Meet the Animals in Children's Zoo

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You might notice that we don’t have the Children’s Zoo to ourselves.  Luckily, every week, we get to share the building with a few cute and playful friends—the animals! All of the animals that call the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo home are native to North America. As you spend the next 5 weeks exploring the Children’s Zoo and making new discoveries at our LEAP stations, don’t forget to get to know our four-legged, feathered, and buck-toothed pals. We’d like to take the time to introduce you to the animals that you’ll be playing side-by-side with this spring. 

North American River Otters

North American River Otters are one of the most playful animals that live at Lincoln Park Zoo. Our pair, a male and female, are often found swimming laps in their indoor/outdoor pool. They love to watch little LEAP-ers building towers and having fun with blocks—especially the brightly colored ones! River otters can survive in rivers, of course, but can also be found in lakes and swamps and feel just as at home on land as they do in the water. Their smooth, water-resistant fur, webbed feet, and long, narrow bodies make them excellent swimmers.  A trip to the Children’s Zoo isn’t complete without a stop by to say “Hi!” to Odie and Emma!

Red Wolf

When you first arrive at LEAP, you walk right past the outdoor Red Wolf exhibit. You probably notice that it’s full of trees, tall grasses, and large rocks, making it tough to spot the wolves. This exhibit was designed to make them tricky to see, as Lincoln Park Zoo participated for many years in a red wolf reintroduction program, releasing young wolf pups into the wild to grow and thrive. In order to manage a successful reintroduction, the wolves shouldn’t be used to seeing people, so this exhibit is perfect for hiding away from the public eye. This is a great place to practice your observation skills--stay quiet and look closely to catch a glimpse of Rhett, Becca, and their four pups!

Eastern Screech Owls

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Right inside the front doors of Children’s Zoo live some curious creatures called Eastern Screech Owls. Owls are birds of prey, meaning that they like to dine on insects, mice, lizards, and smaller birds more than they like berries and seeds. Barnabas and Bixby, the owls here at LPZ, like to keep a close eye on visitors, so make sure you go check them out to see if they’re looking at you, too!


Reptiles, Amphibians and Insects!

Smooth green snakes, American bullfrogs, newts, green tree frogs, box turtles, and even walking sticks all reside at eye level for your little LEAPer. These animals all have special features of their own, from the smooth green snakes’ uncanny ability to camouflage to the tree frogs’ amazing climbing skills. Sometimes you may look in an exhibit and think there isn’t anything there, but keep looking and you just might discover a creature hiding quietly beneath the surface. 


American Beavers

As you venture to the far end of the building, you may get lucky enough to see our American beaver brothers going for an early morning swim or nibbling on a branch. Beavers are amazing builders, damming up rivers and streams in the wild and building impressive lodges that keep their families safe and warm during hard North American winters.  The beavers at the zoo share their exhibit with mallards and wood ducks, co-existing peacefully, just as they do in the wild.

American Black Bears

Outside, near the Wild Sapling Play Forest, two American black bears share a spacious forested home. Katai and Birch are omnivores and can often be seen napping in front of the glass, cuddled up in a warm log, cooling off in the stream, or enjoying some delicious honey enrichment. It's true, black bears really do love honey!  Do your best bear impression and curl up in the log at the far end of the exhibit, it's the best seat in the house! 

We hope you enjoy getting to know these animal friends. As always, we’re happy to chat and share more, just ask!