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This seems like a topic which, in hindsight, should have come about sooner! Yesterday, I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is in the city quite near the lake. It's an hour's drive most days, each way, so I don't go as often as I might, but I got a membership which includes parking, and yesterday was a celebration of their 150th anniversary. (Why anniversary instead of birthday? No idea.) So, I made the drive, parked in the lot, and spent a good part of the day at the zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is unusual in that it is free to enter and enjoy. They sell food and souveneirs and a few kid rides, like a carousel, but admission itself is to just walk in one of several gates, which they only have so they can close at the end of the day. The Great Apes are always a highlight, having both gorillas and chimpanzees. They're housed in very large enclosures with glass walls that give visitors a great view, even larger outdoor areas, and huge, complicated arrays of ropes and fake trees and shelves and fake bamboo and etc, which can to some extent be rearranged to keep things interesting. Since it was grey, cold, and drizzling outside, despite having the door open the apes chose to stay inside. For the 150th, the keepers did various "enrichment" activities, things done to make their lives less dull, such as making thin Jello-jigglers-type treats in the shape of the number 150 and sticking them to the glass at various heights, and draping blankets over the ropes in various places for the chimps, and putting cardboard boxes in with the gorillas to play with and destroy. The floors are covered in a thick layer of mulch thwt they can dig into if desired, and they tossed in popcorn, veggies, monkey biscuits, and a boatload of Romaine leaves, so they could all forage and have a nice salad. They moved a large display to reveal a big window into a behind-the-scenes area so we could watch a training session with the silverback gorilla. The keeper asked him to hold up a hand or foot, open his mouth, turn around and put his thigh or shoulder or back against the grating between them, and various other actions that might be needed to get a good look at and/or treat an injury. He got grape tomatoes as a reward, along with sips of juice. They said the juice is diluted so it's not so high calorie, and they give it so that they can hide medicines in it if needed. Since he does this routine every day, he's not suspicious when offered a drink of juice that's got a purpose behind it. Later on, I could see in a back corner of the chimp enclosure what was clearly a similar training session with one of the chimps. The chimps also had what looked like big popsicles of dilute fruit juice, with embedded fruit, frozen around a length of unbreakable fire hose material and hung about the enclosure. They were too cold and slippery to grab proper hold of and pull for long. While I was watching, one of the older female chimps picked up a blanket, wrapped it around a popsicle, and used the blanket to get traction and not freeze her fingers while she pulled until it came loose. She then carried them both up to a big concrete ledge, and with the ice wrapped in the blanket, smashed it against the concrete several times to break it into pieces without sending ice flying. She then shared bits of popsicle with her friends. Seemed like a very nice use of tools! Later on, one of the males tried pulling on ice without any insulation, but quickly gave up and just swung the chunk on its tether up onto the top of the ropes in that spot, and leaned down to suck on the popsicle until he got a big chunk of fruit out. The Dwarf Mongooses had a little structure built of cardboard and decorated with painted "150"s that had several layers and holes and tunnels. The zebra had a very large 150 with yummy hay sticking out of various holes. I could see remnants of some sort of 5 and 0 in the aardvark enclosure. There was what looked like bright blue remains of a pinata in the African Painted Dog area. It looks like all the keepers had fun coming up with enrichment ideas! I also got to see a display of stuff from the history of the zoo, most interesting of which to me was the doctor's bag the original first vet the zoo ever hired used to treat the various animals! They had a couple of rows of vials of various medications, hand labeled, some of which we still use today. There were old-style metal syringes and log books of the care creatures received from the first turn-of-the-century of the zoo and from the 1960s. Apparently, the bag wound up forgotten on a shelf in an office, and wasn't rediscovered until recently. I wish the weather had been nicer, for the zoo's sake; they were probably counting on a good turn-out for this event. It was definitely worth venturing out into the cold drizzle for!