(Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

If you’re seeking activities that don’t break the bank this winter, look no further than local museums, zoos and gardens. A number have announced free admission days in 2024.

A black-crowned night heron, in its signature hunched stance, with long white streamers just visible. (Dulcey Lima / Unsplash)

The more scientists can learn about the Chicago colony of black-crowned night herons, the more they can help these birds help themselves. Because night herons are hanging on in Illinois by a thread.

A bur oak, estimated at 250-300 years old, is dismantled at Lincoln Park Zoo, May 2, 2023. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Lincoln Park Zoo said farewell today to a 300-year-old bur oak, but the tree will live on in multiple ways.

Recent vandalism at LaBagh Woods. Fencing designed to protect native shrubs from deer was torn apart. (Chicago Ornithological Society / Twitter)

A mystery vandal is once again undoing ecological restoration work at LaBagh Woods.

Lincoln Park Zoo's ancient bur oak, seen in fall 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Crews are scheduled to begin removal of the ancient bur oak on May 1. The zoo is planning Arbor Day events on April 28 to give the tree a celebratory farewell.

Lincoln Park Zoo's new lion cubs make their public debut, April 14, 2023. (Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

On Friday, Lincoln Park Zoo’s three new male African lion cubs greeted the public in their outdoor habitat for the first time since they were born Jan. 9.

Sidai, Lomelok and Pesho — African lion cubs born at Lincoln Park Zoo. (Lincoln Park Zoo / Jill Dignan)

The cubs were named in partnership with Maasai lion guardians in Tanzania. 

One of Lincoln Park Zoo's new lion cubs receives his first checkup. (Lincoln Park Zoo)

The cubs, born Jan. 9, received their first health checkups this week, allowing the zoo's veterinary staff to confirm all the youngsters are male.

Groundhog chowing on clover. (Shenandoah National Park)

For an animal that has its own holiday, the groundhog kind of flies under the radar. Let’s get to know it better.

Zari, just days before giving birth. (Lincoln Park Zoo / Twitter)

Lincoln Park Zoo announced it welcomed not one, not two, but three lion cubs on Monday. The zoo had been on lion watch since early December, when staff confirmed 4-year-old African lion Zari was pregnant.

Zari, Lincoln Park Zoo's 4-year-old African lion, is expecting a litter in January. Here she is with her cub, Pilipili, born in March 2022. (Lincoln Park Zoo / Diana Miller)

"A birth represents preservation of a species that has faced many challenges in the wild,” said Mike Murray, curator of mammals and animal behavioral husbandry.

Katrina Quint, director of horticulture at Lincoln Park Zoo, stands in the shadow of the zoo's oldest inhabitant, a bur oak that's 250-300 years old. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A bur oak has towered over the zoo’s south lawn, opposite the primate house, since before there even was a zoo. It even predates the founding of the United States of America. 

(DSD / Pexels)

For the eighth year in a row, Chicago reigns supreme over Orkin’s Rattiest Cities list, but not everyone is convinced the city deserves the dubious distinction.

Monty in the foreground, Rose in the rear. (Credit: Ann Gunkle)

The beloved piping plover, dubbed the king of Montrose Beach, died May 13. Monty first captured Chicagoans’ hearts in 2019 when he and his mate, Rose, became the first pair of endangered Great Lakes piping plovers to nest in the city since the 1950s

The Field Museum’s historic egg collection is shedding new light on climate change. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A new study led by the Field Museum shows that a number of bird species are laying their eggs nearly a month earlier than 100 years ago, likely due to climate change.

New mom Zari snuggling with her cub, barely visible in the lower part of the frame. (Lincoln Park Zoo)

The cub was born March 15, with its sex still unknown. Mom Zari and dad Jabari both arrived at the zoo in 2021 for the opening of the Pepper Family Wildlife Center.