This Zoo Is Said To Be One Of The Most Haunted Places In America

It's common knowledge that the first rule of avoiding a run-in with ghosts is don't build something over what was once a cemetery. Perhaps, this rule wasn't as well-known back in the mid-19th century, because that's exactly what happened with Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Lincoln Park Zoo opened in 1868, and its first two residents — living residents — were two white swans received as gifts from New York's Central Park. However, the zoo was built on the site of what was formerly the Chicago City Cemetery. According to Illinois Haunted Houses, the Chicago City Cemetery was in operation from 1843 to 1859 and it served as the final resting place for 35,000 people. The reason for the cemetery's closure was its proximity to Lake Michigan, per WGN. A public health official from that time, Dr. John Rauch, was afraid the bodies could contaminate the lake which served as the city's water supply (via Great Chicago Fire). Bodies were being moved out of the cemetery but when the Great Chicago Fire struck the city on October 8, 1871, it destroyed most of the remaining grave markers, making locating the bodies still in the cemetery very difficult. It's believed that as many as 12,000 bodies still remain under the zoo's grounds.

Ghost sightings at the Lincoln Park Zoo

The vast majority of visitors to the Lincoln Park Zoo are there to see the animals on display. These include chimpanzees, African lions, red pandas, and even Guam Kingfishers, a type of small bird of which there is no remaining wild population.

Others, however, might show up at the zoo in hopes of catching a glimpse of some of the supernatural activity that has been reported on its grounds over the years. According to Illinois Haunted Houses, the most commonly reported apparitions are those of people dressed in Victorian-era clothing. It's said that these alleged ghosts have a habit of quickly appearing and disappearing, with some having seen them in mirrors, only to turn around and find no one behind them. It's also said that one such Victorian-garb-donning woman is most commonly seen in the vicinity of the zoo's lion exhibit. According to Choose Chicago, for those brave enough, ghost tours of the zoo are offered with some degree of regularity.