Friday, July 5, 2013

Skyenimals Spotlight on Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, Illinois.

From bald eagles to wolves the 98 year old Phillips Park Zoo entertains over 200,000 visitors per year. At almost 100 years old, Phillips Park Zoo is quickly approaching it's centennial in 2015. Phillips Park Zoo is a small, no entrance fee, zoo in Aurora, Illinois that features primarily North American wildlife.

River Otter at Phillips Park Zoo
With more than 80 animals and over 40 different species this quaint zoo gives Aurora residents and visitors plenty to see. Three of the most popular animals with visitors are the North American river otters, mountain lions and the wolves. The reptile house is also a popular destination with zoo guests.

Alligator in the Reptile House at Phillips Park Zoo

Although there is a limited amount of land at Phillips Park Zoo, the animals are provided ample exhibit space. The zoo prefers to house fewer animals comfortably instead of trying to house more animals in smaller exhibits. The elk and wolves, for example, have very large exhibits. These exhibit sizes rival those you may see at many larger and nationally recognized zoos.

Barred Owl at Phillips Park Zoo
In addition to housing animals in good sized exhibits, the zoo is also home to many rescue animals. Some of the rescued animals at the zoo include owls, eagles and various birds of prey. Many of the rescues have permanent disabilities that prevent them from being released back into the wild.

Gray Wolf at Phillips Park Zoo, in Aurora, IL
Any zoo of 98 years undoubtedly has a lot of history and has experienced a large amount of change, and Phillips Park Zoo is no exception. In its early years, the zoo was home to exotic animals such as monkeys and giraffes. Phillips Park Zoo changed its focus to native animals after nearby Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934. In 1937, Mastodon bones and tusks were found during the digging of a lake on the property. These Mastodon fossils are now on display at the main visitors center of the zoo.
Mastodon statue at Phillips Park Zoo
Many people who grew up in Aurora or the western suburbs of Chicago remember Phillips Park Zoo as a place to see American black bears. Unfortunately, the zoo hasn't had any black bears since their last bear died of cancer over a decade ago.  However, this may change someday. The zoo has considered expansion with the hopes of bringing back black bears to the zoo. Of course, a change like this is complicated and would require additional fund raising or a substantial donation.

The zoo continues to add new animals through rescue and breeding programs it participates in. Recent additions include two barn owls (July 2013). The zoo is also looking into adding two wolf cubs to the current wolf pack. Be sure to "like" the Phillips Park Zoo facebook page for news and updates. You can also "like" the Skyenimals facebook page for pictures from Phillips Park Zoo and many other places.

Phillips Park Zoo is open year round, and hosts several special events throughout the year. Check the Phillips Park Aurora web site for zoo hours and event information before visiting. And, of course, watch for additional centennial celebration information leading up to the 2015 season!

Want even more information and pictures from Phillips Park Zoo? Then check out the Skyenimals' Phillips Park Zoo page. If you visit the zoo and get any good pictures please share them here or on!

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