Monday, April 25, 2011

Yesterday's Zoo--Ibex Island--Brookfield Zoo

Ibex Island was torn down in early 2008 to make room for the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit.


Jim A. said...

Ibex Island was once the Steller sea lion exhibit. In my youth (long ago) we would look down on three large Stellers that would stay in one area, ever though water circled the island. Later when it was drained and had Dall's sheep on it, I could see that there was only a small area where the water would have been over three feet deep. Not to mention the water quality. Wonder why we have the Marine Mammal Protection Act and APHIS inspectors?

Growing up in the Chicago area I got to visit both Lincoln Park and Brookfield. Lincoln Park was the city zoo with a TV persanality Director, R. Marlin Perkins, who made personalities out of the animals. LPZ had a nice collection and a few rarities but nothing like Robert Bean's Brookfield. I'm sure I didn't even appreciate all the unique animals I saw there as a kid. Steller sea lions and Northern elephant seals, Ringling's okapi, tuatara from New Zealand. The small mammal house would have animals you only saw in pencil drawings, so rare no photographs existed. It's had some rough times financialy, actually I think those times are pretty typical, but it has some great history.

Wade G. Burck said...

Great stuff once again. Thank you. You may have answered a mystery for me that I have wondered about. I didn't know, or had forgotten that originally Ibex Island was a sea lion exhibit surrounded by water. I have often wondered at the name Ibex Island, and wondered why not Ibex Mountain, Ibex Rock, Ibex Hill, etc. which is the name normally given to like enclosures, and thought it odd that it was called "Island", not being surrounded by water like a "monkey island."
I never got to see either Lincoln Park or Brookfield until 1977. I have retained a soft spot for Lincoln Park, given it's long history, buildings etc. and I still personally rank it as one of America's Greatest.
Brookfield I was in awe of the first time I saw it. Not for it's history, like Lincoln Park but, it's massiveness and size blew me away. For sure it made Dakota Zoo and Minot look like then State Fair petting zoo's. The first time I saw San Deigo in 1984, by first thought was "boy, is this over rated."
Brookfield I didn't feel was over rated to what I had been able to read and see pictures of. On the contrary I felt it hadn't been done justice. In fact the only time I was disappointed in Brookfield was when they opened Tropic World. As you can imagine, there was incredible hype in the Chicagoland area with figures in excess of 14-17 million dollars tossed about(early 80's remember), and I could hardly wait for it, and made it back to the zoo a month after Tropic World's official opening. Looking at the physical structure as I walked up I thought, "I sure they cover this one with rip rab like they did the Pachyderm Building. I was dumbfounded by what I walked into, and could only think, "Geez, 14 million dollars to build a replica of a napalmed Vietnamese landscape." It's still a head shaker decades later, when you see the same efforts and what was produced by institutions after the opening of Tropic World.

Ryan Easley said...

I thought you had previously discussed the Ibex Island of Brookfield but I could not find the post. I posted a picture of the exhibit in another grouping of photos today from the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Wade G. Burck said...

Rad ar,
Yes, I posted pictures of Ibex Island in the past, with other Brookfield pictures, but I don't recall discussing it. I posted these one's as "Yesterday's Zoo" as the exhibit is now gone, and technically couldn't be a "Ghost Zoo" as the zoo is still operating. Just sort Dan's deal out, and leave mine alone. LOL

ThuntBroski said...

The ibex from ibex mountain actually all died. A few became sick before they decided to renovate. They all died away from the public eye.