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Pachy' Pro Does the Zoos of Illinois

Discussion in 'United States' started by pachyderm pro, 7 May 2018.

  1. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    When one thinks of Illinois zoos, they think of the truly big ones. Brookfield, a massive 216 acre facility with over 450 species in mostly good to great exhibitry. Lincon Park, a much smaller free zoo right off the shores of Lake Michicgan, still represents over 200 species in great exhibits. It's also the third most visited zoo in the US only beaten by DAK and Bush Gardens. And Shedd Aquarium, a massive historic building with over fifteen hundred species in exhibitry that is near unanimously agreed to be superb all around, making for what can be argued to be the best aquarium in the US. However, I'm not going to be talking about these zoos in this thread. They have already been covered in immense detail on this site. Instead what many don't realize is that there are a bakers dozen other Illinois zoos that get largely ignored as they are much smaller in size and collection. However, the point of this thread is for me to venture off and find these hidden zoos. I will be giving brief reviews and dozens of photos to cover these establishments. My journey began last week with a trio of zoos to start me off.

    Cosley Zoo, Wheaton Il - Date of Visit: 4.29.18

    Cosley zoo is a mere 5 acres in size making it the smallest zoo in the state of Illinois. However what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. The Cosley zoo has a great atmosphere and only has three major exhibit areas. The first is the waterfowl ponds containing native ducks in a pair of exhibits. The duck pond pavilion used for events such as parties or gatherings, overlooks the largest of the ponds. Next to the ponds is the discovery barn. The barn is your typical domestic farm animal affair, featuring ponies, goats, sheep, pigs and llamas in simple paddocks around the building, with indoor stables. There Is also a smaller barn which contains rabbits and a chicken coop with daily feedings. Then the largest and best section of the zoo, Wilds of Illinois. Highlights of this area include an excellent white tailed deer, turkey vulture and sandhill crane mixed species habitat, which is the largest in the zoo. There is also a trio of predator habitats around a boardwalk which contain a coyote, a raccoon and a pair of red foxes. However, the zoos newest and perhaps most impressive is the bobcat enclosure. Opened in 2012, the exhibit is adjacent to the deer/crane/vulture yard and is large meshed over exhibit for two bobcats. There is a mix of rock and grass with large logs for climbing. An excellent addition to this community zoo. The final animal habitats in the zoo are for the bird collection. There are five birds of prey cages that are adjacent to one another and contain a great horned owl, barred owl, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel and eastern screech owl. There is also a row of aviaries for species which I did not ID.

    Overall, Cosley zoo is a lovely little place to spend an hour of your time. There is a friendly atmosphere, lovely surroundings, very solid animal habitats and overall is a great zoo to start this trek through the lesser known zoos of Illinois. And the future looks bright. Wilds of Illinois will be adding new predator habitats for species such as black bears and cougars, the new rivers exhibit will feature otters and beavers, a new ecodome will be very impressive, and new nocturnal exhibits will be added as well. Highly recommend this facility if you are in the area and I hope to return one day to this hidden gem of a zoo.

    Up Next: Phillips Park Zoo
     
  2. ZooBinh

    ZooBinh Well-Known Member

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    home. you should be there
    Is admission cheap?
     
  3. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    Phillips Park Zoo, Aurora Il - Date of Visit: 4.29.18

    After finishing up with Cosley, I drove 35 minutes south to this 103 year old zoo. The dead cat in the middle of the road about a block from the zoo really set the tone for what can easily be described as a mediocre zoo. Phillips park zoo is located in the namesake Phipps Park. The zoo is thankfully free, but that does not make this disappointing facility any better. It feels like a menagerie with no real rhyme or reason. It seems things are placed out in an unorganized way, with no cohesive zones or charm. The animals that sit among the chaos include otters, a mountain lion, peafowl, multiple birds of prey, a turkey and a single goat. These exhibits range from decent (Mountain lion) to abysmal (Owl cage). There is also a trio of macaw cages that were thankfully empty, because I've seen many pet stores provide a better accommodation for birds like this. Then there is the reptile house, what the zoo shows to be one of their star attractions. Your blasted with humidity as soon as you walk in, and are greeted by dozens of species in mediocre terrariums and pools. Large pythons, an iguana, many turtles and lizards round out this strange building. Seeing gopher tortoises in concrete bath tubs also wasn't the most thrilling way to view the species. However, the American alligators have it worst, as they are confined to a pair of concrete slabs surrounded by a shallow pool. Awful exhibit in a strange building in a mediocre zoo. Somehow, despite the rest of the zoo being awful, there are two stand out enclosures that save the place from the "awful" category. A 1.5 acre wolf exhibit and 2 acre elk yard (Half of which is taken up by a massive pond) perk things up a bit, though sadly not by much as the rest of the zoo is a haphazardly placed mess of mediocre animal enclosures. This free zoo is not worth the trouble and I have no intention to ever return. I needed one more "zoo" for the day before I was done...

    Up Next: Willowbrook Wildlife Center
     
  4. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    Only $7 for adults and children are free. Cheap if you ask me.
     
  5. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Glen Ellyn Il - Date of Visit: 4.29.18

    Before my visit this establishment had no photos or reviews on this site, as it is relatively unheard of and in all honesty, until last week I had no clue about this place either. I am very glad I went however, as it is a tiny but enjoyable animal rehabilitation center. This free facility is lovely and I had a nice visit that more than made up for the mediocre Philips Park zoo. The indoor section is comprised of native birds such as doves, robins and blue jays and many turtle tanks. There are many small displays that contain these animals along with the occasional snake or frog. The highlight of the indoor portion of the center in the squirrel hospital. There were about a half a dozen young gray squirrels being fed after being taken out of their glass cages. There was also a darkened enclosure for flying squirrels featured.

    The outdoor portion of the center is a single loop through a series of smaller cages for native animals. Species contained include seagulls, groundhogs, red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, raccoons, barn owl, bobcat (Two cages connected), red fox, eastern screech owl and a turkey vulture (Which included a small indoor viewing area). There was also a small garden with a nature stage and a koi pond. However, perhaps the premiere animal enclosure at Willowbrook was the massive bald eagle aviary, It was sadly empty during my visit, but was massive in size and would not look out of place in any major American zoo. Willowbrook Wildlife center is another hidden gem of a facility and I would certainly recommend it to anyone in the area.

    Up Next: Summerfield Zoo
     
    MeiLover and sooty mangabey like this.
  6. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    Summerfield Zoo, Belvidere Il - Date of Visit: 5.6.18

    Summerfield is the northern most zoo in Illinois, and when I say it's a rural zoo, I mean it's the most rural out of the way zoo I have ever seen. Getting to the zoo involves having to pass dozens of cattle fields, large barns and massive open field of nothingness until arriving at this facility. It feels more like an exotic animal farm than a zoo, but was still enjoyable none the less. The zoo was devastated by a tornado in 2015, but has rebuilt much of the place sense that unfortunate event. It is a zoo that contains a surprisingly impressive collection for it's incredibly rural location and small size. The main barn contains many small mammals. A kinkajou, cotton-top tamarins, pygmy marmosets, a large-spotted genet, prairie dogs,and rabbits as well as peafowl have all indoor exhibits that are of merely decent quality. There is also larger indoor and outdoor enclosures for coatimundi, ring-tailed lemurs, emus, wallabies, goats, a single vervet monkey, servals, bobcat and a Canadian lynx. The monkey was a surprise considering that vervets aren't exactly common anywhere in the US. The enclosures aren't bad, but they aren't quite great either and everything is very homemade looking, as is the rest of the zoo. There is an excellent bird garden with a large pond, a small turtle pool and additional goat petting pen connected to the main barn as well. There is also the brand new baby animal nursery which just opened this year. The only inhabitant currently is a single 6 week old groundhog, though babies will be added throughout the year. There are also several bird cages around the grounds, for macaws, cockatoos, kookaburras and doves that are of average quality. There are also many paddocks dedicated to reindeer, one of the zoos most advertised species. Other pens are present for zebras, horses, donkeys, llamas and a mixed species camel and ostrich yard.

    Another barn in the zoo contains many horses and mother and fawn reindeer pairs. The stables are about a simple as they come but I feel are too small. However, the all indoor red kangaroo and crested porcupine stalls are the worst, as I believe these animals have no access to the outside beyond there small stables. Hopefully I'm wrong and they just rotate with other animals, but I doubt that really. Next to this barn is a small dusty pony ride circle, which is next to an average cougar exhibit. It's biggest flaws are the lack of climbing structures in the enclosure. One of favorite exhibits at the zoo however, was the above average otter exhibit. Two playful river otters ran around the grassy space and dove in the pool. It was a joy to watch. And unlike most other exhibits at this zoo, this exhibit had glass viewing windows which made for a much better viewing experience than many of the other pens and paddocks around the grounds. The final two exhibits were the predator yards. Artic wolves had a single, very cramped cage right by the entrance. This cage is below average and is smaller than the average backyard. Perhaps the weakest enclosure in the zoo, but that will soon change quickly.

    The final exhibit in the zoo, the only two hyenas in the state of Illinois. Who would have thought this small rural zoo in Northern Illinois would have this surprise? A pair of spotted hyenas put on quite the show running and playing around the yard making for the most active hyenas I have ever seen in my life. The yard itself is solid. It's smallish, but grassy with trees and a small shelter. The chainlink is off putting though as it was a pain to try and get a good photo of the specimens. Either way, active animals plus decent exhibit means good for me. The final activity at the zoo I attended was the animal show. Honestly it was kind of lame. There were 6 animals, the previously mentioned baby groundhog, and umbrella cockatoo, a bearded dragon, a blue-tonged skink, an African pygmy hedgehog and a Mexican black king snake. The presentation was made up of the speaker throwing out some facts about the animal, than passing it to a volunteer to take around and let the on lookers pet. That meant about half the show consisted of nothing happening, and the animal was being passed around to the public to pet.

    Summerfield zoo is a strange, unheard of facility hidden away from the rest of the area. However, if you in the area I advise you to check it out. It's an interesting collection of animals, in homemade but still good (for the most part) exhibits. The current projects the zoo is fundraising for a new arctic wolf enclosure (something greatly needed) and an outdoor peafowl enclosure. I hope to revisit this interesting tiny zoo again one day.

    Up Next: Miller Park Zoo
     
  7. m30t

    m30t Well-Known Member

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    I love the concept of this and have enjoyed the reviews so far, I look forward to the rest.

    This should put you in the lead for number of zoos visited in Illinois as well!
     
  8. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Are you planning to visit every Illinois zoo?
     
  9. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    My current tally is at 8 (Brookfield, Lincoln Park, Shedd, Cosley, Phipps Park, Willobrook, Summerfield and Serpent Safari (Now closed)). So not quite as @snowleopard beats me with 11 Illinois zoos under the belt.
    That's the goal, though if there is one I wouldn't count on visiting it would be Henson Robinson .
     
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  10. Yi Qi

    Yi Qi Well-Known Member

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    I've been to Brookfield, Lincoln Park, and Shedd, and I really want to visit it this summer.
     
  11. The Speeding Carnotaurus

    The Speeding Carnotaurus Well-Known Member

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    I’m at a wimpy 4: Brookfield, Shedd, Lincoln Park, and Miller Park