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Snow monkeys, new train part of $15 million Lincoln Park Zoo project



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Updated: July 30, 2013 7:39AM

Lincoln Park Zoo is making room for at least five new red furry faces to make their debut in the fall of next year, officials said.

The Japanese macaques will join a new train for youngsters as part of new amenities at the North Side zoo. The $15 million project was secured mostly through private funding and includes a $750,000 state grant.

Zoo officials plan to break ground on the project near the zoo’s West Gate entrance in the next few weeks. It is scheduled to open fall, 2014.

The 7,300-square foot Regenstein Macaque Forest for the monkeys will replace the old penguin habitat, which had been at the zoo for more than three decades.

Zoo officials decided to feature the Japanese macaques, known as snow monkeys, because of their ability to weather any climate condition.

“They can be outside year round, and, especially in Chicago, that’s an asset. They can be in the summer heat or in the snow,” said Sharon Dewar, director of public relations at the zoo.

The animals have already been selected from other partner zoos, and will be transferred to Lincoln Park Zoo upon project completion.

The monkeys are chosen with the hopes that they will breed. There is room for up to 20, Dewar said.

The primates will participate in various research studies at the zoo, though nothing concrete has been set up yet.

The Japanese macaques are native to Japan and are the most northern-living primates. They have red faces and brown fur.

Webcams will be set up to add to the visitor experience, and perhaps play a role in the research, Dewar said. Researchers will interact with the monkeys via touchscreen computers and give visitors a chance to witness it.

In other attractions, the children’s train will include an electric-powered locomotive seating 26 youngsters and resemble a 19th century-style steam engine.

There also will be new handicap-accessible restrooms.

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