Utilizing Lincoln Park Zoo’s diverse scientific specialties, the Urban Wildlife Institute studies the interaction between urban development and the natural ecosystem to develop scientific standards for minimizing conflict between these overlapping areas. Landscape ecology, population biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, veterinary medicine and other core disciplines contribute to an increased understanding of ecosystem health in an urban setting. The Urban Wildlife Institute aims to use Chicago as a model for urban areas struggling to deal with wildlife relocation, rehabilitation, disease and conflicts.
One issue receiving special emphasis is the transmission of disease from animals to humans—another byproduct of urban sprawl. By studying how people and animals interact in an urban setting, the Urban Wildlife Institute can help scientists to better understand—and curb—zoonotic disease threats such as West Nile virus, rabies and avian influenza.
Supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Davee Foundation, the Urban Wildlife Institute is forming partnerships with local nature and conservation organizations and conducting pilot studies into ecosystem health and human-wildlife interaction. By developing standards for managing urban wildlife issues, the institute is creating a conflict-management model that can be followed worldwide.
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Operational support for the Urban Wildlife Institute is generously provided by The Davee Foundation.