Meadow Jumping Mice Recovery Project

A meadow jumping mouse is examined at Lincoln Park Zoo by Dr. Lester E. Fisher Director of Veterinary Medicine Kathryn Gamble, D.V.M.

Restoring a Grassland Species to Northern Illinois

Meadow jumping mice are native to northern Illinois, but recent wildlife monitoring efforts by the Lake County Forest Preserve District have found it to be locally rare and potentially in decline. As a result, Lincoln Park Zoo is working with the Forest Preserve District to assess—and restore—this important grassland species to its native habitat.

Like many grassland species, the meadow jumping mouse is impacted by habitat loss. Most native grasslands have been converted to agriculture in northern Illinois, and roads and development have fragmented the remaining landscape. The Lake County Forest Preserve District is working to restore grassland habitats and wildlife species—a complex process.

How is Lincoln Park Zoo assisting the jumping mouse recovery? Zoo biologists conduct surveys to assess where mice are present across preserves and to estimate population sizes and survival rates. These scientists visit each site multiple times throughout the active season and “ear tag” each mouse they encounter to identify them. They also use radio collars to track the released mice as they explore and adapt to their new homes.

Mice have also been brought to Lincoln Park Zoo where animal care experts at the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo have established a zoo breeding colony to support future reintroduction efforts. As you’d imagine, it’s tough for these tiny mice to make the trip to recolonize restored habitats in the wild. As a result, it’s necessary to boost the recovery process with careful reintroductions. Without these conservation actions, it’s possible that remnant populations of meadow jumping mice could be lost from Lake County in the future.

Staff and Collaborators

Lincoln Park Zoo


Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Ph. D.
Reintroduction Biologist, Urban Wildlife Institute


Seth Magle, Ph. D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute


Diane Mulkerin
Curator, Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House and Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo


Dan Boehm
Zoological Manager, Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House and Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo

Lauren Carlson is the lead keeper at the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo  

Lauren Carlson
Lead Keeper, Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo


Lake County Forest Preserve District

Lake County Forest Preserve District
Tim Preuss, Wildlife Biologist
Jim Anderson, Natural Resource Manager

About Meadow Jumping Mice

A meadow jumping mouse at Lincoln Park Zoo  

The meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius intermedius) is a small, primarily nocturnal rodent that inhabits grassland-dominated habitats, typically close to water. Its large hindfeet and long tail enable it to move with a large bounding motion to escape predators.

Species like meadow jumping mice play an important role in the grassland ecosystem by dispersing seeds of native plants. The meadow jumping mouse is active from mid-to-late April into October, hibernating much of the year.

Learn More

A meadow jumping mouse is readied for the first release in July. Photo by Sharon Dewar.

Post from the President--Repopulating the Prairie
A meadow jumping mouse release is part of the zoo’s work to repopulate Illinois’ prairies, President and CEO Kevin Bell shares.