Review: Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

We knew of the African Apes, but we hadn’t heard about the ‘mind games’.

For this reason alone, our visit to Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, Illinois, was certainly an eye-opener.

Researchers at the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Centre have been using touch-screens, among other techniques, to understand how our closest cousins think.

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Encouraging gorillas and Japanese macaque monkeys to place objects on the screen in sequence may allow scientists to determine how they think and feel.

The centre, which brings together global experts and organisations, is working on these ‘mind games’ as part of its mission to advance knowledge of ape biology; improve care of apes in zoos and sanctuaries; and conserve and protect wild populations.

An excellent location

And the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo is a great facility for this work.

The zoo boasts the Regenstein Centre for African Apes, a $26million state-of-the-art facility that stretches over 29,000 square feet and includes complex forest and riverbed habitat.

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There are dozens of trees, 5,000 feet of artificial vines, skylights, bamboo strands, termite mounds, a waterfall, moat and heated logs.

Huge glass windows separate the indoors from the outdoors and zoo visitors can be actively involved in science and conservation initiatives.

Of course, the fascinating African apes are not the only attraction at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is a 35-acre historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868 against the stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan and the city’s famous skyscrapers.

Big cats and polar bears too

Other attractions at the free-admission zoo include big cats, polar bears, penguins and reptiles. In all, there are about 1,100 animals.

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Lincoln Park Zoo continues to be a big hit with the people of Chicago and surrounds.

We visited on a sunny Saturday and the zoo was busy without huge crowds.

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It is located at 2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, on the fringe of Lincoln Park.

The zoo boasts stunning views of the city’s impressive skyline from the bridge that spans its artificial wetlands.

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We thoroughly recommend this one.

Outstanding accessibility

Lincoln Park Zoo deserves a pat on the back for the steps it takes to ensure accessibility to older visitors and people with a disability.

The  Zoo’s main entrance and paid parking lot are located on its eastern side – and there  are 19 accessible parking spaces along Cannon Drive. There are also three areas reserved on northbound Stockton Drive for vehicles displaying accessibility placards. Parking in these areas is free:

Wheelchairs

These are available at Gateway Pavilion for temporary use by guests within the zoo. Loans are first come, first served. A refundable deposit of $US20 is required.

All public buildings at the zoo have at least one wheelchair-accessible entrance, as does the animal encounter program.

Lincoln Park Zoo permits the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices.

Service Animals

Service animals are also allowed at the zoo and there are sighted guides and sign-language assistance services.

See Vienna Zoo

Zoos are a favourite attraction of ours. See our review of Tiergarten Schoenbrunn, Vienna’s wonderful zoo

 

Chicago travel

Riding a rickshaw

We took our first pedicab ride in Chicago, Illinois.

Obviously, we’d seen rickshaws in Asia, but being keen walkers, we had never been tempted to use what we considered to be mainly a novelty.

However, in Chicago, it was a matter of exhaustion.

We’d walked several miles from the Hilton Chicago on South Michigan Avenue through the city centre and on to Lincoln Park Zoo.

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A typical pedicab

Getting there was fine, but the return journey late in the afternoon proved a hard slog and by the time we reached The Loop – as Chicago calls its CBD – our feet were aching.

Near Chicago’s Millennium Park, several pedicabs passed by – and, on impulse, we hailed a rider and asked about prices.

After some quick haggling, we settled on about $US8 and climbed aboard the pedicab for the six or seven city blocks to the hotel.

Although the ride wasn’t fast, it was exhilarating and lots of fun.

Our pedicab was designed for two people and even included seatbelts. However, we didn’t feel in any danger as the rider stuck close to the edge of the busy road and cars gave us plenty of room.

The only time our pedicab had to sound its bell, was to alert cyclists and other rickshaws of our approach.

Rickshaws are used in many US cities, mainly for their novelty value as an entertaining form of transportation for tourists and locals.

According to our Chicago rider, the first known commercial use of pedicabs in North America occurred in 1962 at the Seattle World’s Fair.

Why not. They are heaps of fun.

Chicago travel US