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Friday, July 6, 2012
Spending the Night at Lincoln Park Zoo
Ever wonder what all the animals are up to once the zoo closes? About 60 people hung out after-hours at the zoo last Friday to find out! At Sleep Under the Skyscrapers: Outdoor Campout, families pitched tents on the zoo’s South Lawn, ate a communal dinner, participated in evening activities and hunkered down to snooze at the zoo.
Families explored zoo buildings to peek in on the animals and see what they do at night. Kids and their parents worked on a fun ethology, or animal behavior, study to determine whether more animals around the zoo were active or inactive. While the Pallas’ cats were sleeping soundly, the snow leopard was wide awake…even roaring as one of the tour groups walked by! Everyone was surprised to find that so many animals were up and active during the evening hours.
An outreach specialist from outdoor gear retailer REI shared tips for camping with the family while a campfire crackled and popped in a bonfire pit, providing plenty of warmth to roast marshmallows for tasty s’mores. What better way to reward yourself for sleeping outdoors in a tent on a hot summer night?
Once all the evening activities slowed down, some families gathered to watch a bedtime movie and munch on popcorn while others drifted off to sleep back at the campsite. Although there was a brief thunderstorm and some rain during the night, the families toughed it out and slept through it in their tents…only to wake up to the loud whooping song of the white-cheeked gibbons!
Come morning, the families had breakfast (including some strong coffee to really wake up!) and then headed out on a guided hike around Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. The group spotted a bullfrog, ducklings, bluegill and even some raccoon tracks in the mud. The perfect ending to a unique zoo experience!
Jaclyn Peterson is manager of public programs at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Want to join us for a future Sleep Under the Skyscrapers: Outdoor Campout? The Full Overnight component for the remaining summer campouts are sold out, but there are still spots available for the Evening Encounter portion of this program, which takes place from 6–10 p.m. Jump in on the nighttime fun and then go home to sleep in your own bed!