Three outdoor family activities for Memorial Day Weekend

 

Chicago skyline. (J Jacobs photo)
Old photo of Chicago skyline. (J Jacobs photo))

Chicago’s warm (finally) weather this Memorial Day weekend is perfect for a day laughing at monkeyshines at two zoos or a pirate-ship sail along the city’s shoreline. (Zoo note: both zoos require masks at their indoor animal houses).

 

Sorgum and baby calf at Brookfield Zoo. ( Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)
Sorghum and baby calf at Brookfield Zoo. ( Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)

Brookfield Zoo

Visiting the 235 acre Brookfield Zoo can be an all-day family event.

Starting May 26, visitors can see the cute tapir calf just born to his mom, Sorghum. He has been staying indoors at the Pachyderm House but mom and baby might wander to their outdoor space on the north side of the building because the weather will be warm. Now is a good time to see the calf with his white stripes. The marking fade by age six months. The South American tapir is related to the horse and rhinoceros.

Beginning May 28, the Butterflies area, closed the past two years, has reopened and includes moths. Located near the North Gate, entry is $4 adults, $3.50 seniors 65 and older and $3 children. Visitors will be able to see the transformation to butterflies in an off-exhibit space.

Monarch butterfly at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Schulz and CZS)
Monarch butterfly at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Schulz and CZS)

While wandering the zoo, be on the lookout for such ice-age creatures as a 15 ft tall wooly mammoth and the 18 ft long mastodon. They are among Dino Dan’s 30  life-sized animatonic animals staying at the zoo April 1 through Oct. 30, 2022.

Brookfield Zoo entrances are at North Parking Lot 8400 31st St, and South Parking Lot 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways. Current hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

There are admission and parking costs. Tickets can be purchased ahead on line and are good for the entire day of entry. Adults $24.95, Seniors 65 and older $19.95, Children age 3-11 $17.95, age 2 and younger free. Parking is $15 and can be paid upon arrival.

*Visitors who have a general admission pass with a barcode, a member guest pass, a Chicago Public Library Museum Pass or a Museum Adventure Pass, can bring that to the zoo for entry, no reservation required.

For tickets and more information visit Chicago Zoological Society and CZS-Brookfield Zoo.

 

The Patio at Cafe Brauer may be a well-kept secret of where to lunch along a quiet Lincoln Park Zoo path and entrance. ( J Jacobs photo)ell
The Patio at Cafe Brauer may be a well-kept secret of where to lunch along a quiet Lincoln Park Zoo path and entrance. ( J Jacobs photo)ell

Lincoln Park Zoo

At 49 acres, Lincoln Park Zoo is doable in half a day. Get a zoo map at the Visitor Center near the main entrance at 2400 N. Cannon Dr.

Time the visit to watch Seal Training at 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. near the main entrance . Then, be sure to visit the Pepper Family Wildlife Center.to see Pilipili, a recently born, African lion cub. His name means “pepper” in Swahili.

Lion cub at Lincoln Park Zoo (photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)
Lion cub at Lincoln Park Zoo
(photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park Zoo is north of Chicago’s Magnificent (shopping) Mile.There are are several entrances with East gate near the paid parking lot being the main one. View the free parking map for all entrances. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The zoo is free and opened every day. For more information visit Lincoln Park Zoo.

 

On a Tall Ship sail from Navy Pier. ( J Jacobs photo)
On a Tall Ship sail from Navy Pier. ( J Jacobs photo)

Sail on  Tall Ship Windy

For a different sailing experience, take a 75 minute trip along Chicago’s shoreline on Windy, a Tall Ship docked at Navy Pier. Listen to pirate and maritime stories.

Cost is Adults (age 13 and older) $39, children age 3 to 12 $17. For more information visit Chicago Skyline Sail/Tall Ship Windy Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Chicago zoos sparkle for the holidays

 

Brookfield Zoo Tunnel of Light sponsored by Xfinity. (Chicago Zoological Society photo)
Brookfield Zoo Tunnel of Light sponsored by Xfinity. (Chicago Zoological Society photo)

Both Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos have upped the sparkle wattage with new light experiences. But with LED lights keeping cost down and ComEd on board as a co-sponsor for both holiday shows, what the popular destinations mention are estimates. Just expect more than one million lights.

In suburban Brookfield, IL wander among twinkling lights at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic co-sponsored with ComEd by meijer.

The festival includes a new, two-mile Sea of Lights. But also take photos at a 41-foot-high magical tree and by an illuminated animal sculpture or as you approach the 600-foot Tunnel of Lights.

Just for fun, join in the Game of Gnomes to find 27 of these creatures at the zoo. Get a map of the zoo to help. All ages can play.

Zoo entry cost varies according to membership and age. As an example, rounded-off by five cents, a non-member senior 65 + may be about $20, an adult aged 12-64 is about $25 and a child age 3-11 is about $18.  Skating rink usage is a $7 add on. Passes from a Chicago Library may discount the tickets. Parking may cost $15.  Advance tickets needed.

Holiday Magic hours and dates: Friday through Sunday Nov. 26-28. Then Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 8-12 and Dec.15-19. They end Sunday through Friday. Dec. 26-31. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Animal residences stay open through 8:30 p.m.

Brookfield Zoo has two gates: 8400 31st St. and 3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield, IL

For more information Read more on czs.org

 

Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo feature an Enchanted Forest and a Light Maze in 2021. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)
Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo feature an Enchanted Forest and a Light Maze in 2021. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Zooights turned on its more than a million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo Nov. 19, 2021 and will keep them on during select nights through Jan. 2, 2022.

Explore a twisting path at the Light Maze where you wear a pair of 3D Holospex® glasses to up the glow. Also, every age is welcome at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo section’s Enchanted Forest of butterflies, flowers and mushrooms.

See the zoo’s holiday tree at the recently redone Pepper Family Wildlife Center and do the Endangered Species Carousel and the Lionel Train Adventure through a sculpture garden and past whimsical animals.

Zoolioght entry is $5, free on Monday and Tuesday but there are additional charges of $3 per person at some of the sections and experiences. Advance tickets needed. Check the calendar for more program information.

The basic fee and extra charges help support the zoo’s animal care, global conservation efforts, and learning programs.

Co-sponsored by ComEd and Invesco QQQ, see Winter Wonders at the Zoo – Lincoln Park Zoo (lpzoo.org) for more information.

Jodie Jacobs

Up close at Lincoln Park Zoo Lion House

 

At Lincoln Park Zoo a lion looks over its shoulder at some members of the Chicago Uptown Lions Club (L.R. Mark Kotz, Sharon Howerton, Suzy Travers-Byster, Julie Lovison, Bob Solomon, Albert Anderson)
At Lincoln Park Zoo a lion looks over its shoulder at some members of the Chicago Uptown Lions Club (L.R. Mark Kotz, Sharon Howerton, Suzy Travers-Byster, Julie Lovison, Bob Solomon, Albert Anderson)

Thanks to a $15 million gift from Roxelyn and the late Richard Pepper, Lincoln Park Zoo broke ground on a $41 million renovation of their lion house in December 2019.

After being closed for about 2 years, the new Lion House opened in October 2021 and is home to a pride of lions that includes one male and four females. Rumor has it that locally born offspring may result.

The state-of-the-art habitat has been renamed the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, home not just to lions but also Canada lynx, snow leopards and red pandas.

Fans of the old Lion House will be happy to see the renovation was achieved to preserve and enhance the architecturally significant features of the historic structure built in 1912.

The dramatic entrances on either side bring a flood of natural light into the interior and the beautiful vintage vaulted ceiling has never looked better.

Small cages and cells with their archaic painted backgrounds are gone, replaced inside and out with expansive viewing windows for close-ups of the big cats.

Pepper Family Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo
Pepper Family Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo

The habitat has nearly doubled, now providing the lions with a variety of choices  from plenty of outside fresh air and thermal comfort zones to  trees for climbing, and elevated rocks to give them high vantage points plus areas to seek privacy, shade, and shelter.

A unique indoor design element known as the Lion Loop, funded by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo, enables guests to view the pride even more intimately from the center of the habitat.

The $41 million renovation of the building is the final phase of what has been dubbed The Pride of Chicago, a $135 million capital campaign that began in 2012.

It was my good fortune to tag along with the Chicago Uptown Lions Club on a special tour conducted by Bill Green, accessibility and inclusion manager for the zoo.

About seventy-five percent of the Uptown Lion members are visually impaired. Thanks to a grant by the Hart Prinze Fund, special accommodations have been made to allow those with special needs to enjoy the experience.

Albert Anderson, Sharon Howerton and Bill Green at the newly re done Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo (Reno Lovison photo}
Albert Anderson, Sharon Howerton and Bill Green at the newly re done Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo (Reno Lovison photo}

Green outfitted our small group with wireless earpieces that allowed us to easily hear his commentary as we toured the Lion habitat inside and out while he creatively and thoroughly explained what was being shown so that those unable to see would understand what the rest of us were experiencing visually.

On several occasions there were tactile displays that allowed both the sighted and unsighted members of our group to feel the size of a lion paw, the impression of their print, the feeling of their fur or the rough texture of their tongues.

Inside the building Green produced a special three dimensional map of the African savannah that the visually impaired could run their fingers over to get a sense of the various distances a lion might travel and kinds of terrain they may encounter in their journey.

All-in-all the Pepper Family Wildlife Center and its inhabitants are indeed destined to be the Pride of Chicago and should definitely be on your things to do calendar in the Windy City.

If you haven’t been to the zoo lately you might like to know that there are a number of restaurants and cafés on the grounds and several more within a short walk.

The Lincoln Park Zoo can be approached by car at Fullerton and Cannon Drive just west of Lake Shore Drive. Parking is available and might be considered pricey by some but admission to the zoo is free. If you’re a little more adventurous street parking is available along Clark Street on the west side of the park and there are bus routes that include the zoo entrance.

For more information about the zoo visit lpzoo.org. For more information about the Chicago Uptown Lions Club email info@chicagouptownlionsclub.org.

Reno Lovison