of a bear cub. A lion house was added in 1912 followed by a primate house in 1927 which served as the home of a famous gorilla named Bushman for 20 years from 1931 to 1951.
One will find the Lincoln Park Zoo to be friendly and hospitable, replete with scenic gardens where beautiful flowers abound. Those who want to break away from the frantic pace of their work can find solace in the zoo?s tree-lined walk paths that provide enough shade even during the hottest days. Architecture enthusiasts can also bask in the wonders of Georgian Revival structures which mix seamlessly with contemporary buildings. It is also the location of the historic and famous restaurant Caf? Brauer which was declared an official Chicago Landmark in 2003.
The Lincoln Park Zoo houses an extensive and diverse animal life ranging from mammals, to birds, to reptiles and amphibians. There are more than 80 species of mammals found in Lincoln Park Zoo from the most common to the most unusual. Some of these mammals are even sourced from far away continents such as the land down under Australia and from the panoramic savannahs of Africa. The Regenstein Center for African Apes is a hit across all ages. Of course, other mammals can be found in the zoo such as polar bears, camels, giraffes and rhinoceros, just to name a few.
Aside from mammals, the Lincoln Park Zoo showcases more than 2,300 reptiles and amphibians hailing from 70 different species ? from snakes, to frogs, to salamanders, to turtles. More than 300 individual birds from 75 species can be found in the extensive McCormick Bird House. Seals can be found swimming or lounging in the zoo?s seal pond while several penguins including the amusing King Penguin are house in the Kovler Penguin and Seabird House.
There are two interactive exhibits in Lincoln Park Zoo that can be enjoyed by kids and kids-at-heart. Tots can delight in an exciting canopy treetop escapade in the Pritzker Family Children?s Zoo where they are also taught the value of animal conservation. There is also the Farm-in-the-Zoo that gives families the chance to experience everyday farm activities like milking the cows and harvesting honey.
Lincoln Park Zoo is open every day all year long and only shuts down during bad weather. Otherwise, animal lovers or even those who just want to enjoy and have fun can immerse themselves for two to three hours within the resplendence of the Lincoln Park Zoo.