Lincoln Park Zoo breaks ground on lion house renovation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The lion house at Lincoln Park Zoo is about to get a major transformation.

The zoo has broken ground on a project to update the building and also create an expansive new habitat for lions.

The new space will be named for the Pepper family, who donated $15 million for the project.

"This generous donation from Richard and Roxelyn Pepper begins an exciting transformation at the heart of the zoo," said Biff Bowman, Chairman of the Lincoln Park Zoo Board of Trustees. "The commitment to the zoo shown by not only the Peppers, but also by the zoo's Women's & Auxiliary Boards and my fellow trustees-especially Barbara Malott Kizziah, our campaign chair who has been instrumental in securing other critical gifts and activating our philanthropic community-helps us secure a sustainable future for one of Chicago's most historic institutions."

The construction will include updates to the interior and exterior of the building and create a new expansive habitat for the lions. The zoo says that guests will have nose-to-nose viewing opportunities inside and outside the new facility and will have viewing of the exhibit from the center of the habitat.

"With the training wall open to the lions' indoor area, we'll be able to open up behind-the-scenes care and husbandry into a space where the public can view it," said Vice President of Animal Care & Horticulture Maureen Leahy. "It's important to us to be as transparent as possible with how we care for these beautiful animals."

The lion house was last renovated in 1985. The building's re-opening date has not yet been determined.
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