Change at Kovler Penguin-Seabird House

Looking to the Future

Update—November 29, 2011

Lincoln Park Zoo is now bidding a bon voyage to old friends at the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House. Stop by to wish the birds happy holidays and a final farewell before the house permanently closes to the public on December 5.

The penguin house is closing after 30 years to make way for a new state-of-the-art animal exhibit in its place in the future. All the birds have found homes at Associations of Zoos and Aquariums–accredited institutions throughout the United States and Canada. Two rockhopper penguins hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo are staying in Chicago; 3-year-old Dixie and 5-year-old Bryana will be moving to the Shedd Aquarium.

“Winter is the best time to relocate these cool-weather birds, so as we celebrate the season we bid them a fond farewell. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I oversaw the opening of the building,” said Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO Kevin Bell. “We are resolving to include penguins in our future as plans for new exhibits are developed in the New Year.”

Original Article—September 22, 2011

After 30 years, the time has come for Lincoln Park Zoo to begin the process of closing down the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House as we prepare for our next great exhibit. While the building is holding up despite its age, there are significant concerns as to how long the equipment that maintains the exhibits’ temperatures will continue working appropriately.

“When I was curator of birds, the creation of this building was my first major exhibit project at the zoo,” says Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO Kevin Bell. “While it’s hard to believe 30 years have passed so quickly, I’m as excited today about our plans for creating the next great state-of-the-art animal habitat in that space as I was several decades ago when we laid the groundwork for the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House.”

In closing the building, the birds’ welfare is obviously a top concern. The best time to move these species is during cooler winter months. Knowing it will take some time to find homes for all the animals, it’s prudent to start the process of moving animals to other institutions sooner rather than later.

Over the next several weeks, Lincoln Park Zoo will actively begin seeking homes for the penguins and seabirds at accredited zoos and aquariums. At this time, there isn’t a specific closure date for the building. It will remain open for the public to enjoy until the birds have been successfully placed elsewhere.

The zoo eagerly looks forward to the future, where this will be the site of a great new state-of-the-art exhibit. Specific plans aren’t solidified, but there are lots of exciting ideas in the works. “Today we’re working to set the path for the next couple decades ahead,” says Bell. “We’re fleshing out a lot of great ideas and concepts that I think will excite our members and supporters.”

As the zoo prepares to say goodbye to the penguins for now, we have every intention of including penguins in our plans for future exhibits.


Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Colleen Lynch fills us in on how Lincoln Park Zoo’s former penguins and seabirds are adjusting to their new homes.

Where Are They Now?
How are Lincoln Park Zoo’s former penguins and seabirds adjusting to their new homes? Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Colleen Lynch fills us in on everything from escape attempts to the “rock star” treatment.