Cygnets, piglets and chicks, oh my!

See Chicago’s zoo (and oceanarium) babies this summer


There’s nothing like a baby animal to elicit an “awww” from parents and children alike. And there are lots of babies—from swan cygnets to penguin chicks—to ooh and aah over this summer in Chicago.

At Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium (, three penguin chicks—two rockhoppers and one gentoo—are on display in the Oceanarium, but not easy to see. In a family tradition that gives new meaning to the term “babysitting,” the mom and dad penguins take turns sitting on the babies. So, if you go, be patient. My kids and I watched for 40 minutes and think we may have seen one tiny wing when the mom stretched for a minute. Or maybe not.

At Brookfield Zoo (, there is the trumpeter swan cygnet. Only one of the two babies that hatched June 4 survived, but you can see it gliding around Indian Lake.

Bakari, a western lowland gorilla born May 2 at Brookfield Zoo, is just teething.  The baby male can be seen tightly gripping his mom, Bintu Jua, as they climb through the Tropic World exhibit.

For regular arrivals, visit Brookfield’s Children’s Zoo, where you can almost always see newly hatched chicks and recently born piglets.

Like Brookfield, Lincoln Park Zoo ( has baby swans, too—complete with the fluffy gray feathers of the “ugly duckling” phase. But most of Lincoln Park’s babies are at the Farm in the Zoo. The nine piglets born July 1 were 5 days old when we saw them, and they had more than quintupled in size from the 1½ pounds they weighed at birth. These babies will grow to 400 pounds by their first birthday. But Lynne Pieper, curator of the Farm in the Zoo, says they’ll stay little and cute for the next few months.

And there always are chicks. A half- dozen or so hatch each day at Lincoln Park. Editor’s secret: If you go to Lincoln Park Zoo, go early. The Farm in the Zoo doesn’t officially open until 10 a.m., but the gate is usually open by 8:30 a.m. and the zoo keepers have the animals outside, where they’re easier to see. Cindy Richards


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