As a tourist coming from outside of Illinois the most common idea of sight seeing is the main Chicago sights: Willis Tower, Hancock building, Magnificent Mile, the Lakefront, etc. The last thing that one thinks about is going to see something that you can do back home, like going to the Zoo.
Every city has their own unique Zoo, where the residents are able to escape reality and spend some time with our furry friends from all over the world. Over the 4th of July holiday I spent the day at the Lincoln park Zoo. After living in the city of Chicago for the last 6 years I thought that it might be about time that I visit this magical place. I don’t know about most of you, but I turn into a 5 year old when I get past the gate. I literally drug my boyfriend around the park going “ooohhhh and awwweeee”. It was a very hot day, I recommend that when you visit you try to go around September. Or if you do decide to venture during our hot Chicago summers, take a lot of water!!
I have to say that my first Zoo experience at the Lincoln Park Zoo was great! We took the red line up to the Zoo as parking is generally a little pricy for my taste. For those of you staying with us at the Hampton Inn & Suites, it is so easy to get there, just take the Red Line at the Grand Stop headed North and get off at Fullerton. Then walk east until you reach the Zoo. Very accessible and easy route from the downtown location. When you get there, no need to take out your wallet as the Zoo is completely free!!! Not a bad deal, huh? But of course they always accept donations, so feel free to give a little back as it goes toward making the Zoo a better home for the animals. They are just too cute to refuse! So…my first stop was the Pygmy hippopotamus. He was such a cute little guy, check out my photo:
He was so excited to see us there, that he kept trying to push his way through the glass. He would swim up and down trying to find a way out. But aside from his cuteness, I did find out some information about this type of Hippo. It seems that due to habitat loss, the Pygmy Hippo is endangered. This particular species is solitary and a nocturnal mammal. The population has dwindled and we don’t know the exact numbers, but from the information provided by the Zoo, scientists estimate that 3,000 of the animals may live in the wild. At this time, The Lincoln Park Zoo cooperatively manages Pygmy Hippopotamus populations with other institutions in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Some cool facts about this species that I was able to find out, courtesy of the Zoo webpage: Special Adaptations
- The pygmy hippo’s skin secretes a red substance, giving rise to the legend that the species “sweats blood.” The substance isn’t blood, but its function is unknown. Scientists believe it may serve as an antibiotic or help block excessive sunlight.
- The eyes, ears and nose are located on the top of the head, enabling the species to see, smell and hear while the rest of its body is underwater.
- The pygmy hippos’ ears and nostrils pinch tightly shut when the animal dives underwater, making it easier for them to stay submerged.
You don’t have to be so excited about the animals to go to the Zoo, just enjoy the nice walk and the fact that you get a chance to explore a different side of the city. It is a nice break from being around so many people when walking down the Magnificent Mile or when seeing the amazing sites the Willis Tower has to offer. Check out the Zoo next time you are in Chicago, you won’t be disappointed!!