On Wednesday, January 26, I met JT at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is small enough to be a great place to spend time in the winter. Dressing appropriately is the toughest part. If you dress too warmly, you’ll overheat in the efficiently heated buildings. If you dress too lightly, you’ll find that the walk between buildings is longer than you remember.
With few people about, the zoo is yours to savor at your own speed on a January weekday. For the animals, the quiet and the dearth of peering primate faces must seem like a vacation away from the madding crowd, a time to rest and relax before more spring fever and weather draws out the mobs.
On this day, many of the herps were front and center in their exhibits, as were the birds. Even the sometimes elusive sand cat was out of hiding, so comfortable in the relative quiet of the house that it was giving itself a top-to-tail cleaning in cat fashion. In the Ecosystem, the spectacled caiman basked under his heat lamp.
The primary objective of the visit was out of sight when we arrived at the Brach Primate House, and we were sure we wouldn’t see it. But, just as we’d given up, Burma the white-cheeked gibbon made a brief appearance, her infant clinging to her. She looked out for a moment, then sank into a depression in the back of the exhibit, from where only her shoulders and face were visible, the little one hidden below. Caruso, neglected as new fathers often are, played to his audience of three, first to me, then to a younger, thinner woman. Typical male! We did get a glimpse of the wee gibbon, with its pink face and large, fuzzy (not furry) head, but Burma didn’t hang around long enough for a photo.
After watching a cinereous vulture drive off a flock of starlings and overstaying our welcome in the McCormick Bird House (zoo buildings close early in winter), we headed across the street to R.J. Grunts, just in time to beat the crowd and to get a brown cow and a trio of tuna melts. Mmmm, mmmm, good — comfort food to warm up with.