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It’s time to close Indian Boundary Park Zoo

Margaretwhite fallow deer is fed July 1953 Indian Boundary Park small zoo North Side.

Margareta, a white fallow deer ,is fed in July 1953 at Indian Boundary Park, a small zoo on the North Side.

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Updated: August 25, 2013 6:26AM

When Indian Boundary Park Zoo in West Ridge opened in the 1920s, it featured a single American black bear. That was quite a draw — a bear in a cage in a city park.

But people change, so things changed. What looked to one generation like a zoo looked to another generation like an animal prison. Indian Boundary hasn’t housed typical zoo animals, such as monkeys, bears, bobcats, foxes and wolves, since 1984, the year cages built in 1925 were deemed unsuitable habitats.

What’s you’ll find today at Indian Boundary is more of a petting zoo — two ducks, six chickens and two goats. For space and safety reasons, the zoo is licensed to house only domestic animals. The park district would have to spend $2 million on federally required infrastructure improvements before it could bring in bigger farm animals, such as cows. The zoo’s annual budget is only $90,000.

The Park District has a better idea. It proposes shutting down the zoo and creating an interactive nature area at Indian Boundary, with a variety of habitats and an annual Harvest Fest featuring a petting zoo and pony rides.

The Lincoln Park Zoo, having had success with its own nature boardwalk, supports the Park District plan, arguing that it could improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.

While the park’s advisory council is holding a meeting Wednesday in an effort to prevent the closing, much of the neighborhood appears to be on board with the new plan, enthusiastically offering tweaks, such as an herb garden.

It all sounds fantastic, and we urge all residents to support the nature project. And if he were with us today, we’re pretty sure that lonely American black bear would agree.

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