Polar Bear and Penguin Habitats

The new penguin habitat will provide an immersive outdoor home for African penguins.

The new penguin habitat will provide an immersive outdoor home for African penguins.

Two New State-of-the-Art Exhibits

The north side of the zoo will get a brand-new look in 2016 as Lincoln Park Zoo unveils immersive new homes for polar bears and penguins. Roughly 45,000 square feet of habitat will be transformed to evoke the species’ native Arctic tundra and rocky shores of South Africa. This $22 million effort will inspire natural behaviors—and new views—for two of the zoo’s best-loved species.

The new polar bear habitat will replicate the Arctic predator's native landscape

The new polar bear habitat will replicate the Arctic predator's native landscape. See larger version.

Polar Bears: Room for Two

The new polar bear habitat will reflect the latest understanding of the species’ needs. Pools will encourage natural underwater play, but there will also be plenty of dry tundra terrain for the massive predators to explore.

This new, larger habitat can be divided into two separate living spaces—a necessity for hoped-for cubs down the road! In addition to the built-in breeding room, the space will also have an “ice cave” near the glass where the polar bears can cool down on hot summer days.

The penguin pairs will have nest boxes for breeding behind the scenes. Photo by iStock.

The penguin pairs will have nest boxes for breeding behind the scenes. Photo by iStock.

Penguins, Hold the Ice

Located next to Regenstein African Journey, this outdoor exhibit will be home to more than a dozen African penguins. This species is native to South Africa’s temperate coasts in the wild, meaning they’re well adapted to living outdoors during Chicago summers and winters.

More than a dozen penguins will dive and play in the pool fronting the habitat’s rocky cliffs. Nest boxes behind the scenes will give the bird a cozy space to pair up in…and produce the next generation.


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The expanded habitat will provide space for two polar bears and possible cubs.

Post from the President—Penguin (and Polar) Plans  
The north side of the zoo will get a brand-new look in 2016 as Lincoln Park Zoo unveils immersive new homes for polar bears and penguins. President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the details.