In 1868, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Commissioners received a pair of mute swans as a gift from New York City’s Central Park Commissioners. The birds became so popular that Chicago’s free zoo was established. Refurbished in 1996 through a bequest from the estate of Hope B. McCormick, the area is home to a pair of snow-white trumpeter swans and a reminder of the zoo’s long history of providing free access to the wonders of wildlife to the Chicagoland area. Waterfowl Lagoon was renovated in 1979 and again in 2003, to improve the behind-the-scenes area for its Chilean flamingo inhabitants. A bridge bisects both ponds, enabling viewing into Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond on the north side and Waterfowl Lagoon on the south.
In 2016, a new seating area was added to the north end of the pond, where visitors can soak in the beauty of the landscaping and native Illinois wildflowers and grasses.
Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond features a variety of birds, including trumpeter swans, ruddy ducks and hooded mergansers. Visitors will also notice native Illinois ducks that are not residents of the zoo but enjoy the beautiful pond.
Waterfowl Lagoon features swan geese and a flock of Chilean flamingos, two relatively cold-tolerant species that have outdoor living space and also an indoor, temperature-controlled space.
OPENED: 1868; renovated in 1979, 1996, and 2003
COST: Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond: $1 million; Waterfowl Lagoon: $1.05 million
LOCATION: North of Café Brauer gate and directly east of Foreman Pavilion
- Two scenic ponds, beautiful landscaping, waterfall features and native Illinois flora.
- Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond
- Outdoor aquatic and terrestrial space for variety of waterfowl including, trumpeter swans, ruddy ducks, hooded mergansers, Barrow’s goldeneye ducks, northern pintail ducks, wood ducks and other ducks native to the area but not residents of the zoo.
- Waterfowl Lagoon
- Outdoor aquatic and terrestrial space for a flock of Chilean flamingos and swan geese.
- An indoor, temperature-controlled space.
- Indoor and outdoor aquatic and terrestrial space for Chilean flamingos.
Viewing Area Features
- Both ponds are viewable from the path that surrounds the water and a bridge that halves the two ponds.
- Two secluded seating areas perfect for quiet reflection.
- Viewing of the Chilean flamingo flock from the pathway on the east side of the area.