Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh Wow! This month I took a visit to Lincoln Park Zoo, located in the heart of downtown Chicago. This urban oasis is a world of wildlife set amongst the shadows of skyscrapers. Open 365 days a year, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the country’s last remaining FREE zoos! Boasting more than 200 different species; everything from Alpacas to Grevy’s Zebras, visitors can venture through an African journey, dive deep into the penguin and seabird house, or listen for roars in the lion house!
But I went to Lincoln Park Zoo to monkey around…or should I say ‘ape around’. Lincoln Park Zoo offers many different opportunities for visitors to get a little closer and learn a little more about some of their animals. I was lucky enough to experience the “Pathway to Primatology” program in the state of the art Regenstein Center for African Apes! We got to go behind the scenes to learn all about ape behavior. We even got to see how Lincoln Park Zoo researchers use cognition experiments to better understand the thought process of gorillas!All leading up to the moment when I got to step inside the shoes of a primatologist to carefully observe and record the behavior patterns of the male silverback gorilla, JoJo! I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a primatologist, but I sure did enjoy the chance to learn more about these great apes.
Of course, just like the chimpanzees, my favorite part of the day was lunch. No Chicago style pizza for these guys. Honey and applesauce are what they’re after. Staying true to their natural habitat, zoo keepers place the food inside a re-created termite mound allowing the chimps to develop their much studied tool use!