Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago has announced a $15 million commitment from Richard and Roxelyn Pepper to help fund construction of a new wildlife center.
The gift will be used to update the zoo's existing Lion House, including the creation of an outdoor lion habitat featuring rock outcroppings where lions can jump and climb, tree structures and deadfall made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified trees, a feeding zip line that simulates moving prey, improved holding spaces designed to facilitate breeding, and a demonstration training wall where guests can view lions up close and learn how they can help save the species in the wild. The $40 million center also will include outdoor habitats for other species and an indoor community space designed to foster visitors' connection to wildlife and the environment.
Expected to be completed within an 18- to 22-month time frame, the renovation of Lion House represents the final phase of the zoo's $135 million capital campaign, which includes construction of macaque, polar bear, and penguin exhibits, as well as a new visitor center.
Richard Pepper is past chair and president of Pepper Construction, which won the contract for the new wildlife center and previously built the Regenstein Macaque Forest, Robert & Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove, the Walter Family Arctic Tundra, the Nature Boardwalk and Regenstein Center for African Apes, and the Flamingo and Lion House south habitats.
"We see the gift as an opportunity to give back to the city that’s given so much to us with its natural, cultural, and business landscapes," Pepper said in a statement. "We want to build a legacy that ensures its historic institutions are sustained while modernizing with the times."