Who Makes the Zoo Great?
Last week the zoo’s leaders—and top supporters—gathered at Café Brauer for our 56th Annual Meeting. As I shared then, the Annual Meeting is a great time to reflect on the highlights of the past year. But it’s also an essential time to celebrate the people who make Lincoln Park Zoo so special: our employees.
For everything you love about the zoo, whether it’s the prairie plants blooming at Nature Boardwalk or the perfect mud wallow waiting for baby rhino King, there’s someone working behind the scenes to make it happen. It’s impossible to give zoo employees all the credit they deserve, but it’s important to highlight everything they do for Chicago’s free zoo and its 3.5 million annual visitors.
One zoo staffer who was in the spotlight at the Annual Meeting was Research Fellow Dave Morgan, Ph.D., who co-leads the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. As you can see below, he spends much of his time in one of the most remote landscapes on Earth: the Republic of Congo’s pristine Goualougo Triangle. This untouched home for chimpanzees, gorillas and other wildlife offers a perfect place to study ape tool-use and behavior, and Dave joined us at the meeting to share some of his groundbreaking findings from the field.
As Dave also shared, though, the areas around the Goualougo Triangle are under increasing pressure from humans, including both logging and clear cutting for palm-oil plantations. By studying the impact of logging on great apes—and scientifically evaluating sustainable forestry practices—the Goualougo team can identify the best ways to safeguard these wild chimpanzees and gorillas.
Dave wasn’t the only one who shared his zoo experience at the Annual Meeting. Curator Mark Kamhout offered an update on baby rhino King, who continues to grow—and amaze visitors to the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit.
Senior Director Leah Melber, Ph.D., summed up the first year of programming at the zoo’s Hurvis Center for Learning Innovation and Collaboration, everything from introducing teens to zoo careers to developing an award-winning app that lets young students study animal behavior as scientists do.
As you’ll see, even after 145 years, there’s always something new happening at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is one of its thrills. At the same time, there are always countless people to thank for making it all possible.