Conservation Field Diaries

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February 23, 2015
The Zoo Is Prepared for the Flu

This past year you couldn’t look at the news without reading about the recent Ebola virus outbreak. However, just a few years ago, the same could be said for bird flu. And as Ebola recedes from the news, bird flu has unfortunately made a resurgence with the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirming the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in Washington and Oregon.

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February 23, 2015
The Zoo Is Prepared for the Flu

This past year you couldn’t look at the news without reading about the recent Ebola virus outbreak. However, just a few years ago, the same could be said for bird flu. And as Ebola recedes from the news, bird flu has unfortunately made a resurgence with the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirming the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in Washington and Oregon.

February 19, 2015
Signs in the Snow

As many Chicagoans hunker down indoors to keep warm, we at the Urban Wildlife Institute have been braving the elements to set up cameras during our winter field season.

February 2, 2015
Measuring the Lives of Mountain Gorillas

Wild animals often face significant challenges that zoo animals’ carefully managed lives make them immune to. In addition to securing food every day, finding shelter from the elements and protecting themselves from predators, they have to navigate the stress of changes in their social groups—changes that, in the wild, can have deadly consequences.

December 17, 2014
Tag, You're It!

Since the launch of Chicago Wildlife Watch, almost 250,000 tags have been committed to the first season of available data. This is a huge amount of information, and Urban Wildlife Institute researchers thought it was about time to start visualizing it! As a first pass, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at what people have been tagging.

December 15, 2014
Trees for Chimpanzees

I miss living in the forest. Every morning, vocalizing colobus monkeys provided my alarm clock, and I’d hear chimpanzees stirring among the trees. From my bedroom window I’d watch monkeys leap from branch to branch. I was without the comforts of home—running water, electricity, phone, refrigeration—but it was a small sacrifice for the opportunity to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat.

November 19, 2014
Close Up on Camera Traps

Dozens of “camera traps” in the Republic of Congo’s remote Goualougo Triangle let zoo scientists record how chimpanzees use tools in the wild.

November 14, 2014
Chicago Canine Close-Up

Many of the predatory mammals that live in and around Chicago are canids (a biological family including coyotes, foxes, wolves, domestic dogs and more.). These are among the species we see at the Urban Wildlife Institute as we sort through the more than 1 million photos of local wildlife we’ve gathered through the Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring Project.

November 6, 2014
Taking the Pledge to Protect Polar Bears

A month ago today I left the temperate Chicago fall weather (this was before that freak Halloween snow!) for a journey to the subarctic. I’m still trying to process the experience and make sense of the things I learned and saw while walking a mile or two in a polar bear’s steps.

October 23, 2014
Heads Up on Local Wildlife

If you’ve logged in to Chicago Wildlife Watch and are entering data from our Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring project, you’ve noticed we’re collecting information on the species, the number of individuals and the presence of young in more than 1 million photos of Chicago wildlife. This information helps us understand what types of habitat Chicago’s urban wildlife prefers and how that might change over time.

October 15, 2014
Spotting Bears on the Tundra

This was the third day we’d spent on the tundra looking for polar bears. As I mentioned previously, we saw eight bears on our first day, but they were mostly far away. Yesterday, we were thrilled to get some closer images, including a mother and two cubs not 50 feet from us.

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