Conservation Field Diaries

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July 14, 2014
Back in the Field to Save Black-Footed Ferrets

Before this spring, it had been almost eight years since I had done black-footed ferret fieldwork! So I was excited to head back into the wild in March. After all, beyond helping a critically endangered species, there’s nothing like being out on the prairie in the middle of the night.

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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

September 5, 2012
Documenting Raptors in the City

We’ve just returned, sweaty and tired, from retrieving our wildlife cameras positioned throughout Chicago as part of the Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring Project.

Trying to build the most thorough collection of urban wildlife data ever means that our Urban Wildlife Institute team is always out in the field—rain or shine, heat wave or snowstorm.

August 16, 2012
Using Special Tasks to Gauge How Chimpanzees Think

“Ooh, ooh, ooh ooh!” Ellie, a petite chimpanzee with an intense demeanor, food grunts loudly to show her excitement over seeing fruit cereal being dropped several feet in front of her enclosure. She anxiously grabs the tool provided by the keeper that allows her to reach the colorful cereal. Then she quickly begins shoveling the tasty treats toward her, eating them with delight.

August 13, 2012
How Much Ground Would a Woodchuck Cover?

A nuisance woodchuck being released to the wild after translocation.

We are more than halfway through our summer field season and have been quite busy so far!

August 3, 2012
Guam Rails Back from the Brink and Into the Wild

As vice president of animal care at Lincoln Park Zoo, I’m used to thinking about lots of different animals representing a wide variety of species during the day. For the next 10 days though, I’m concentrating all my efforts on one critically endangered species—Guam rails.

July 18, 2012
Working with the Community

Participants in the Upward Bound program make prairie dog observations at Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Today we took the Upward Bound students to do behavioral observations on prairie dogs and horses. I think it was the first time most of them just sat and took time to watch wildlife.

July 16, 2012
Upward Bound

Some of the public art Rachel sees while collaborating with Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation on black-footed ferret conservation.

Today was our first day with the Upward Bound program, which helps high school students prep for college. The Northern Cheyenne chapter has around 20 students from high schools in and around the reservation.

July 11, 2012
A Smoky Arrival at Northern Cheyenne Reservation
Part of the beautiful landscape around Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

I’ve been visiting the Northern Cheyenne tribe in Montana since October 2009 as part of the zoo’s partnership with the community to conserve endangered black-foo

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