Conservation Field Diaries

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March 25, 2014
Family Planning for Puerto Rican Parrots

To help the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, I recently took my everyday scientific advising of animal populations from my Chicago office to the dense, green rainforests of Puerto Rico. My colleagues at Lincoln Park Zoo and I have been working with the dedicated staff at two aviaries in on the island since 2006, making a perfect match of our population management expertise and their husbandry skills.

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April 11, 2013
Guest Post from the President—Great Ape Economics?

With President and CEO Kevin Bell in Charleston for the AZA mid-year conference, he hands over his blog to Fisher Center Director Steve Ross, who offers an update on the zoo's latest work to understand--and protect--great apes.

Research Scientist Lydia Hopper, Ph.D.,

November 28, 2012
Gorilla Matchmaking and Family Planning

The zoo’s two new infant gorillas aren’t just a milestone for the new gorilla moms and their social group at Regenstein Center for African Apes. They’re also the culmination of years of planning and cooperation by more than 50 zoos and hundreds of zoo professionals—keepers, curators, directors, vets, institutional representatives, advisors and more—around the country.

November 15, 2012
Learning How to Be a Gorilla from Mom

Here at the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, we’re very excited about the baby gorilla born last month. The mother, Bana, is being a great caregiver for the infant, Patty, who will be completely dependent on mom for many months.

November 7, 2012
Back on Bats

Thanks to the nature-loving citizens of Chicago, researchers from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute have received numerous emails with helpful suggestions on where bats are living in our city!

Just one example—here's a photo of a eastern red bat provided by John Farabaugh in Hebron, Indiana. Eastern red bats are pretty common around here.

November 6, 2012
International Exchange

Last month a group of us traveled to Vienna’s University of Veterinary Medicine for the third Annual International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology conference. Zoo staff Diana Armstrong, Edward Wilkerson and I made the trip, in part to discuss the endocrinology database Lincoln Park Zoo has been developing.

October 30, 2012
Listening to the Skies

Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute expanded our wildlife surveys this year to include some rarely encountered nighttime friends: bats! Bats play an important role in North American ecosystems, helping control insect pests ranging from pesky mosquitoes to big, juicy moths.

October 24, 2012
Goodbye to Guam

After the Rota release it was back to the computers for more work creating a population management plan for the 50 rails in AZA facilities and the roughly 100 rails housed at Guam DAWR. These plans include which individuals should breed with whom, individual animals being moved within the AZA and between the AZA and Guam DAWR, and a super typhoon plan (which identifies the most valuable birds for recreating the population—these birds should be moved to a secure location first should a super typhoon threaten Guam).

October 15, 2012
Return to the Wild

After a couple days sitting in a conference room with a lot of air conditioning, it was time to go to Rota, an island just north of Guam in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. We woke up early on Friday to take the first plane out.

Suzanne and the DAWR folks crated up the rails that were going to be released that day on Rota and met us at the airport. The rails were quiet while we waited to get checked in and go through security.

September 28, 2012
Planning a Return from Extinction

I recently had the opportunity to go to Guam to work with wildlife staff there to discuss strategies for the future of Guam rails. Guam rails, which are called ko’ko’ in Chamorros, are a small, brown, flightless ground bird. They’re extinct in their native habitat of Guam thank to the introduction of the brown tree snake.

This was my second trip to Guam to work with the folks there on this critically endangered species.

September 19, 2012
Headstarting Smooth Green Snakes in Lake County

A head-started smooth green snake basking in the enclosure following the release.

Lincoln Park Zoo has been working with the Lake County Forest Preserve District for several years now to restore smooth green snakes to th

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