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Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is getting a new $9 million visitor center

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The upcoming welcome complex will replace the Zoo’s eastern gateway pavilion

Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo has outgrown its existing “gateway pavilion.” Under the plan, the 1994 structure would be demolished.
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The more than 3.5 million annual visitors to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo will soon be greeted by a new welcome center proposed for the free attraction’s eastern entranceway. Replacing the small, silo-like “gateway pavilion” that was built in 1994, the upcoming project will feature a pair of new buildings containing guest and member services, stroller rentals, interactive displays, a shaded rest area, and new bathrooms.

The zoo's senior vice president of capital and programmatic planning Steven Thompson tells DNAinfo’s Ted Cox that the new visitors center will be "a place to go for help" but will also be more welcoming and efficiently designed than the structure it replaces. The upgrade is part of larger $125 million capital campaign launched by Lincoln Park Zoo a few years back. It includes a new penguin house, polar bear enclosure, macaque exhibit, and learning center.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the zoo managed to raise more than $1.4 million of the new visitor center’s expected $9 million price tag at a July 14th black-tie gala. Though the plan still needs final city approval, zoo officials hope to begin construction on the new buildings by the end of this year.

Lincoln Park Zoo