Conservation Field Diaries

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September 7, 2014
Serengeti Initiative Update

Summer is nearly over and we at the Serengeti Health Initiative have enjoyed our own “dog days of summer.” We’ve vaccinated over 27,000 dogs for rabies, distemper and parvovirus so far this year and there are still plenty more to go!

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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

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.

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