Lions And Zoos

Lions and other big cats return to Lincoln Park Zoo

Lions and other big cats are returning to Lincoln Park Zoo after a hiatus of almost two years, and predator lovers at the top will be able to see them in the zoo’s newly renovated state-of-the-art habitat.

This habitat, named the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, will open to the public next month and feature a new pride of lions consisting of a male and three females. There will also be two red pandas, two Canadian lynxes and two snow leopards.

The male lion is named Jabari and is from Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, and three sisters – Zari, Hasira, and Cleo – are from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina.

“All of the new residents of the Pepper Family Wildlife Center have arrived safely and are settling in well,” said Maureen Leahy, vice president of animal care and horticulture. “As a science-based institution committed to advancing animal welfare, this renovation focuses on animal choices. From thermal comfort zones to trees for climbing, and even special enrichment features, the new space offers so many choices for lions.

The zoo’s lion house was the subject of a $ 41 million renovation project in 2019 with the help of a $ 15 million donation from Roxelyn and Richard Pepper – whose habitat is named after . The original Lion House was built in 1912 and designated Chicago Landmark in 2005.

Renovations to the facility included updates to the building’s exterior and interior and new lion habitat. One of these new features is an “extended savannah-style habitat” which includes “climate-controlled areas with heated rock surfaces, warm cool air and shade”.

The zoo said it has collected data over the past few years on lion behavior, space use and preferences to help inform how it designed the lion’s new habitat. It spans the entire north side of the building with intricate options for lions to climb, play, and rest.

Guests will be able to observe wildlife from both inside and outside the habitat. The new “Lion Loop” inside the facility allows customers to view the exhibit from the habitat center. Visitors will also have the opportunity to watch the lions participate in their own health care through the facility’s “demonstration training wall”.

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center opens to the public on October 14, and members of the Lincoln Park Zoo have special access October 1-3 with varying hours.

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