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Lincoln Park Zoo celebrates 150 years of memories, conservation efforts

CHICAGO — A Chicago treasure opened its gates to kick off a big celebration Sunday, as the Lincoln Park Zoo marked its 150th anniversary.

It all began with two swans in 1868, and has evolved into what it is today over 150 years. When Kevin Bell began at the zoo some 40 years ago, it was still evolving from a collection of animals into something more. Bell is now the zoo's CEO.

"When I came to the zoo in 1970s... we were known as the oldest zoo in North America," Bell said. "Our focus in our exhibits is more about teaching people more about the habitats of where the animals come from, how they can help conserve animals in the wild."

Displays at the zoo honoring its anniversary include a manifest of the animals in its care in 1897, the medical bag of famed "Zoo Parade" doctor Lester Fisher and a favorite chair of Bushman the gorilla. Zoo patron Evelyn Rodgers remembers Bushman as the main attraction.

"He’d move.. you know? And everyone would get scared," Rodgers remembers. "Bushman was the most popular but that chair and a tire suspended from a chain, that was the enrichment that he had."

Explore milestones and other moments in the history of the Lincoln Park Zoo in the gallery below (Photos courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)