Lincoln Park Zoo starts construction on new lion habitat

Lincoln Park Zoo has started construction on the new lion habitat, called the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, following a $15 million gift from Richard and Roxelyn Pepper. This is part of the $135m capital campaign, the Pride of Chicago.

The $40 million renovation of the Kovler Lion House building is the final phase of the Pride of Chicago, a $135 million capital campaign that started in 2012.

The lion house will be at the heart of the Pepper Family Wildlife Center experience, which will include a large habitat for lions, as well as a community space.

Lincoln Park Zoo expects the project to take approximately two years to complete, including updates to the interior and exterior of the building, and the new lion habitat.

$40 million renovation of lion house and habitat

At Pepper Family Wildlife Center, the lion habitat will span the full northern side of the building. It will feature rocks for the lions, heating and cooling elements, tree structures, and a food zip line.

“This renovation requires more care and investment than other capital projects because the building is designated a historical landmark,” said president and CEO Kevin Bell.

“When it’s complete, we’ll have a new world-class habitat for a pride of lions, and welcome the majestic species back to Chicago as soon as possible.”

In order to design the new lion habitat, Lincoln Park Zoo collected data on lion behaviour, space use and preference.

Expansion was designed by lions, for lions

lincoln park zoo lion house

“In essence, the lions themselves helped design their new habitat,” said vice president of animal care and horticulture Maureen Leahy.

“Our welfare scientists used ZooMonitor to collect data to help design and build a scientifically-informed habitat with animal care and welfare at the forefront.”

Visitors will get immersive viewing opportunities from inside and outside the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, including a unique indoor design element in the centre of the habitat.

Images: Lincoln Park Zoo