Big Baby, Bigger Plans
Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed plenty of new arrivals in the year behind us, but none was bigger than baby black rhino King.
That’s partly a reference to his bulk—the “little guy” tipped the scales at 60 pounds when he was born last August and weighs in at more than 800 pounds today. But it’s also a tribute to his impact.
King’s arrival energized the zoo. That speaks to the fun of seeing him dash around mom Kapuki in the outdoor Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit. But it also speaks to the optimism embedded in his arrival.
Rhinos are facing a conservation crisis in the wild, one fueled by poaching of the worst kind. Given all the grim news surrounding the species, it’s a welcome boost to have one representative—King—growing in a safe space where he can thrive.
King’s arrival is a testament to long-term planning. Back in 2009 a $1 million dollar gift from the Harris Family Foundation enabled a rhino yard expansion that gave us the space—and the separable exhibits—necessary to enable King’s arrival.
That same vision fuels the next round of projects transforming zoo grounds. Over the past year, we’ve seen Regenstein Macaque Forest take shape at the heart of the zoo. This $15 million total project will provide a state-of-the-art home for Japanese snow monkeys, sharing their cool culture with visitors in all four seasons.
We also announced plans for immersive polar bear and African penguin habitats, slated to open in spring/summer 2016. Expansive tundra, shore and stream habitat reflects the latest research on polar bears’ needs—and, much like the rhino exhibit, this space can be divided to welcome new arrivals down the road. Similarly, endangered African penguins will be offered a vibrant place to dive and nest, connecting visitors to the rocky shorelines of Africa.
These changes reflect our commitment to setting the standard for zoos in the 21st century. As you’ll see, they were only a small part of another year of new arrivals, new discoveries and new connections with nature. It was a year to be proud of, but, as always, we look forward to more in the year ahead.
Kevin Bell, President and CEO
John Ettelson, Chairman
Shared as Lincoln Park Zoo prepares to celebrate its Annual Meeting, this “year in review” was originally published in the 2014 Annual Report (PDF, 5.5 MB).