The past year was a big one for Lincoln Park Zoo. We broke ground on our next great exhibit, Regenstein Macaque Forest and Lionel Train Adventure. We welcomed new arrivals including a kangaroo joey, vulture chick, baby gibbon and, of course, black rhino King.
Zoo scientists took home the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ highest award for International Conservation for our work leading the Serengeti Health Initiative. Our educators aimed to push the boundaries of their field with the creation of the Hurvis Center for Learning Innovation and Collaboration. And, of course, we shared the wonders of wildlife with more than 3.5 million visitors over the course of our year.
Looking back, though, I think that our greatest moment may be one that started in potential tragedy. As you remember, baby gorilla Nayembi sustained a serious facial injury in February. Our animal care experts responded immediately, but we weren’t sure what the outcome would be for the 3-month-old.
The zoo’s animal care staff tended to her around the clock. In nurturing the little one, our human caregivers did their best to channel their inner gorilla, displaying the behaviors of Nayembi’s natural family group in the hopes that she could one day be reintroduced to mom Rollie and the rest of Kwan’s troop.
It wasn’t easy. But thanks to their constant commitment, this hoped-for reintroduction happened this fall. Right now Nayembi lives with the rest of her family at Regenstein Center for African Apes, climbing and playing with her troopmates as a little gorilla should.
Baby gorilla Nayembi on exhibit with mom Rollie at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Obviously, we wish Nayembi’s injury had never happened. But its aftermath saw Lincoln Park Zoo at its best. There was the absolute commitment of our animal care staff—their resolve to do whatever was needed to help Nayembi recover. There was also comfort from the community as so many friends of the zoo shared their sympathies and reached out to help this little gorilla heal.
The 186 days of around-the-clock care that Nayembi needed to recover from her injury ultimately cost $107,508. That sum came from our members, donors and sponsors, the same people who keep our gates free and open 365 days a year, supporting zoo conservation around the globe and education at home.
Thank you for your commitment to the zoo—and Nayembi’s recovery. If you’re looking to make a further year-end gift in this time of giving, Lincoln Park Zoo can always use your support to remain free, open and amazing.
Everyone at the zoo appreciates your support. As you celebrate the holidays, we hope you can join us for ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Charter One, which runs nightly through January 5 (except December 24 and 25). We’ll also have Ice Skating at Lincoln Park Zoo until March 2.