Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House

Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House features approximately 200 small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds in naturalistic habitats.

Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House features approximately 200 small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and birds in naturalistic habitats, coexisting with each other, in some instances. There are approximately 60 different species of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds in two distinct areas—the Gallery and the Ecosystem—representing the climates and conditions of South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. With a lap around the Gallery, visitors witness the diversity and delicate nature of amphibians and reptiles, from Mexico’s mysterious and highly endangered Axolotl salamander, to vibrant poison dart frogs, to federally threatened eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. There is a 25-seat auditorium for educational programs, videos, and presentations.

Between the Gallery and the Ecosystem is a magnificent baobab tree that measures 25 feet in diameter, forming a dark cave where Egyptian fruit bats hand and naked mole rats burrow.

Visitors feel, hear and smell a world of lush tropics as they immerse themselves into the Ecosystem, a humid jungle area covered by a 45-foot-high glass dome. Featuring several mixed-species habitats, this area is home to Hoffman’s two-toed sloths, dwarf crocodiles, Asian small-clawed otters and much more. A split, terrestrial and aquatic view of two exhibits—the Asian small-clawed otter and the spectacled caiman ensures that visitors don’t miss any species-specific behavior on land or in the water. Visitors can also enjoy a scenic aerial view in the Ecosystem Mezzanine, overlooking the various exhibits including the Puerto Rican parrot exhibit where visitors can catch glimpse of the only two Puerto Rican parrots in the U.S.

Fast Facts

OPENED: 1997
COST: $6 million
SIZE: 32,000-square feet
LOCATION: West side of the zoo, north of Foreman Pavilion

Exhibit Features

  • The Gallery acquaints visitors with the wet and wild world of amphibians, the intricate world of reptiles and the nocturnal existence of certain small mammals.
  • The Ecosystem immerses visitors in the worlds of a variety of species ranging from Asian small-clawed otters and fennec foxes to dwarf crocodiles, red-footed tortoises and Puerto Rican parrots.

Viewing Area Features

  • The Gallery:
    • As the viewing areas of each species are windows, close in proximity, the Gallery enables visitors to compare and contrast the resident reptiles, amphibians and small mammals as they walk by.
    • This area houses a 25-seat auditorium for educational programs, videos and presentations.
  • The Ecosystem:
    • A baobab tree, 25 feet in diameter, creates caves and cubbies for a dynamic and immersive viewing experience.
    • A boardwalk area featuring five exhibits with water features.
    • Four open-air exhibits that enable visitors to truly connect with intriguing species from a variety of ecosystems.
    • A landing area that provides an aerial view into the exhibits and naturalistic landscape and a space for educational programs, meetings and presentations.

Awards/Recognition

• Illinois Landscape Contractors, Gold Award Excellence in Landscape Awards – 1998

• Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Award of Merit, Environmental Improvement Awards – 1997

Featured Wildlife

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