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Lincoln Park Zoo Announce Opening Date For New Exhibit

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: June 20, 2021 4:30 pm

Lincoln Park Zoo New Lion Exhibit

An artist rendering of the new African lion habitat at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Goettsch Partners

Lincoln Park Zoo have announced that their new state-of-the-art habitat, Pepper Family Wildlife Center will open in Fall 2021 welcoming lions and other carnivores back to the zoo.

Along with a pride of African lions the new habitat will feature snow leopard, Canada lynx and red pandas.

Lincoln Park Zoo New Lion Exhibit

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake hatchlings at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

“We are eagerly awaiting the return of African lions to Lincoln Park Zoo,” said Maureen Leahy, vice president of animal care and horticulture. “The transformation of the building provides a dynamic space for the lions and other species to thrive and will be a place for Chicagoans to support conservation of these vulnerable and endangered species in the wild.”

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center is a $41 million renovation of the former lion house with major funding from a a $15 million gift from Roxelyn and the late Richard Pepper. Breaking ground in 2019 the new exhibit includes a renovation of the interior and expansive new habitats outside.

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The original lion house building was constructed in 1912 and in 2005 received designation as a Chicago landmark. Teams working on the renovation consulted with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to preserve, restore, and enhance the architecturally significant features of the historic building.

Goettsch Partners is the principal architect and PJA is the exhibit designer for Pepper Family Wildlife Center. Pepper Construction is the General Contractor.

Lincoln Park Zoo New Lion Exhibit

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake hatchlings at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

Using data collected over several years the Lincoln Park Zoo team have been able to design the new habitat to maximize welfare for the African lion pride. The new habitat will include intricate rockwork adding vertical complexity to the habitat. Imbedded in the rocks will be heaters and coolers to help keep the animals comfortable. Food will be delivered through a zipline mimicking their prey.

“With this renovation, the size of the lion habitat nearly doubled and will provide the lions with so many choices! Thermal comfort zones, trees for climbing, elevated rocks to give the lions high vantage points, areas to seek privacy, shade, and shelter, and special enrichment features to encourage species-specific behaviors,” said Leahy. “For visitors, the expansive viewing windows provide new opportunities to see these cats up close from both inside and outside the building.” 

Lincoln Park Zoo New Lion Exhibit

A scale model of the African lion habitat under construction at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

Learn more about African Lions here – African Lion Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Lincoln Park Zoo on their website – Lincoln Park Zoo

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