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Ultimate guide to the Lincoln Park Zoo

Located in Lincoln Park, Chicago Illinois, the Lincoln Park Zoo is often referred to as the Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens. It is a 35-acre zoo that was founded in 1868, making it the fourth oldest zoo in North America. It is home to a wide range of animals including lions, polar bears, gorillas, penguins, snakes, and monkeys. In total, there are about 1,100 animals from about 200 species situated at the zoo. We shall take a closer look at what to expect when you visit the zoo and the various events taking place.


 As mentioned above, the zoo was founded in 1868 and is in one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods. The zoo is open all year round and admission to the zoo is free. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians all reside at the zoo. Every species has been housed in exhibits depending on its habitat. The zoo is also home to vibrant gardens, ecosystems, and more than 1200 species of plants.

In 1878, local law stated that admission to the zoo must always remain free. Therefore, the zoo is funded by doctors, members, and visitors and a subsidy from the Chicago Park District. The Lincoln Zoo is the only privately managed zoo in the United States. The zoo has probably the biggest zoo-based conservation programs in the United States. These science programs’ mission is to study and provide better care for wildlife. Increasing welfare, enhancing populations, and conserving threatened wildlife are some of the focuses of the zoo.

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Exhibits at the Lincoln Park Zoo

  • Regenstein Macaque Forest – It has been made specifically for Japanese Macaque monkeys to have fun in. These are quite playful and curious creatures. The habitat of the forest has unique and different features to it, and it overall makes it a cool place to visit.
  • Water Family Arctic Tundra – It is situated at the north end of the zoo and is home to two polar bears. These polar bears are quite vulnerable to climate change and human impact and therefore their habitat has been designed to support breeding polar bears with possible cubs. Other than the polar bears, The Water Family Arctic Tundra also features a tactile ice wall so that visitors can get a unique experience of the natural habitat of the Arctic.
  • Penguin Cove – It is the Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove which is home to African penguins. Inspired by the Boulders Beach in South Africa, their habitat is composed of a pool and a rocky area. It is fun to see the penguins hang about even though they are not always out of their shelter.
  • Regenstein African Journey – This is one that you will not want to miss. It presents over two dozen native animal species and four different ecosystems that are found within Africa. Once you visit, you will be able to see hippos, black rhinos, giraffes, crocodiles, and much more. There is so much wildlife to see here and it is a unique part of the zoo.
  • Pepper Family Wildlife Center – Due to it being home to the African Lion, it is one of the most famous areas of the Lincoln Park Zoo. At the wildlife center, there are typically two male lions, a bunch of female lions, and some cubs. Over here, you can snap plenty of pictures as viewing spaces are quite open. The exhibit also features a lynx, a panda, and a snow leopard.
  • Small –Mammal Reptile House – This is another immensely popular feature for visitors. As the name suggests it has small mammals and reptiles with close to 200 species. Just to name a few are snakes, turtles, mice, and much more.
  • Waterfowl Lagoon – Best known for its Chilean flamingos, the Waterfowl Lagoon is just outside the small mammal reptile house. If you are visiting during the winter, you may not be able to see the flamingos as they retreat into their indoor habitat.
  • Regenstein Center for African Apes – It is one of the favorites of everyone in the zoo. Gorillas and chimpanzees are called home to this exhibit. They have a wide selection of trees and ropes to hang on. These are amazing animals that are so much fun to see up close.
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  • Run for the ZooThis tradition has been ongoing for over 40 years now. It involves a 10k run, and a kid’s obstacle course, and is open to people of all ages. The event takes place in the zoo and is meant to support the animals in the zoo.
  • Zoo Club – This is an online program in which teenagers can get involved to learn, build skills, and make connections regarding topics of zoo and animals.
  • Craft Brews – This festival is for adults only and you can sample up to 100 craft beers. This event takes place all through the zoo gardens and involves food, games, and zoo animals. This is a ticketed event.
  • ZooLights Festival – This is one of Chicago’s best festivals and involves the display of beautiful colors and lights. During the festival, the zoo turns into a winter wonderland. The ZooLights festival has some ticketed days and some free days. All the money collected from the tickets goes towards animal care, conservation efforts, and educational programs.

Things to Do

  • Lincoln Train adventure – This is again a ticketed attraction and involves a train ride that is perfect for kids.
  • Seal training and feeding – Here you can watch the seals being fed and trained up close.
  • Ape care – This takes place Monday to Friday, and you can learn the methods involved in taking care of the zoo’s apes.
  • Nature Boardwalk – Take a walk along the Nature Boardwalk. This pond ecosystem encompasses 14-acre preserved ecosystems and wetlands, natural shorelines, and native plantings. It has some beautiful views and is a must-see attraction at Lincoln Park Zoo.
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Hours, directions, and Location

  • The hours for the zoo are 10 am to 5 pm every day, 365 days of the year. Tickets are free.
  • The address of the zoo is 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL, 60614 and the phone number is (312)-742-2000.
  • There is a parking lot close to the zoo at 2400 N Cannon Drive. It is open from 6 am to 11 pm and the first hour of parking is free and for the rest of the day, it ranges from $30-$40 per day.
  • You can tour the zoo on your own but there are also special tours available which you can check on their website.
  • The zoo is accessible by walking, driving, and public transport.
  • If you do not mind paying a parking fee, getting there by car is the most convenient way. This is especially true if you are a big family.
  • If you are staying near Lincoln Park Zoo, walking is an easy way to get there.
  • As for public transport, there are no specific buses or trains that reach Lincoln Park Zoo. The 22, 36, and 151 buses all have stops along the Western edge of Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • If you are coming by train, take the Red Line to Fullerton Station and the Brown and Purple Line to Armitage Station. From these stations, the zoo will be about a mile east walking distance.
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Food and other things

There are many restaurants and cafes located inside the zoo, but it is recommended that you eat outside the zoo as the prices are quite high in Lincoln Park Zoo. There are quite a high number of good coffee shops and restaurants available in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

It takes 2-3 hours to get around the entire zoo. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and footwear, and you will have to walk around a lot.

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