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The outdoors component of Museum Campus: The Field, the Shedd and Lake Michigan

The Man-eater of Mfuwe exhibit at the Field Museum.
Credit: Dale Bowman

While looking at Sambar deer, our daughter said, ‘‘They look like a cross of moose and capybara.’’

I know moose up close, but I had no clue about capybara, the largest living rodent. Why she thought of that, I have no idea.

There are always discoveries at the Field Museum.

We ended up at the Field on Monday. Our goal was to do the free day at the Shedd Aquarium, but the line was too long by the time we found parking near the Museum Campus.

Anyone near the Museum Campus on Monday knows it was jammed to a near-standstill for much of the day. My secret parking spot involved a longer walk, but it saved the aggravation and higher cost of the main lots.

The Madhouse on McFetridge Drive reminded me why the news that Chicago drew a record 55.2 million visitors in 2017 didn’t surprise me.

Those of us who live here don’t appreciate how special it is to have the Field, the Shedd, the Adler Planetarium, Northerly Island, Soldier Field and McCormick Place clumped together.

It’s unique. It’s world-class. And it’s on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I kicked myself for not paying the online charge of $3 a ticket to preorder the free tickets for the Shedd. But we adjusted and switched to the Field. It is unique to be able to walk a couple of hundred yards between two such institutions.

A mixed scene at the Field Museum.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Inside the Field, I overhead a mother with a clutch of kids say, ‘‘Shall we start with that since we are here?’’ With that, she summed up the Field.

Our youngest son always starts us with the Egyptian exhibit.

I focused on the mammal exhibits. With much smirking, our youngest, being a teenager, dragged me to the Somali wild ass.

Somehow, the ‘‘Man-eater of Mfuwe’’ pulled at me. It was the largest man-eating lion on record from Zambia, shot by former Chicagoan Wayne Hosek in 1991. I know that exhibit, but I also passed ‘‘The Lions of Tsavo,’’ about the man-eaters that killed at least 28 railroad workers in what is now Kenya.

We finished up with our daughter’s pick, ‘‘The Evolving Planet.’’ The exhibit has one of my favorite views over Monroe Harbor of downtown.

Seeing the iconic skyline by Lake Michigan, I was reminded how unique fishing against that backdrop is and how little is done to promote to visitors coho fishing in spring, smallmouth fishing much of the year and lake-trout fishing year-round.

The Shedd (sheddaquarium.org) has more free days for Illinois residents, including Thursday, Friday, then Monday through Jan. 26. So does the Field (fieldmuseum.org), next on Jan. 27-28.

The view of the Chicago skyline over Monroe Harbor, through the snow, from the “Evolving Planet” at the Field Museum.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Wild things

Carl Strang, the former Forest Preserve District of DuPage County naturalist, updated his singular ‘‘Singing Insects of the Chicago Region.’’ If you’re interested in a copy, contact Strang at wildlifer@aol.com.

Stray cast

Hearing the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan (RIP) sing ‘‘Little Drummer Boy’’ is like watching someone fly-fishing for yellow perch.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.