Sahar, Kamali and Zalika — Lincoln Park Zoo’s three lions — are moving to a zoo in Kansas in the coming weeks. While they’re gone, Lincoln Park Zoo plans to construct a reimagined habitat designed for the lions.
The zoo recently released its plans for the $35 million renovation, which incorporate the century-old Kovler Lion House building. In a statement, the zoo said it’s been tracking the lions’ use of their current habitat for years using an app called ZooMonitor.
Mike Murray, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said the app showed how much the lions enjoy vertical space.
“People think about their own cats at home, and I think when they think about that, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, cats like to be up high,’” said Murray.
Murray said the new design for the habitat includes multiple levels for the lions to explore. He also said the habitat will include a zipline, to which keepers can attach food or toys.
“These lions are incredible hunters,” said Murray. “This will give them kind of the resemblance of a moving prey.”
And instead of a moat separating visitors from the lions, like in the current habitat, Murray said there will just be a large pane of glass.
“There will be a lot more nose-to-nose viewing,” said Murray.
The zoo plans to start construction by this fall; no end date is set. When lions are brought back to Lincoln Park Zoo, there’s no guarantee it will be the same lions that are about to leave.
Lauren Frost covers news for WBEZ. Follow her @frostlaur.