Red wolf pup in exhibit Red wolf pup in exhibit

Live Wildlife Friendly

Humans have a profound impact on the world around them. In rural areas, farmland fragments the natural ecosystems that support native species. In suburban areas, natural areas may be integrated into housing or cleared for development. And in cities, large swaths of concrete, shifted food resources, light and noise pollution, traffic, and other factors create human-wildlife conflicts that threaten a wide range of species, from bats and coyotes to pollinators and birds. Still, these same cities are the fastest growing ecosystems on the planet. Chicago, for example, has tremendous biological diversity thanks to its location along a migratory bird pathway and integration with green open spaces. Regardless of where you live, small choices can make a big impact on local wildlife.

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Wild red wolf

Observe Don't Disturb

Observe wild animals without feeding or touching them. Keep wildlife safe by keeping your distance.

Wild raccoon climbing down a trees. image captured by motion-activated field camera.

Participate in Chicago Wildlife Watch

Scientists are only just beginning to get a picture of which species live in cities and why. Through Chicago Wildlife Watch, you can help Lincoln Park Zoo identify animals from all over the city from your own computer or phone. This information helps planners design cities that function better for humans and wildlife.

Wild shorebird picking through mud.

Limit Your Footprint

When visiting natural areas, gardens, and the beach, stay on the path to avoid stepping on plants and disrupting wildlife. When traveling between areas, ensure that shoes and recreation equipment are clean of soil, seeds, and other unwanted hitchhikers to avoid the spread of disease or invasive plants.

Trumpeter swan swimming through exhibit, with dozens of smaller birds swimming in the background

Stash Your Trash

Urban animals can grow dependent on garbage—if it’s accessible. Check your garbage cans or dumpsters for holes or other damage. If there’s a problem, either replace your garbage containers or contact your city or waste disposal company to fix the issue.

Birds in exhibit

Build Wildlife Habitats

Turn your yard into a wildlife habitat. Planting native plants, like milkweed, can help wildlife thrive, and adding trees and shrubs creates a diverse, multi-layered habitat. If you don’t have a yard, you can garden in planters on your deck. Or, you can reach out to your local schools or community gardens, which might make a space for other species in your neighborhood. Plants benefit the ecosystem no matter where they grow.

Design element with the words "Take Action With Us"

Spread the Word

Tell friends and family, both in conversation and on social media, how small lifestyle changes benefit local wildlife. Follow the zoo’s social media channels to see relevant updates on how you can Take Action With Us, and share those updates on your channels.

Our Work

Caring for Local Wildlife

Lincoln Park Zoo’s Animal Care staff care for several local wildlife species. During warmer months, the zoo even hosts a colony of wild black-crowned night herons that live in the treetops above Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.

Managing Nature Boardwalk

The zoo manages Nature Boardwalk, a fully functioning ecosystem completed in the summer of 2010, by removing invasive species and conducting an annual floristic survey, which allows Horticulture staff to optimize plant diversity. This lush, natural, prairie-style garden is filled with native plants and brimming with birds, frogs, fish, turtles, insects, and other wildlife. Our Urban Wildlife Institute and Learning team use this space as a living laboratory and classroom for studying local wildlife.

Studying Local Wildlife

The Urban Wildlife Institute and Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology study local carnivores, bats, small mammals, birds, and other wildlife. Their work has revolutionized conservation strategies for wildlife around the world.

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External Resources

  • Leave No Trace outlines ways to limiting your footprint.
  • The Native Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder suggests native, wildlife-friendly plants for your garden, containers, or neighborhood garden space.