Review of the Lincoln Park Zoo (Manitowoc) Manitowoc, WI - Official Website - Lincoln Park Zoo This small, free zoo is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and began in 1935. After a fishpond was closed down by the city council in nearby Washington Park, it was decided that a zoo open in Lincoln Park as a compromise. The Zoo’s first animal was an elk acquired in 1939. Years later, the Zoological Society soon had to make a decision on whether to upgrade or close the Zoo in the 1980’s. It was decided in 1990 to begin fundraising to improve the Zoo, starting with foundation renovations in 1991. Lincoln Park current stands with almost 200 animals on 20 acres. I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this zoo, as it’s not AZA-accredited and it very rarely gets mentioned. I mainly paid a visit because it was on the way home to Milwaukee. But, after my hour and twenty minute visit, I left pleasantly surprised. There isn’t anything fantastic to be seen here (with one exception to be mentioned), but there are many decent areas throughout, and it serves the community well with what it has. Prairie Dog Exhibit – This is the exhibit that most people come across first when entering the Zoo. It is a circular pit exhibit covered by a shade structure, with plenty of dirt to dig and burrow in – a basic exhibit for prairie dogs. Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible either. Predators – Upon entering the Zoo, a steep timber wolf exhibit can be seen to one’s left. The viewing opportunities are not great as visitors can only view the canines through chain-link, on an incline, or up/down the hill. Having said that, the wolves have a pretty nice home that is heavily vegetated, and the hill does allow for various opportunities for enrichment and staying active. At the right of the entrance, one goes down a trail passing two feline habitats, which were renovated in 2014, and an exhibit for a single Asian black bear. The first exhibit is for a Canadian lynx, and it is grassy with a few rocky areas and wooden beams to serve as climbing opportunities. It is about average in size and quality for lynx, but quite small for the snow leopard (died in 2015 ) that originally lived there. Next-door is a cougar exhibit, which is on the small side both in size and height for its inhabitants. It has a similar design to the lynx enclosure except on one side of the black metal fencing, there is a log with glass viewing so visitors can crawl in to get a closer look at the felines – I couldn’t resist! Finally, the bear has a decent-sized grassy enclosure with a small climbing frame on one end. Something else worth noting is a very unique education area across from the cougar habitat. It consists of a large pole marking and explaining some of the various levels animals can jump – with, of course, an emphasis on the cougars and snow leopards. It’s a pretty creative set-up that I don’t recall seeing in any other zoo. Birds – Near the bear is a trio of birds of prey aviaries. In my opinion, these are the highlight of the Zoo in terms of exhibit quality. They all are very lush, tall, have several areas for perching, hilly terrain, and even some live trees. Species here include: bald eagle, red-tailed hawk (didn’t see), and a mixed-species habitat for turkey vulture and great horned owl. Down the path, past the Fish Rearing Pond, is another trio of bird exhibits – this time dedicated to pheasants. Two exhibits are home to silver pheasants, and another with red golden pheasants. These enclosures are rather small and barren, with sandy floors and not much detail. Fish Rearing Pond – Between the pheasant and birds of prey areas is a long, covered pool that is used for salmon conservation purposes. The only thing visitors can see are a few interesting signs regarding the lives of salmon and how the facility runs on money received from some Great Lakes companies. Hoofstock Area – Connected to a huge brown barn are a few hoofstock paddocks. First, there is a small paddock for pygmy goats with a wood bridge for climbing opportunities. Next-door is a huge, good enclosure with a running stream, a rock formation, and lush grass. The sign indicates Dall sheep live here, however I saw a single goat, a pair of turkeys, and many geese and ducks. This is followed by a nice, roomy habitat for a pair of American bison, part of which is on an incline. Across the path is a solid, marsh-like sandhill crane habitat. There is also a very long exhibit with very tall grass that originally held white-tailed deer. But, they have moved to a new enclosure (which is still under construction) on the long hike between the Education Center and Big Red Barn areas. Considering there used to be no animals on this stretch, this is a smart move. Education Center & Animal Care Building – A building that opened in 1997. An exhibit room for visitors is located on the second floor, and consists of a herpetarium/invertebrate house/museum mix. The museum section is fascinating with a Lake Michigan display, a few real-life wasp nests, and more. The exhibit section overall is hit-and-miss, ranging from a neat honey beehive, to some basic terrariums, to a cramped room for African spurred tortoise. Exhibit list is: African spurred tortoise; mourning dove/cedar waxwing; Madagascar hissing cockroaches; bearded dragon/Russian tortoise (the tortoise being a first for me); honeybee; American toad/green frog/leopard frog/eastern tiger salamander/; green anole/wood frog/gray tree frog/green tree frog; bull snake; leopard gecko; box turtle; ball python; Chilean rose tarantula; and a Wisconsin native fish tank that is being renovated. NOTE – I missed the Big Red Barn by fifteen minutes, as that area closes at 5pm, even though the Zoo itself doesn’t close until 7pm during the summer. HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: The best part of my visit was watching the two cougars on display. They were quite active, constantly prowling the perimeter of the exhibit, stalking and pouncing on each other, and chasing one another around the exhibit. What was very cool was hearing the cats vocalize for the first time ever; I heard mewing sounds, and even low growls as the two pounced and tussled with each other. Overall: Despite its size and not being accredited by the AZA, I actually had a fairly enjoyable time at little Lincoln Park Zoo. It doesn’t compete with the larger zoos or some smaller zoos, but I think it’s a cute little zoo. It has one great area (birds of prey aviaries), many sections that range from solid to average, and only some exhibits that are disappointing. Much like Alameda Park Zoo, this definitely isn’t a zoo worth driving out of one’s way to see. But, if one is driving through Manitowoc (a nice, pretty town by the way) and needs to burn some energy, this is a nice stop to spend about an hour. I would put Lincoln Park Zoo (Manitowoc) at the #20 spot – between Gatorland (#19) and Alameda Park Zoo (#21).