Back in early July my daughter and I visited Lincoln Park Zoo. When I saw South Pond I thought an environmental disaster had occurred. Gone were the curvilinear paths surrounding the pond. Gone was the island’s wild overgrowth. Gone were the giant swan paddleboats.
We read the signs and learned South Pond was being rebuilt to look more natural. At the time, I thought it strange that I hadn’t seen anything in the newspapers about the disappearance of the swan paddleboats, but since then I’ve learned I’m not the only one puzzled.
Another blogger, Mike Doyle of Chicago Carless, has delved deeply into this story. He’s posted vintage photographs documenting a history of recreational boating on the South Pond and has tracked the press coverage, or lack of it, regarding the paddleboats.
From swans to bears, fake animals are a beloved tradition at the Zoo. According to the Lincoln Park Zoo website, the Nature Boardwalk, as the South Pond has been renamed, was designed to be a model urban ecosystem and outdoor classroom. I can’t argue against that, but I hope the Nature Boardwalk will be, as was its predecessor, pleasing to the eye and fun, too.