This past week I was lucky enough to get to go home to my old stomping grounds - Chicago!! The weather was perfect the entire week (which if you know anything about Chicago - you know how rare that is!) and I had a great visit with family and friends. This trip couldn't be complete without a drawing session at one my favorite places - The Lincoln Park Zoo.
My first stop was at the Gray Seal exhibit. I love watching these guys during the feeding session! They flop themselves up onto the rocks, fetch rings, and open their mouths in the cutest way so the handlers can check their teeth! Being seals, these guys weren't as agile on land as the Sea Lions I saw in New York, but they were just as great.
Next stop was at the Beaver tank - what a guy! He just swam & swam all over the place. Bobbing his head up above the water then diving down deep to the bottom of the tank. I had no idea Beavers were such great swimmers!
After the beaver tank, it was time to visit the big cats. This is one of my favorite things to do at any zoo, and Lincoln Park is no exception. I love the Lion House so much I had my wedding photos taken there! Inside the Big Cat Exhibit I was able to sneak drawings of the Ocelot and the Eurasian Lynx. Generally I haven't been able to see these amazing cats up close but at Lincoln Park they were in plain sight.
However, outside was the most incredible site. The Lions were napping right in front of the viewing glass! It is incredible to be so close to these amazing creatures. The female was only about 2 feet from me! Thank goodness for that glass, otherwise one of us might have made a tasty snack!
In addition to all of these great mammals, this zoo has a great Birds of Prey Exhibit. I was in awe of the majestic Bald Eagle. One of the poor guys had a damaged wing, so the zoo seemed like a perfect fit for him.
I also spent time with the beautiful Snowy Owl. I think that these birds are so gorgeous, I can see why Harry Potty loved Hedwig so much!
Around the corner from the Birds was the White Rhinoceros Exhibit. I don't think I've ever seen so many white rhinos in one place! They had at least 4 of them, and they were all very active walking around their habitat, eating shrubs, etc. One of them had a little rabbit as company and another was playing with a little plastic barrel he had with him. He tossed it up on his horns and flung it down again. He seemed to be having a good old time!
Last but not least was my FAVORITE exhibit - The Wolves! I have yet to see a wolf exhibit at any of the zoos I've visited and this one is particularly fantastic. They have a pretty decent range to run around in and the fencing is fairly open so they are easy to spot. I stood there for at least an hour, sketching and observing. They are so fast and elegant!! There are anywhere from 5-8 wolves at a time, and many of them are relocated into the wild. As of 1980 this particular wolf breed (Red Wolf, a close relative to the much larger Gray Wolf) was completely extinct in the wild. Currently there are 300 Red Wolves in North America and only about 100 or so of those are in the wild. Here's hoping for more in the near future.
If you like these drawings feel free to check out my Animal Life Drawing Set on FLICKR. Observing and drawing animals from life is one of my great loves and I hope everyone enjoys my work!