Wild File Fall/Winter 2022
November 14, 2022
November 14, 2022
News Briefs from Lincoln Park Zoo
A Growing Cozy Colony
Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove welcomed a new penguin chick this summer! After a 38-day incubation period, an African penguin chick hatched on July 29 to experienced parents 16-year-old female Sunny and 13-year-old male TJ. The chick was hatched as part of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan®, a collaborative effort among accredited zoos to sustainably manage the population. After growing in size and strength behind the scenes in the chick’s nest box and developing waterproof feathers, the chick can now be seen swimming around the habitat with the other 21 penguins. The chick is recognizable by its grayish feathers, as juvenile penguins do not develop their iconic tuxedo-like appearance in the first year.
Commitment to Community
Lincoln Park Zoo was honored to recognize Lifetime Trustee Sarah Pang for her 30+ year dedication to the zoo and for fostering relationships that have impacted the zoo’s success. Pang has been a critical lifeline to the City of Chicago and the Mayor’s Office during Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Lori Lightfoot’s administrations, ensuring the zoo remained top of mind and getting critical issues on their respective agendas. In 2017, she played a crucial role in securing a commitment from the City of Chicago and reigniting the promise that Lincoln Park Zoo would remain admission-free until at least 2050. She has also helped advocate for critical capital campaign support and security measures across the zoo. To recognize Pang’s philanthropic commitment to Lincoln Park Zoo and dedication to community engagement efforts, the director of community engagement position at the zoo has been renamed to the Sarah J. Pang Director of Community Engagement. To learn more about this position, see Zoo Family Album on page 28.
Pardon Our Dust
Like most of Chicago, summer meant construction here at Lincoln Park Zoo. For the past several months, the zoo has been updating the aggregate across zoo grounds to ensure smooth, accessible pathways around the 35 acres within zoo gates. The pathways surrounding Regenstein African Journey and the Camel & Zebra Area have been updated and work will continue this spring.
If you have visited the zoo lately, you may have also noticed an updated parking lot! The parking lot has been renovated to include additional speed bumps and tables as safety measures. It also has updated garden beds and is freshly seal coated. We appreciate your patience as we finalize these projects and continue to improve the zoo.
A Vaccine A Day…
OK, that’s not quite how the saying goes. However, Lincoln Park Zoo is incredibly grateful that the impact of COVID-19 has been minimal on the animals in our care. Much credit should be given to dedicated animal care staff who have been diligent about personal protective equipment when engaging with the animals in our care, and to zoo guests who have helped protect the animals by wearing masks during their visit. That said, the animals should get some credit, too.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Veterinary Services and Animal Care had been working with colleagues and other disease experts to best understand the possible risks of COVID-19 on the animals in our care. The zoo is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the animals by using the best available scientific resources. As such, the most at-risk species at the zoo—including nonhuman primates, big cats and others— began receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, donated by Zoetis to zoos and other animal organizations.
This is where the animals come in. Chimpanzees, gorillas, lions, snow leopards, otters, howler monkeys, lemurs, and more participated in daily voluntary training sessions with keepers to present their shoulders, hips, or backs. These skills don’t happen overnight. First, the animals must engage with the zoo keepers during a training session where they shape the behavior until the animal is offering the correct body part. Then, keepers work on having the individual animals keep their bodies in place.
Next comes desensitizing the “poke” of receiving a vaccination. To do this, keepers will use a small dowel rod to get animals used to that body part being touched and then transition to a syringe. While all of these actions take place, the animals are rewarded with their favorite foods for positive reinforcement. After many training sessions, that “poke” is replaced with the vaccination with little to no reaction from the individual. After all, they’re busy eating their favorite snacks and have established trusting relationships with their trainers.
With these practices in place, the zoo is thrilled to share that all nonhuman primates at the zoo have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. All big cats— including cub Pilipili—are up to date, and several additional species have an added layer of protection against this illness.
Houston Family Play Treehouse
After 17 years of love and laughter, the climber at Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo was removed this summer due to wear and tear. This removal presented an opportunity to re-envision the space and incorporate inputs from guest experience, animal welfare, accessibility and inclusion.
Now, the Children’s Zoo is home to the Houston Family Play Treehouse! The structure offers a year-round indoor nature based play space and nicely complements the Wild Sapling Play Forest nearby outside.
The new structure includes accessible and inclusive features. These involve elements such as a tunnel that provides tactile and other sensory experiences for wheelchairs to navigate inside and a variety of tactile animals placed around the structure to allow for variation with interaction while benefiting guests who are blind or have low vision. The treehouse also features interactive elements at all heights to be accessed by guests using a wheelchair. Space in and around the structure encourages full exploration by guests using wheelchairs, white canes, crutches, and other assistive items.
One additional change? There will no longer be terrarium habitats incorporated into the new play structure; Lincoln Park Zoo research and animal welfare assessments showed the previous climber was disruptive to animals in those habitats. This is one of the many examples of the zoo’s “evaluate and enhance” philosophy to continually research and adjust animal care practices in a way that benefits animal wellbeing.
The next time you’re at the zoo, check out the Houston Family Play Treehouse!
Big Win for Big Cats
The Big Cat Safety Act passed in the House of Representatives and is moving on to the Senate! This resolution strengthens federal law by prohibiting the possession, sale, transfer, and breeding of tigers, lions, and other big cat species—except by qualified entities, including Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited institutions like Lincoln Park Zoo.
According to AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe, this bill effectively ends the unsafe and unethical use of big cats and their cubs for commercial photo ops, petting, and similar activities that undermine animal care and welfare, encourage exploitation, and incentivize unscientific breeding.
The bill was brought forth by Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, a staunch advocate of wildlife and of Lincoln Park Zoo. The bill was cosponsored by 259 representatives and was adopted with a vote of 278–134. Lincoln Park Zoo has supported this bill and advocated for its passing. We are hopeful it will pass in the Senate and we will be one step closer to protecting all big cats in human care.