CHICAGO — The Lincoln Park Zoo’s lion enclosure is getting a major $35 million upgrade — but that also means its pride will be leaving soon.
The pride, including 9-year-old lion Sahar and 5-year-old lionesses Kamali and Zalika, will be sent to a zoo in Kansas in the coming weeks, according to Lincoln Park Zoo.
While they’re gone, the Kovler Lion House will undergo renovations, with the updated habitat expected to open in the 2020s.
The Kovler Lion House was opened in 1912 and construction for the renovation is expected to start this fall.
The renovation will be “state-of-the-art,” taking in account the needs of the pride and future cubs, according to the zoo. Experts monitored the lions’ behavior, their use of the habitat and their preferences to design the updated enclosure.
Once finished, the Kovler’s lion habitat will take up all of the northern side of the building. It will feature “intricate rockwork to increase vertical complexity,” as well as heating and cooling elements, according to the zoo.
A food zipline that will simulate prey will be installed for feedings.
Guests will be able to see the lions from inside and outside the house, and there will be a training wall where guests can see the “lions participating in their own healthcare,” according to the zoo.
There will be a “goodbye” event for the pride 8-10 a.m. Saturday during the zoo’s Members-Only Morning. Attendees will be able to send cards with well wishes to the lions.
The zoo is still raising money for the project. Information about donating is available online.