Stretching into the Sky
If you’ve made your way through the heart of the zoo lately, you may have noticed that Regenstein Macaque Forest is starting to look like a real exhibit!
Sure, construction fencing still surrounds the site. Hard hats and eye protection remain mandatory as cranes lift building materials and excavators shape piles of earth.
But the artificial trees that define the upper reaches of this forest habitat now rise above the surrounding zoo. Gunnite rockwork beneath conjures the mountainous slopes Japanese macaques inhabit in the wild. A massive viewing window is outlined in concrete and partially covered in brick. Right in front of it you can see the foundation of the hot spring these snow monkeys will soak in during Chicago’s winters.
More work is taking place outside the public eye. A research tunnel (lovingly called a “hobbit hole” by our experts) will give zoo scientists a central, secure spot for studying these dynamic social primates. A “training wall” will also be integrated into the exhibit, offering researchers and animal care staff a protected area to interact with the snow monkeys, enabling the same exciting touch-screen research and token-exchange studies that we’ve seen with the zoo’s chimpanzees and gorillas.
Of course, Regenstein Macaque Forest isn’t the only part of the zoo’s west end seeing a revamp. You can see the roof of the new Lionel Train Adventure taking shape near the West Gate; the track surrounding it will offer a fun, immersive ride for visitors. The West Gate itself is being redone with red-brick pillars and impressive metalwork. Finally, the plaza surrounding Eadie Levy’s Landmark Café will be landscaped with new gardens, integrating the century-old building into the surrounding exhibits…once construction ceases around its red roof frame.
After a long winter—and plenty of work at ground level—it’s exciting to see Regenstein Macaque Forest reaching up into the sky. The new exhibit is slated to open this fall; I’ll keep you updated as we see more milestones along the way.
Get ready for snow! Regenstein Macaque Forest will welcome a troop of Japanese snow monkeys, offering this active species a place to play in all seasons