Built in 1912, the lion house is one of the oldest buildings at Lincoln Park Zoo and is being renovated and expanded to become Pepper Family Wildlife Center. Renovation efforts will offer visitors nose-to-nose close-up, naturalistic views of the lions from inside the historical Great Hall, new keeper facilities in the lower level to aid in expert animal care, updated public restroom facilities and restoration of the exterior façade. The new expansion of the outdoor habitat will include intricate rockwork providing heating and cooling opportunities for the animals, new outdoor visitor viewing shelters, an indoor "lion loop" to allow views of the animals from the center of the habitat, a meeting room, rentable event space, and new animal holding facilities.
Additional features of the savannah-style habitat include the following:
• Kopje-inspired rockwork to increase both horizontal and vertical space available to the lions, so they can enjoy a high perspective and plenty of surface area to rest comfortably
• Whole Trees® and deadfall made from FSC-certified products to invite lions to climb and play
• A food zipline to mobilize enrichment for lions to stalk and chase “prey”
• Interpretive signs introducing guests to the lions and the zoo’s lion conservation efforts, and inspiring people to contemplate wildlife’s future
• An advanced holding facility with a cubbing den and indoor animal management area so lions can further participate in their own care
Work on the exhibit began in December 2019 and this exciting new space will open to the public in the fall of 2021.