Your journey through Africa has begun! We’ve had a full week in the Regenstein African Journey (RAJ) and it’s been full of amazing things! RAJ is my favorite building at Lincoln Park Zoo. There are so many unusual animals – from stately giraffes to the powerful aardvark – and the building’s setup takes you through various African habitats, as if you really are travelling!
It’s time to introduce you to the animals we will be sharing space with over the next few weeks – mammals, fish, reptiles, birds, and invertebrates. Are you ready?
We’re lucky to enter RAJ through a secret side door (Thanks for your patience in finding it!) so when you enter the building, you have the option to go right or left. Let’s head to the right!
- Hear that sound? Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches may look and sound frightening, but they are relatively shy. These crawlers push air through holes on the side of their bodies making their signature “hiss” sound! Venture into their cave to see these prehistoric-looking invertebrates.
- Does that crocodile eat those fish?! Nope! The African Dwarf Crocodile you see basking above a pool of fish is well-fed by our awesome keepers. She lives peacefully with the cichlid fish in her exhibit. Say hi to Maggie – we promise she’s not a statue!
- What’s beyond those double doors? These doors head to the main entrance, but don’t forget to stroll through. You’ll find birds and monkeys hopping from limb to limb. Take a moment to notice the different beaks of the Hadada Ibis, Abdim’s Stork, and African Spoonbill. If you look towards the back, you’ll see a family of Diana Monkeys grooming one another!
Reverse back to our LEAP entrance. It’s time to head to the left! Watch out for Golden Orb Weaver Spiders! You’ll only see females on exhibit – the males are too tiny to see!
- Why is the floor squishy? As you pass the termite mound, you’ll notice the floor changing. You’re entering the riverbank! Stop for a moment and see if you can spot the Pygmy Hippopotamus. Hippos shouldn’t be hard to find, right? These guys like to sleep and are very still, so they are often mistaken for large rocks in the water.
- What’s squawking so loud? As you head up the wooden ramp, you’ll see a long exhibit in front of you. This is the dry thorn. In this multi-species exhibit, you’ll see (and hear!) Black-Masked Lovebirds, Blue-Bellied Rollers, Hottentot Teals, Kenya Crested Guineafowl, and Red-Billed Hornbills – whew! These birds have amazing and unique feathers, as well as calls. If you aren’t too distracted by these feathered friends, try to spot the Klipspringer pair. These tiny antelope are quiet and wide-eyed, but are excellent rock climbers!
- You said there were giraffes… where are they? You’re almost there! Continue around the bend and you’ll stumble on my favorite area. Here you’ll find the Aardvark, Meerkats, and (drum roll, please!) Giraffes! Patsy, the aardvark, and the meerkat mob often switch exhibits. This is great enrichment for them! The giraffe girls love visitors! Take a moment to sit and marvel at their size.
- Why is it so dark? As you leave the giraffe area, you’ll turn the corner into a dimly-lit area with another squishy floor. Welcome to Lake Malawi! These colorful cichlids represent the species found in Africa and come in all shapes and sizes. How many can you find?
Pat yourself on the back! You’ve seen all the animals in RAJ. We hope you enjoy spending time in this building during LEAP – we sure do! As always, feel free to ask us questions about the animals or habitats in the Regenstein African Journey. We love sharing information!
Written by Nicole Filippone