Projects

Learn About the Zoo's Research Projects

The Serengeti Health Initiative aims to preserve the African region's rich wildlife while benefiting local people.

Serengeti Health Initiative
The Serengeti Health Initiative aims to preserve the African region's rich wildlife while benefiting local people. Through wildlife surveillance, vaccination programs, animal conservation projects and research on how wild animals, domestic animals and humans interact, this collaborative effort will build a better understanding of the Serengeti ecosystem, one that can help keep it healthy and whole.


Goualougo Triangle Ape Project
In a remote region of the Republic of Congo, researchers are conducting groundbreaking research into how gorillas and chimpanzees live alongside one another in one of the most pristine landscapes on earth.


Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan
The Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP) serves 35 zoos across the United States to help guide the management of the chimpanzee population.


Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Recovery Efforts
Habitat loss has caused this shy species to be endangered through much of its range, including Illinois. Lincoln Park Zoo works with partners across the country to guide its recovery.


Restoring the Smooth Green Snake
Lincoln Park Zoo is working with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to return the region’s smooth green snakes to their natural habitats.


The Mind of the Chimpanzee: Ecological and Experimental Perspectives
Featuring a foreword by Jane Goodall

Edited by Lincoln Park Zoo scientist Steve Ross, Ph.D., the Mind of the Chimpanzee features contributions from 30 of the world’s leading chimpanzee researchers. Exploring topics ranging from tool use to chimpanzee culture, this exciting scholarly volume collects the latest knowledge on our closest living relative.


Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring
Monitoring stations from city to suburbs will help scientists chronicle the wildlife of the Chicago region.


Conserving the Black-Footed Ferret
Thought to be extinct, the black-footed ferret was rediscovered 30 years ago, starting a recovery program that's reintroduced 2,000 individuals back to the wild. Now a special partnership between Lincoln Park Zoo and Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation is advancing efforts to bring the species back from the brink.


Rabbit Management Study at Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo’s commitment to finding non-lethal solutions for conflicts between animals and people begins at home.


Urban Black-tailed Prairie Dog Ecology
A long-term study to unravel the role of black-tailed prairie dogs in urban ecosystems.


Black Rhinoceros Conservation in Addo Elephant National Park
Lincoln Park Zoo scientists are assisting the recovery of endangered black rhinos in South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park. Black rhinos was nearly driven extinct during the 1990s by habitat destruction and poaching, their population dropping from 65,000 to 2,000 animals.

Protecting the Puerto Rican Parrot
Lincoln Park Zoo is lending its population-planning expertise to help the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot continue on its path to recovery.

ZooRisk
Developed by Lincoln Park Zoo scientists, ZooRisk assists managers in making scientifically based decisions for animal populations.


Avian Reintroduction and Translocation Database
By providing a single source for researchers and wildlife managers seeking information on avian reintroductions and translocations, this conservation resource will enable them to learn from the past to achieve better results in the future.


ChimpDATA
Nearly 500 chimpanzees live in sanctuaries across North America. Lincoln Park Zoo scientists have volunteered their expertise to help sanctuaries manage the lifetime care of chimpanzees while planning for a better future.


PMCTrack
Zoos across the country cooperate on breeding and transfer plans to ensure healthy populations. In developing PMCTrack, Lincoln Park Zoo scientists have made it possible to evaluate the outcome of every recommendation for the first time—improving population planning everywhere.


Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE
There are an estimated 2,200 chimpanzees living in the United States today, more than double the number estimated in their home range country of Tanzania in East Africa. Project ChimpCARE is committed to providing sustainable care for all chimpanzees.


 Produced by Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, this free, interactive iPad children's book shares how chimps should be free to be themselves, from chimp head to chimp toe!

Chimps Should Be Chimps
Produced by Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, this free, interactive iPad children's book shares how chimps should be free to be themselves, from chimp head to chimp toe!


Zoo scientists study chimpanzee health and play in Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall's groundbreaking research.

Gombe Field Research
Lincoln Park Zoo is proud to partner with the Jane Goodall Institute on research projects in Gombe Stream National Park. Zoo scientists take advantage of resources established over nearly half a century to study chimpanzee health and play.


Predicting Capacity for African Ape Sanctuaries
Every year sanctuaries across Africa are inundated with orphaned primates from the bushmeat trade. In partnership with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Lincoln Park Zoo scientists analyzed population trends for African sanctuaries, helping these havens plan for future care.


 

The Impact of Vaccinations on Domestic Dogs
Vaccinating domestic dogs in villages surrounding Serengeti National Park protects people, pets and predators from disease. Zoo scientists are now studying how vaccination affects domestic-dog populations—key information for planning future campaigns.


 

PopLink
PopLink is a computer program developed by Lincoln Park Zoo scientists to track data on individual animals over their lifetimes and use that data to help their management.


A woodchuck burrow  

The Outcomes of Wildlife Relocation
Lincoln Park Zoo is collaborating with the University of Illinois to study woodchuck translocations throughout the region, building a better understanding of translocation's effectiveness as a solution.


The Zoo Animal Health Network stands watch for avian influenza and other infectious diseases. Zoo Animal Health Network

This collaborative effort with the AZA and USDA APHIS helps ensure zoological institutions are prepared for zoonotic diseases—and other emergencies.


Zoo scientists are helping Charles and Lara Foley understand what may be one of the most rapidly growing elephant populations on record. Tarangire Elephant Modeling
In Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, zoo scientists are helping researchers Charles and Lara Foley understand what may be one of the most rapidly growing elephant populations on record.

The Standards for Data Entry and Maintenance of North American Zoo and Aquarium Animal Records Databases provides specific guidelines for data entry into animal records databases for species including sunbitterns

Data Standards for Animal Records Databases
The Standards for Data Entry and Maintenance of North American Zoo and Aquarium Animal Records Databases provides specific guidelines for data entry into animal records databases, improving consisntency and accuracy.


Bird surveys a century apart in Lincoln Park can shed light on the impact of urbanization.

Surveying Lincoln Park's Bird Species 
By comparing bird surveys in Lincoln Park to results from a century ago, Urban Wildlife Institute scientists can shed light on the impact of urbanization. 


The zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute is using non-invasive techniques to study Chicago-area bat species, including big brown bats. Photo by Liam McGuire.

Monitoring Bat Diversity in and Around Chicago
At a time when bat populations across the country are declining, the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute is using non-invasive techniques to study bat species in the greater Chicago area.


Lincoln Park Zoo scientists are using population viability analyses to model the future of zoo and aquarium populations.

Modeling the Future of Zoo and Aquarium Populations
Zoo scientists are analyzing the future of zoo populations by conducting population viability analyses (PVAs) for Association of Zoos and Aquarium Animal Programs such as Species Survival Plans®. PVAs can help animal managers plan for the future and determine which management actions can maintain or increase long-term sustainability.


Zoo caregivers partnered with peers around the world to build a vital database of great ape blood types.

Great Ape Blood Typing
Zoo caregivers have partnered with peers around the world to build a vital database of great ape blood types, information that’s improved veterinary care at zoos and in the wild.

 


By having apes exchange tokens for treats, scientists can study responses to unequal treatment.

Token-Exchange Studies
By having gorillas and chimpanzees exchange tokens for treats, scientists can study responses to unequal treatment. The resulting behavioral economics insights can reveal ape perceptions of inequity.


By observing apes as they use tools, scientists can also understand how they learn and interact.

Ape Tool-Use Studies
By observing chimpanzees and gorillas as they use tools at Regenstein Center for African Apes, zoo scientists can better understand how apes learn and interact with one another.


By observing apes such as gorilla Kwan as they interact with touch-screen computers, Fisher Center scientists can learn more about how these animals think.

Ape Touch-Screen Studies
By using touch-screen computers to monitor chimpanzees and gorillas as they sequence objects and react to the social cues embedded in a glance, zoo scientists can see how apes perceive the world around them.


Every day, zoo researchers use tablet computers to observe and record the activities of chimpanzees and gorillas living at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Monitoring Ape Behavior
Every day, zoo researchers use tablet computers to observe and record the activities of chimpanzees and gorillas living at Regenstein Center for African Apes.


Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to restore the meadow jumping mouse, an important grasslands species, to northern Illinois.

Meadow Jumping Mice Recovery Project
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to restore the meadow jumping mouse, an important grasslands species, to northern Illinois.


By giving ornate box turtle hatchlings a healthy head start at the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restore this threatened species to Illinois.

Ornate Box Turtle Recovery in Illinois
By giving ornate box turtle hatchlings a healthy head start at the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restore this threatened species to Illinois.


A network of 65 “camera traps” lets zoo scientists record gorilla and chimpanzee behavior and tool use throughout the 95,000-acre Goualougo Triangle.

Goualougo Video Lab
A network of 65 “camera traps” records ape behavior in the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle. By analyzing this footage at the zoo, our scientists are revealing new findings about how chimpanzees and gorillas live in the wild.


The African wild dogs at Regenstein African Journey are among the species whose stress levels are monitored to improve conservation and care.

Measuring Stress in Wild Species
By using non-invasive methods to monitor stress hormones, zoo scientists can improve animal conservation and care both at the zoo and around the globe.


Succesful Sichuan takin breeding at Lincoln Park Zoo was boosted by surveys of the species' reproductive hormones.

Timing Animal Reproductive Cycles
By measuring testosterone, estrogen and progesterone over time—the same hormones that guide reproduction in humans—endocrinologists can gain insight into animal reproductive cycles.


Lincoln Park Zoo is working with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Zoo Atlanta to conserve Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas

Environmental Stress in Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas
Zoo scientists work with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Zoo Atlanta to conserve Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas by studying ties between gorilla stress levels and environmental and tourist pressures


Risk Assessment-Based Decision Tree Analysis for the Management of Avian Mycobacteriosis in Conservation Programs
Infectious diseases can impact the health of individual birds as well as populations in captivity, in the wild or during reintroduction efforts. When the disease is chronic and difficult to diagnose, the situation further worsens. Such is the problem of Mycobacterium avium, or avian mycobacteriosis (tuberculosis). This disease is prevalent worldwide in both captive and wild populations. Once infected, an individual may become sick and die or remain healthy while releasing large amounts of viable infectious organisms into the environment, further spreading disease. Prevention and control are hampered by the lack of reliable testing, which results in an overreliance on slow-growing bacterial cultures for disease confirmation and an inability to effectively treat the disease. All of these factors have made this disease highly problematic for those needing to move animals between zoological institutions. As such, a science-based approach to assessing the risk of this disease is highly needed.

In order to address this need, Lincoln Park Zoo’s veterinary (Kathryn C. Gamble, D.V.M., M.S., Dipl. A.C.Z.M., director of Veterinary Services), conservation (Dominic A. Travis D.V.M., M.S., director of the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology), and collection departments (Robyn Barbiers, D.V.M., vice president of Collections and Megan R. Ross Ph.D., interim general curator and Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds) led the development, with a team of avian managers and veterinarians, of an easy-to-use risk assessment tool useful for all avian species and various collection sizes. Its use encourages managers and veterinarians to jointly fill out a survey in Microsoft Access that results in a “risk grade” for the potential of spreading this disease between housing facilities via the shipment of an individual or group of birds. "Risk grades" are set up in a stoplight fashion, resulting in three categories: red (high risk), yellow (medium risk) and green (low risk), with associated management recommendations. It is important to keep in mind that this tool is not meant to provide THE answer, but should be used as a starting point for discussion.

In order to download the tool and associated materials, click on the links below.  These links include the tool in Microsoft Access format (you must have this software to open it); an instruction manual for installing and using the tool—including how to print and open reports; and three example reports, one for each risk level (these report files are in .snp format and must be viewed through Microsoft Access or opened using Microsoft Snapshot software available separately).

Given that there is no such thing as “zero risk,” we hope this tool is useful for making decisions regarding avian shipments in the face of uncertainty. Please feel free to send feedback to any of the project coordinators listed above at Lincoln Park Zoo.  

Avian Mycobacteriosis Risk Assessment Tool v10.11 (Microsoft Access format)

Documentation and Instructions for v10.11 (PDF)

Risk Level Examples: (Note: the example files are in .snp and require Microsoft Access to be viewed. Right click the links below and choose "Save Target As..." in the popup menu.)


Investigation of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Hornbills
The captive population of giant Indian hornbills (Buceros bicornis) consists of only 70 individuals and has experienced seven deaths due to invasive squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that affects the hornbill’s casque (bill). Lincoln Park Zoo veterinary researchers are working to identify potential causes for this fatal illness by systematically sampling captive populations in the United States and Europe and in in situ populations in Asia.