A centuries-old tree at the Lincoln Park Zoo will be cut down later Tuesday, weather permitting.
The tree has stood test of time, but is now at the end of its natural life according to the zoo’s horticulture staff. It was scheduled for removal Monday, but has been postponed due to weather
The majestic tree is no longer soaking up nutrients from the soil and has become a safety risk inside the zoo with his heavy canopy branches reaching over public pathways.
This specific oak tree is 250 to 300 years old and pre-dates the founding of Chicago.
On Friday, zoo guests wrote letters to it to celebrate its life and legacy and say goodbye.
“The tree itself has lived through significant events, including the Chicago fire, so it’s pretty amazing that it’s still here,” said Katrina Quint, the director of horticulture at the Lincoln Park Zoo. “We here at Lincoln Park Zoo have done everything we can to possibly save this tree. Considering that it is 80% dead, it’s now a safety risk for it to keep standing.”
Sunday, Native American faith leaders joined Alderman Brian Hopkins for a traditional blessing of the tree’s eternal spirit.
The zoo’s staff says the tree will live on. They have been working with the Morton Arboretum to preserve its genetics and create a new generation of identical trees. Parts of it will be turned into art.