Last June, the Lincoln Park Zoo unveiled its new Nature Boardwalk exhibit, an “oasis in the city” with 14 acres of natural shoreline and dozens of species of fish, birds and reptiles.
On Tuesday, the zoo got some help from local students to release 10 painted turtles into the pond at the zoo’s southern end. Five of the turtles have transmitters attached to their shells, which will send back data to zoo staff.
The kids, kindergarteners from Beidler Elementary in Garfield Park, wished the turtles farewell from the landing dock.
“Hopefully these kids are going to remember this and connect with the animals,” says Victoria Hunt, coordinate of wildlife management for the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute. With the tracking devices, she says, “they’llbe able to come back and check up on them and get updates.”
Hunt says the South Pond is a great place to watch the fall bird migration through Chicago this fall. It’s also home to a colony of black-crowned night herons, who landed at the zoo last summer to mate and have grown in number.
The pond is about a mile from the hustle and bustle of North Michigan Avenue, which makes it a perfect centerpiece for the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute.
“You look up and you can see the Hancock Tower, but then around you are all these grasses and birds and insects and now turtles,” says Sharon Dewar, the zoo’s director of public relations.