Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Zoo in Winter

January 19, 2023

Although many people don’t think to frequent the zoo in the middle of the coldest months of the year, the zoo is open every day. Yes, the zoo is beautiful at the height of summer, with hardy hibiscus blooming while trumpeter swans and different duck species rest along the banks of the pond. But the zoo in winter holds a special charm for those in the know. Here are some reasons you might want to visit this winter!

1. Quiet and Calm

For many, the zoo is a quieter and more peaceful place in winter. You can take your time as you explore zoo spaces from Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo to Nature Boardwalk. Many guests may be gone but the animals remain, making the zoo a great place to spend an otherwise dreary time of year.

2. Active Animals

Many animals that are adapted to cold weather reside at Lincoln Park Zoo, from polar bears and red pandas to snowy owls and Japanese macaques (or “snow monkeys”). Winter is a great time to see animals frolicking in the cold and icy conditions for which Chicago is known. Of course, all animals have access to warm indoor areas if they choose.

3. Line of Sight

Not only is it easier to see animals in winter, it’s more convenient to hang around and watch them for a while. In summer, it may feel like you’re always rushing to see the next thing on your list. Now, though, you can linger and learn.

4. Natural Connections

You don’t have to try hard to enjoy nature in the spring, when everything is green and growing. But it may be more important to take time for connecting in winter, when it’s more challenging to get out and support your mental and physical health. The zoo in winter exudes a special beauty; don’t miss out!

5. Fantastic Flora

Horticulture staff members work in all seasons to keep the grounds beautiful. And while the fruits of their labor may not be as obvious in the winter, the varied textures and lovely yet muted colors you see in the dormant plants on grounds in winter are no accident; they’re the result of thoughtful maintenance, care, and living wildlife-friendly year-round.

6. Show Your Support

Winter may be a quiet guest season here, but the animals and plants still require care. Your visit to the zoo helps support the work Lincoln Park Zoo does every day to care for animals and fund conservation initiatives around the world.

7. Warming Ways

The zoo features a number of cozy buildings that let you take a break from the frigid weather. For example, Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House evokes the African countries to which naked mole rats are native, as well as the South and Central American homes of prehensile-tailed porcupines.

8. Learn and Play

Staff run learning programs daily at Lincoln Park Zoo; right now, you can check out the Seal Training & Feeding twice daily at Kovler Seal Pool and Ape Cognition & Care demonstration at Regenstein Center for African Apes. You can also enjoy the AT&T Endangered Species Carousel and Lionel Train Adventure (both are ticketed experiences) or check out the new Houston Family Play Treehouse at Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.

9. Diversify Your Experiences

A winter visit at the zoo is definitely different than one you undertake in July. It may include less greenery and ice cream but more time talking to volunteers and staff about animals. If Lincoln Park Zoo is a place you love, you’ll want to come find out what it has to offer even when the city itself seems to hibernating.

10. Beat the Seasonal Blues

Local actor Gary Cole once reportedly said, “I miss everything about Chicago, except January and February.” The post-holiday period can be challenging for many. But a trip to the zoo can provide you with a bit of exercise, a touch more light, and close encounters with animals you love. If you tend to get moody and lose motivation in winter, a trip to the zoo may be just want you need.

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