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Book Closed on the LP Zoo's Troubles?

By Matt Wood in Miscellaneous on Aug 9, 2006 2:22PM

Can the Lincoln Park Zoo finally catch a break? The last two years haven't been kind to the zoo, despite the opening of the fantastic new Regenstein Center for Apes and the African Journey habitat. Three of the zoo's elephants died, ultimately causing them to give up trying to keep the pachyderms in Chicago. Two gorillas and a camel also died, then another small monkey had to have an arm amputated after an accident. These incidents, especially the elephant deaths, led to widespread criticism from animal rights groups. Then if that weren't bad enough, three langur monkeys died in May 2005 after eating leaves from a yew tree that shouldn't have been near their habitat in the first place, and then a gorilla bit a zookeeper the following July.

chicagoist_2006_08_aceventu.jpgThe U.S. Department of Agriculture launched investigations into all of this monkey business. Its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (we're picturing Ace Ventura here, maybe with worse hair) found that the zoo was only negligent in the deaths of the langur monkeys and the gorilla attack. Zoo officials still contend that the gorilla attack was the result of an employee error, but they promptly paid the USDA's $3,000 fine for not having proper barriers in the monkey or gorilla habitats.

The USDA has closed the investigations, but we can't help but think that the place is cursed; they do have billy goats in the Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit, you know. For the zoo's sake we hope all this tragic business is finally over. Chicagoist spent a day there recently and was reminded what a wonderful place it really is, and how lucky we are to have such a great, FREE zoo in our city.