Students build tiny homes for animals along the Chicago River as part of Brookfield Zoo program

Students have spent the last nine months learning about and building tiny home for animals that live along the Chicago River as part of the "Science Explorer" program at the Brookfield Zoo.

"It taught me that every single animal around the eco-sytem is very important because without one of them they entire ecosystem can collapse," said student Vincent Izquierdo.


Along the north branch of the Chicago River, called the "Wild Mile," students from the city and suburbs worked together to build tiny habitats.

"I built an Eastern Screech Owl house made out of a mailbox, said Ana Orozco.

Vincent made a floating platform for otters and their buddies.

"The turtles can also go onto it, to like bask in the sun, and when they bask in the sun, we put a covering on the top so that birds can't attack them," Vincent said.

The afterschool program is offered through the Chicago Zoological Society's King Conservation Leadership Academy. The "science explorers" designed and constructed the habitats, then created signage to inform visitors of their importance.

"its really about being able to start with a child at a very young age, just like Vincent and Ana ...and maybe even a career at the Brookfield Zoo," said Graig Mason, King Conservation Leadership Academy Senior Manager.

The King Conservation Leadership Academy is free to students, made possible by generous donors. You can learn more at