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The wilds of Lincoln Park

7-23-07 A coyote wanders around south end Lincoln Park. Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

7-23-07 A coyote wanders around the south end of Lincoln Park. Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

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Updated: February 18, 2012 8:15AM

The Nature Boardwalk at the Lincoln Park Zoo is a pristine, 14-acre nature preserve, with a half-mile boardwalk hugging the pond’s edge. This gem is a splendid refuge for people, plants and animals.

While strolling around its west side one recent snowy evening, I saw what appeared to be an unleashed dog loping comfortably southward along the east side of the pond in the direction of an unsuspecting couple walking toward it. The animal was indeed unleashed and turned out to be — a coyote! Continuing on, I met the couple, who in fact had seen the coyote come within 20 feet of them. Leaving the boardwalk, the coyote went around them and after passing them, it returned to its jaunt southward along the boardwalk.

I then told the couple that I had just seen a large snowy owl in a tree that the coyote had just passed. It turned out to be a large, puffy, very white snowy owl, strategically perched and motionless (except for occasional head turning and eye movement) on the top of a leafless tree at a bend of the boardwalk — a splendid vantage point from which to observe its prey to be. We watched the owl for about five minutes, after which it flew off majestically, presumably to find another location with less human intrusion.

Awestruck, we talked about our good fortune and serendipitous brush with nature. How fortunate we all were to have had a brief chance to be with these magnificent animals in their noble habitat.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View

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