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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May 25, 2012
Planning the Future for Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes

In addition to searching for massasaugas in the cattails and mud puddles of southwest Michigan recently, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan® (SSP) committee that coordinates zoo management of the species also held their annual population planning meeting.

May 22, 2012
A View from the Lab

Our recent fieldwork with eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in southwest Michigan had most of the attendees slogging through cattails and mud puddles in search of this shy and elusive snake.


The eastern massasauga rattlesnake Lisa spotted in Michigan--her first in four years of looking!
May 15, 2012
What It’s Like to Look for Rattlesnakes

I was lucky to be able to join the eastern massasauga rattlesnake survey team in southeastern Michigan a couple weeks ago, part of Lincoln Park Zoo’s efforts to save the species, which is endangered in Illinois. I arrived excited to search, but as a novice, I was first shown photos to get the “search image” in my mind of what a snake looks like with its cryptic coloration hidden among vegetation.

April 20, 2012
Being “Fully Chimpanzee”

A child reaches out to chimpanzee Riley at the Houston Zoo. Courtesy of the Houston Zoo Inc.

March 30, 2012
Discovery of a New Species of Rabies Virus

A civet cat in Serengeti National Park.

The effectiveness of the Lincoln Park Zoo–led effort to eliminate rabies in Serengeti National Park is often measured in rabies sightings in the park’s wild animals.

February 6, 2012
Climbing the Mountain to See Gorillas

It seemed like we were surrounded by the famous mountain gorillas.

February 2, 2012
Happy Groundhog Day!

Every year on February 2, we celebrate Groundhog Day. But what are groundhogs, and why do they have their own holiday?

Groundhogs (a.k.a. woodchucks) are medium-sized rodents, typically weighing 7–10 pounds.

January 30, 2012
Studying Stress in Rwanda’s Gorillas

A view of the mountains.

January 6, 2012
Cold, Hard Science

Chicago winters are tough on wildlife. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty tough on the field biologists who venture out into the cold to learn about wildlife.


Research Coordinator Liza Watson Lehrer in winter gear.

Many researchers restrict their work to the summer months, when temperatures are high, food is abundant and animals are moving around.

December 13, 2011
The Community Moves Boulders

Lesanna Lahner, our new veterinary epidemiologist fellow, and I began our trip to Africa by landing at the Kilimajaro airport and driving to Arusha, Tanzania.

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