New Exhibit Plans

Lincoln Park Zoo to Build New Monkey Habitat, Kids Train Adventure Ride, Enhanced Guest Amenities  

New experiences slated to debut Fall 2014

(Chicago – June 26, 2013) – This summer, Lincoln Park Zoo will begin construction on a 2.2 acre, $15 million capital improvement plan that will create 450 new jobs to build a state-of-the-art primate habitat, train adventure experience powered by a renowned train manufacturer and added guest amenities aimed at transforming the west central portion of the zoo.

The site just inside the zoo’s West Gate entrance across from Kovler Sea Lion Pool will spotlight Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. These primates, native only to Japan, are the world’s most northern living non-human primates. They are well-known for their behavioral complexity and tolerance of both warm and cold weather.

“This is one of the most exciting projects I have had the pleasure of helping bring, along with generous supporters, to the citizens of Chicago in my 37 years at Lincoln Park Zoo,” said Kevin J. Bell, President and CEO.  “For the first time in the history of the zoo, visitors will be able to enjoy the wonders of these snow monkeys and experience a truly enhanced train experience thanks to Lionel.”  

On a chilly winter day, red faces framed by brown fur will peek out from a steamy hot spring at Regenstein Macaque Forest. Amongst white pine trees and a rocky landscape, a group of macaques will provide an exciting year-round animal attraction at the zoo. The habitat is designed to highlight the macaques’ natural, inquisitive behavior. A variety of trees (live trees, artificial trees and deadfall) will be carefully placed to allow the monkeys to move easily from one to the next. Feeders in the form of traditional stone Japanese lanterns scattered throughout the landscape will entice the macaques into view to elicit natural behaviors. Macaques will play in the hot spring while others clean their food in the stream nearby.

The Macaque Forest will be equipped with webcams and combine cutting edge behavioral and cognitive research with educational interpretive learning programs. Mobile technology applications will not only enhance the visitor experience, but also provide educational engagement for non-visitors. There will be two sheltered viewing areas for guests. The north viewing shelter will include a glass-walled research pavilion, providing visitors a unique opportunity to observe primatologists interacting with the monkeys via touchscreen computers. A meeting space with a wall of windows looking into the macaques’ grassy outdoor habitat will provide visiting groups a private area to view the primates. The area will also house new handicap accessible public restrooms.

Lionel Train Adventure

Lionel, a pioneer and leader in the toy train industry, will build a new train station where a child-sized, electric-powered locomotive will seat 26-children and resemble a 19th Century style steam engine with a coal car, passenger cars and a caboose. The zoo’s existing rubber-wheeled kids train is one of the most popular activities for visitors with young children. This activity will be greatly enhanced and transformed into an adventure experience.

The adventure begins at a classic red brick train station with an environmentally-friendly green metal roof that mirrors the architectural style of landmark buildings at the zoo. As the train pulls out of the station, passengers will embark on an exciting trip through an evergreen forest. Next, the terrain changes elevation as the train crosses over a quaint country bridge before continuing on through a craggy canyon illuminating fossils. The train will pass through a lofty birch forest before returning to the red brick station.

Enhanced Guest Amenities

Regenstein Macaque Forest and Lionel Train Adventure will be the key attractions, while other enhancements and amenities to the area will add to the guest experience. In addition to new handicap-accessible restroom facilities, a larger more enticing dining plaza with lush landscaping and decoratively lit tree canopy will be created around the historic Eadie Levy Café for a perfect alfresco dining experience.

The West Gate entryway will be updated to include a new information kiosk that will help to better orient and welcome guests as they arrive. Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes 3.5 million visitors per year (more than any other zoo in the nation), and is one of the country’s last remaining free admission zoos. These improvements are aimed at enhancing this nationally renowned cultural institution.




EDITOR’S NOTE: Images and artistic renderings can be downloaded here:


Media Contacts:       

Sharon Dewar                     

(312) 742-2246              

Tiffany Ruddle
(312) 742-5791


Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit



Photos credited to iStockPhoto


Photos credited to Wikimedia


Photos and Concept Art credited to Lincoln Park Zoo