Since 1879, pinnipeds have greeted guests at Lincoln Park Zoo. While the pinnipeds’ engaging and dynamic manner has remained the same, their aquatic environment has been steadily updated over the years to promote their welfare, improve animal care capabilities and provide a memorable experience for visitors. The 2016 renovations expanded the terrestrial space for seals and created a more naturalistic aquatic space for the two harbor and two gray seals.
Kovler Seal Pool teaches visitors about Lincoln Park Zoo’s expert animal care, as guests can watch daily positive reinforcement training sessions that encourage the seals to participate in their own care. Narrated by a Learning Interpreter, these sessions involve keepers rewarding seals for desired behaviors with preferred food items. There is stadium seating for observing these sessions. There is additional viewing from Main Mall, as well as an underwater viewing area.
OPENED: Originally opened in 1879 as a sea lion pool, the exhibit was renovated in 1999 and named Kovler Seal Pool. It was updated again in 2016.
COST: $4.7 million in The Heart of the Zoo Campaign
LOCATION: East of West Gate on Main Mall, south of Lionel Train Adventure
- Underwater space with naturalistic rockwork and artificial kelp strands.
- Underwater lighting to enhance viewing in the evening.
- Terrestrial space, expanded in the 2016 renovation, which allows seals to choose between sunny and shaded areas and provides additional space where keepers can conduct positive-reinforcement training sessions for public viewing.
Viewing Area Features
- Stadium seating where guests can observe daily operant-conditioning sessions conducted by keepers to promote seal health and welfare.
- Underwater viewing area beneath the stadium seating, accessible via two doors on the east and west side of the exhibit.
- Open-air viewing on the north side of the exhibit on Main Mall.