WBEZ | Animals http://www.wbez.org/tags/animals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en State ballot initiatives: from animal trafficking to marijuana legalization http://www.wbez.org/news/state-ballot-initiatives-animal-trafficking-marijuana-legalization-113636 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1103_ohio-voting-624x410.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95443"><img alt="A voter casts his ballot at Orange High School in Moreland Hills, Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (Tony Dejak/AP)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1103_ohio-voting-624x410.jpg" style="height: 407px; width: 620px;" title="A voter casts his ballot at Orange High School in Moreland Hills, Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (Tony Dejak/AP)" /><p>On this off-year election, voters in a number of states will decide on ballot initiatives.</p></div><p>In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thepostathens.com/news/ohio-s-marijuana-legalization-ballot-issue-could-cause-legal-clash/article_10c4dcc4-80db-11e5-8645-33bff0634486.html" target="_blank">Ohio</a>, the legalization of marijuana is at stake. In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/us/washington-state-weighs-far-reaching-law-on-animal-trafficking.html" target="_blank">Washington State</a>, the trafficking of animal products from endangered species, and in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/mississippi-voters-decide-schools-funded/" target="_blank">Mississippi</a>, how public schools are funded.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/underhillwendy" target="_blank">Wendy Underhill</a>, program manager for elections at the <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/" target="_blank">National Conference of State Legislatures</a>, joins&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now&#39;s</em> Robin Young to take a look at state ballot initiatives.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/03/state-ballot-initiatives" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Wed, 04 Nov 2015 12:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-ballot-initiatives-animal-trafficking-marijuana-legalization-113636 Abandoned but no wasteland: Chernobyl offers animals room to thrive http://www.wbez.org/news/abandoned-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-thrive-113301 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/babyeagles.JPG" style="height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="Baby spotted eagles open wide for the camera in the Polessye State Radioecological Reserve in Belarus. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><p>When you think of a nuclear meltdown, a lifeless wasteland likely comes to mind &mdash; a barren environment of strewn ashes and desolation.</p><p>Yet nearly 30 years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, a very different reality has long since taken root.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elk.JPG" style="height: 371px; width: 560px;" title="A family of elk rove the forests. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></p><p>In and around Chernobyl, wildlife now teems in a landscape long abandoned by humans. The area has been largely vacant of human life since 31 people died in the catastrophe and cleanup.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s well-established that when you create large reserves and protect wildlife from everyday human activities, wildlife generally tend to thrive,&quot; says Jim Beasley, a researcher at the Warnell School of Forestry at the University of Georgia.</p><p>He and a team of fellow researchers embarked on a study of the Chernobyl exclusion zone &mdash; specifically, the sector that rests on the Belarusian side of the Ukraine-Belarus border.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/exclusion%20zone.JPG" style="height: 374px; width: 560px;" title="A house, long since abandoned and fallen into disrepair, stands in Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone. The area is still avoided by humans — but animals are thriving. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></p><p>They aimed to better understand how animal populations had been affected by the world&#39;s worst nuclear meltdown.</p><p>&quot;Our study specifically looked at mid- to large-size mammals,&quot; Beasley says, &quot;so everything from hare- or rabbit-sized animals, wild boar, moose &mdash; everything up to apex predators like wolves.&quot;</p><div id="res447251800" previewtitle="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/09/wild-boar-in-village-valeriy-yurko1_custom-8de868e23e7fc9398d437f168d0ab8ed7cc655fb-s300-c85.jpg" style="float: right; height: 257px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><div><p>They wanted to see just how resilient these mammals were &mdash; and their data came back with a clear pattern: populations have resisted decline, and in many cases even flourished.</p></div></div><p>&quot;None of our three hypotheses postulating radiation damage to large mammal populations at Chernobyl were supported by the empirical evidence,&quot; Beasley and his co-authors concluded in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)00988-4">paper they published</a>&nbsp;recently on the topic.</p><p>Now, that&#39;s not to say the animals themselves are healthy or not. Beasley is careful to note that their study did not look at particular health effects in the mammals. And, as for humans, Beasley cautions that we shouldn&#39;t get ahead of ourselves there, either. His findings have little to say about how safe the area is for humans to return.</p><p>&quot;Humans are much more long-lived than wild animals,&quot; he says. &quot;So I would be cautious to extrapolate those findings to humans.&quot;</p><p>But they did come to one clear conclusion.</p><p>&quot;What our study does suggest is that even if there are potential subtle genetic effects&quot; from the lingering radioactivity in the area, Beasley says, &quot;those effects are greatly overshadowed by the impacts humans have on the environment.&quot;</p><p>In other words, it may be a radioactive wasteland, still unsafe for humans, the simple fact of their absence has helped open the door for other mammals to flourish.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ponies.JPG" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="A herd of ponies in the brush. Researchers studying large mammals in the area around Chernobyl found robust population numbers. (Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/10/447202281/abandoned-but-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-to-thrive?ft=nprml&amp;f=447202281" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sat, 10 Oct 2015 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/abandoned-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-thrive-113301 EcoMyths: Animals speak with accents too! http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-animals-speak-accents-too-113162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Whales.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-c5a7af8c-29d7-b539-15df-81fa9f3b70fb">Animal communication has been observed and documented for centuries, but only recently, have studies shown that we&rsquo;ve only scratched the surface of understanding this complex world of grunts, barks and howls. For our </span><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a></em> segment, Kate Sackman and Beth Kosson of <a href="http://www.EcoMyths.org">EcoMyths Alliance</a>, will join Bill Ziegler, senior vice president of Animal Programs at <a href="https://www.czs.org/Chicago-Zoological-Society/Home.aspx">Brookfield Zoo</a>. They&rsquo;ll teach us about the noisy world of animal talk and how deciphering their languages can aid in conservation efforts.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/226311051&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:20px;"><em><strong>See the new EcoMyths PSA (Airing on Comcast)</strong></em></span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oD01Vo_EYWQ" width="640"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-animals-speak-accents-too-113162 What does the Lincoln Park Zoo do with all its poo? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/curious-city-secrets-lincoln-park-zoos-poo-100260 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204249224&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This report expands on reporting we started when we first visited this question in 2012. The audio story includes interview excerpts from the Curious City Fecal Matters! live event of March 2015.&nbsp;</em></p><p>There&rsquo;s a natural cycle to urban life that can&rsquo;t be ignored; as the snow melts away and the citizenry emerges from winter burrows, residents spend more time outdoors, and with that, there&rsquo;s more opportunity to ponder the animals&rsquo; rhythms and cycles, including the less seamly ones.</p><p>Chicagoan Kelley Clink reflected on life&rsquo;s natural processes, particularly as she potty-trained her pup two springtimes ago. She wondered how poop management worked on a larger (Ok, institutional) scale, and she then sent us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/33">What happens to all the, um, &#39;animal waste&#39; from the Lincoln Park Zoo?</a></em></p><p>&ldquo;My dog at the time was pooping in various places,&rdquo; Clink said. &ldquo;Sometimes I&rsquo;d pick it up and throw it in a dumpster, and sometimes if he pooped on my rug I&rsquo;d take some toilet paper and flush it inside. So it made me think, &lsquo;Gosh, with all these animals are they flushing it? Putting it in the dumpster? Where is it going?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Well, the answer can be summed up like this: Lincoln Park Zoo tosses the poo, it studies the poo, and it stores the poo (in the hopes of studying the poo even more someday). That may not be returning poo to &ldquo;the great cycle of life,&rdquo; but it&rsquo;s how the stuff is dealt with, regardless. If you can hold your nose for a short bit, here are the details.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Toss it</span></p><p>The first thing to note is that zoo poop is not so easy for journalists to access, so you&rsquo;re spared first-hand accounts of the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes scraping, shoveling and the like. The Lincoln Park Zoo tells us raw animal waste is considered biohazardous, so we could not actually go anywhere near it to follow its journey.</p><p>But, the Lincoln Park Zoo confirms that the bulk of the animal waste is pretty much handled like garbage; it&#39;s hand-removed by staff, thrown into dumpsters or bags, and compacted along with all the other garbage, according to General Curator Dave Bernier. He says the zoo uses a waste management company to cart everything away.</p><p>Some zoos have opted to<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjfNVEvRI3w"> use the feces for composting</a>, even <a href="http://www.zoo.org/page.aspx?pid=2001">selling the material as fertilizer</a> in their gift shops for use in home gardening. Bernier said he&#39;s heard talk of doing similar things at Lincoln Park, but he says there are some considerable barriers to doing so. He said it would require hiring staff and the park currently doesn&#39;t have space or a back-lot for such an operation. Besides, Bernier said, &quot;We have a hard time getting people to like the smell of our aardvark, I can&#39;t imagine they&#39;d like this feces brewing somewhere.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What can you do with zoo poo? Study it!</span></p><p>But the old heave-ho doesn&rsquo;t apply to the zoo&rsquo;s entire supply of animal feces. Dave Bernier says a portion of the poo is studied for insights into the animals&rsquo; physical and emotional well-being. In some respects, Bernier says, the zoo treats feces as a &quot;management tool&quot; to monitor animal health. For example, zoo keepers look for obvious changes in the consistency, color or amount of feces animals produce.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8%20CAMELS.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Normal Bactrian Camel waste should look like chocolate-glazed donut holes, explains Bernier. When one of the camels had a loose stool, the zoo studied its fecal matter and learned it was eating too much of the free-growing plant foliage. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe) " /></div><p>Bernier says that a few years ago the zoo &quot;had a camel that had loose stool. Normally they&#39;re well-formed pellets of stool &mdash; just think of chocolate-glazed donut holes.&quot; He explains that staff looked into that camel&#39;s diet and realized it was eating too much of the free-growing plant material in its space.</p><p>&quot;So we ended up cutting back some of the plants they could reach in their exhibit and then their stool normalized again,&quot; he said.</p><p>But the zoo keepers take an even closer look at feces, too, performing diagnostic tests in an on-site laboratory.</p><p>Rachel Santymire, director of the zoo&rsquo;s Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, oversees and studies about 10,000 poop samples a year from about 50 animal species at the zoo. Santymire says each sample is a clue into an animal&rsquo;s emotional health.</p><p>&ldquo;Animals can hide certain behaviors,&rdquo; Santymire said. &ldquo;I can look inside the animal &mdash; they can&rsquo;t lie to me! &mdash; and I know exactly how they&rsquo;re reacting to whatever they&rsquo;re encountering &hellip; all from poop.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, Santymire can tell whether an animal is pregnant by detecting changes in its hormonal levels. She can also get a sense of whether an animal feels stressed out &mdash; all by looking for the hormone cortisol.</p><p>Bernier says those fecal tests can be used to make important decisions, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10888705.2011.576968">such as changing an animal&#39;s living situation</a>.</p><p>&quot;I had a singly-housed female antelope which normally lives in groups and she seemed perfectly fine. But she was alone because her cage-mate had recently passed away,&quot; Bernier said.</p><p>He wondered if introducing another antelope to her cage would ultimately be a positive change, or if it would stress her out. They tested the theory by slowly introducing a new antelope friend. All the while, staff collected and tested samples of both animals&rsquo; feces &mdash; before the introduction and after it. Bernier said the cortisol levels spiked and then dipped after the introduction.</p><p>&quot;But ultimately both of their stress hormone levels went down below their baselines when they were together,&quot; Bernier said. He adds that, without this kind of testing, staff could not have known whether it was a positive or negative change because the animals showed no outward signs of stress.</p><p>&quot;Animals are meant to mask any kinds of injuries illnesses or deficiencies because a lot of them are prey animals or have to survive in a social setting,&rdquo; Bernier said.</p><p>But, as zoo staff often say: Hormones don&rsquo;t lie.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Institutional poo hoarders</span></p><p>With about 10,000 poop samples a year making their way through Santymire&rsquo;s lab, you&rsquo;d suspect she has a complex storage system for all that waste; however, Santymire says the setup&rsquo;s quite simple. It involves refrigeration. And lots of it.</p><p>First, the animal care staff collects samples from the animals like you might pick up after a dog, using sealed, plastic bags. The staff puts those samples in refrigerators all around the zoo, and Santymire collects the new material every month. She then weighs out portions of the poop, shoves them into test tubes, and then places the tubes into carefully labeled boxes, according to species. Santymire says each box holds 100 poop samples, and she&rsquo;s got 10 standard, 21-cubic-foot freezers full of poo boxes.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lpzoo%20strorage.jpeg" style="height: 278px; width: 620px;" title="The zoo's endocrinology lab studies about 10,000 poop samples a year and stores them in 10 freezers throughout the grounds. (Photo courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)" /></div><p>Why keep all that poop at the ready? Well, Santymire says, it stays fresh for a long time, making the samples good material for follow-up questions she comes up with.</p><p>&ldquo;Instead of throwing away samples when we&rsquo;ve published our results, I look at the tubes and say, &lsquo;Wow, I can ask and answer another question with these poop samples. I cannot throw them away. I admit it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The kicker: What are the grossest offenders?</span></p><p>Questioner Kelley Clink wasn&rsquo;t just interested in the Lincoln Park Zoo poo&rsquo;s ultimate destination. She tossed us a quick follow-up that we couldn&rsquo;t resist: Which animal is the worst to clean up after?</p><p>We put the question to both Santymire and Bernier.</p><p><strong>Santymire&rsquo;s nominee: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_cat" target="_blank">The Fishing Cat</a></strong></p><p>&ldquo;Imagine a cat that eats mostly fish. If you boil the feces you can clear out the fecal lab,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;No one wants to be around when you&rsquo;re working on fishing cat poop.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fishing%20cat.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Attis1979)" /></div><p><strong>Bernier&rsquo;s pick: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_hippopotamus" target="_blank">The Pygmy Hippo</a></strong></p><p>&ldquo;Special note on the hippos ... They&rsquo;re the messiest of all animals,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because our hippos here are a river species &mdash; they&rsquo;re pygmy hippos. So they advertise their territory with feces. But instead of just dropping the feces, they use their tails like a propeller and they spray it all over the place.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://i.imgur.com/LPGeFb1.gifv#embed" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: right;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jXMeo4a4k" target="_blank"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">(Shawn O&#39;Dell/YouTube)</span></span></a></p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>. Jennifer Brandel founded Curious City, and is now expanding the project as <a href="https://twitter.com/Curious_Nation" target="_blank">Curious Nation</a>. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/jnnbrndl" target="_blank">@jnnbrndl</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 06 May 2015 18:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/curious-city-secrets-lincoln-park-zoos-poo-100260 Where do Chicago's bats hang out? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-do-chicagos-bats-hang-out-110578 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/bats/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BATS%20TOPPER%20FOR%20WEB5.jpg" title="" /></a></div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/161019975&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-do-chicagos-bats-hang-out-110578#bio">Rory Keane</a> was ambling around Chicago&rsquo;s downtown a few years back when he stumbled upon what looked like a piece of fried chicken glistening on the sidewalk. But it didn&rsquo;t take long for him to be disabused.</p><p>&ldquo;I saw it twitch real quick,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The next thing I knew, it grew wings and it was flying around my ankles and then right past my face.&rdquo;</p><p>It was a bat, in broad daylight, just doing its bat thing downtown. Soon after, Rory collected himself from fright and submitted these questions to Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How many bats are in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop? What are their favorite hangouts?</em></p><p>Spoiler alert: Our experts say we can&rsquo;t pinpoint exactly how many bats call the Loop home. Nor can we locate particular buildings the critters like, either. (Alas, someone else will have to explore whether the <a href="https://www.flickr.com/search/?l=commderiv&amp;q=wrigley%20building%20chicago" target="_blank">gothic tower atop the Wrigley Building </a>acts a bat-magnet). But experts<em> can </em>say which types of environments Chicago&rsquo;s bats like to hang out in and how popular those sites are.</p><p>The takeaway is that these furry fliers are likely closer than you think. And, beyond that: All this bat activity&rsquo;s a good sign, given that there&rsquo;s an ominous threat to their very existence.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Where local bats <em>aren&rsquo;t</em></span></p><p>In 2012 researchers at the Lincoln Park Zoo&rsquo;s Urban Wildlife Institute embarked on a study to measure the Chicago-area bat population. They wanted to learn more about which bat species call Chicago home (or were at least recurring squatters), gauge their numbers and determine their favorite haunts, all with the hopes of keeping close tabs on bat species affected by the fatal spreading disease called &ldquo;<a href="https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/" target="_blank">White Nose Syndrome</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>By 2013, the scientists had set up 18 bat detectors in various habitats around Cook and Kane counties: forest preserves, golf courses and at the Lincoln Park Zoo&rsquo;s Nature Boardwalk. As much as we hate to let Rory down, none of these detectors was in the Loop.</p><p><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/bats/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/eastern-pipistrelle-little-guy.png" style="float: right; height: 116px; width: 180px;" title="An eastern pipistrelle." /></a>That&rsquo;s for several reasons.</p><p>The first one: Bats probably aren&rsquo;t hanging out downtown. Liza Lehrer, a research coordinator at UWI, says bats might fly through the Loop looking for food, but likely wouldn&rsquo;t make a home in urban infrastructures like skyscrapers. But if we were to try to pinpoint a bat hangout in the Loop, Lehrer says, be on the lookout for older, cozier buildings with lots of nooks and crannies.</p><p>&ldquo;They like old churches, barns, things like that &mdash; areas with lots of older architecture with attics that are easy to get into through roofs,&rdquo; Lehrer says. &ldquo;Maybe the Bucktown, Wicker Park areas, but I&rsquo;m sure anywhere around the city where they can use those spaces they&rsquo;re probably using them.&rdquo;</p><p>Lehrer says it&rsquo;s hard to put a number to how many bats hang out in urban infrastructure. But she wouldn&rsquo;t be surprised if there were 1,000 or more bats living in older Chicago neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;Maternity colonies can have hundreds of individuals in one colony,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s very possible there are thousands in the Chicago area for sure.&rdquo;</p><p>The second reason why UWI didn&rsquo;t place bat detectors in the Loop has to do with sound.</p><p>Julia Kilgour, a former UWI bat researcher, says the sheer noisiness of the Loop makes it a bad environment to pick up bat calls, and it&rsquo;s even noisier for the bats themselves.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sonobat.jpg" title="A screenshot from Sonobat software that shows bat call frequency and species. Researchers can use this to determine how active certain sites are. (Photo courtesy UWI)" /></div><p>If you were sick the day they talked about <a href="http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/bat2.htm" target="_blank">echolocation</a> in school, here&rsquo;s how bats navigate the world. Their eyesight isn&rsquo;t so hot, but their hearing is. Bats send out ultrasonic calls, which bounce off trees, buildings and prey. They listen to these echoes to locate who and what is around them.</p><p>Echolocation is not a problem in quiet, rural areas; but in dense, urban areas like the Loop, bats have a harder time pulling it off.</p><p>Rory himself was on to that explanation: &ldquo;I imagine if I&rsquo;m a chic urban bat and looking for a place to live, the Loop would be accommodating ... but it would be noisy.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size: 22px;">Where the bats </span><em style="font-size: 22px;">are</em></div><p>UWI researchers had plenty of other locations to gather data from; they&rsquo;ve analyzed thousands, if not millions, of bat calls gathered from forest preserves and golf courses around the Chicago area. Liza Lehrer says she&rsquo;s counted up to 3,000 calls from one detector in a single night.</p><p><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/bats/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/forgotten bat 2.png" style="height: 242px; width: 180px; float: left;" title="A silver-haired bat" /></a>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s really exciting about what we&rsquo;ve found so far is we see a lot of bats in Chicago, both in urban and rural areas,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We actually see more bats using Cook County sites in the height of the summer, but out in rural areas we saw more consistent numbers.&rdquo;</p><p>Another interesting finding? Bats really like golf courses.</p><p>&ldquo;You may not consider that an area for wildlife, but there&rsquo;s lots of bat diversity in golf course sites,&rdquo; Lehrer says.</p><p>Golf courses aren&rsquo;t as dense as the city&rsquo;s forest preserves and typically contain a small body of water, so they appeal more to tree-roosting bats, such as the hoary bat and the eastern pipistrelle.</p><p><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/bats/" target="_blank">(To see a breakdown of favorite bat habitats around Chicago, check out our visualization by artist Erik Rodriguez, based on research provided by the UWI).</a></p><p>But the finding Lehrer says she&rsquo;s most excited about is that all seven species common to Northeastern Illinois have been detected at the <a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/nature-boardwalk" target="_blank">Lincoln Park Zoo&rsquo;s Nature Boardwalk</a>, a mere three miles north of the Loop.</p><p>&ldquo;[Bats are] living right here in Chicago, right in the middle of the city, right here at the zoo,&rdquo; Lehrer says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re fortunate to have an amazing array of green space in the city so they&rsquo;re able to take advantage of that as much as possible.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The dreaded white-nose</span></p><p>Finding all seven bat species so close to a dense metropolis is especially exciting, Lehrer says, because several species are directly threatened by <a href="https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/" target="_blank">white-nose syndrome</a>.</p><p>A bat afflicted by the white fungal disease can wake up early during winter hibernation. Affected bats become active right when nature designed them to conserve energy and do as little as possible: when food stores are low and temperatures are dangerous. Lehrer draws an analogy that Chicago-area residents can certainly relate to. &ldquo;If you think about if you emerged from hibernation during our polar vortex,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;there&rsquo;d be nothing for you to eat. It&rsquo;d be very difficult for you to survive if you were a bat. So, thats what&rsquo;s happening. They emerge from wintering spots and aren&rsquo;t able to survive or find food.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/bats/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LITTLE BROWN BAT WEB.jpg" style="height: 430px; width: 620px;" title="Little brown bat populations, illustrated above, have been decimated by white-nose syndrome in the northeastern U.S., but researchers have detected bat calls from them at the Lincoln Park Zoo's nature boardwalk." /></a></div><p>Since white-nose syndrome spreads when bats are hibernating in close proximity, Lehrer says, &ldquo;some caves have found up to 90 to 100 percent mortality.&rdquo; According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the disease has killed millions of bats across the U.S. and Canada. There have been <a href="https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/resources/map" target="_blank">confirmed sightings</a> in Illinois, as well as several neighboring states.</p><p>The disease is <a href="https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/about/bats-affected-wns" target="_blank">hitting some bat species harder than others</a>. Of the seven species that call the Chicago area home, the big brown bat (<em>Eptesicus fuscus</em>), the little brown bat (<em>Myotis lucifugus</em>), and the tri-colored bat (<em>Perimyotis subflavus</em>) have been susceptible.</p><p>The UWI study is one effort to monitor bat populations, health and behavior while scientists find cures for the disease.</p><p>So while bats may be on the top of the list of scary creatures for many Chicagoans, the scarier proposition is that there would be no bats left. At least, that&rsquo;s how Rory Keane feels about it.</p><p>&ldquo;When you come across something really puzzling like WNS &hellip; it&rsquo;s troublesome,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;If it spells the end for bats it&rsquo;s just one more fixture in the ecosystem that&rsquo;s going to throw things out of balance for us as we experience it every day.&rdquo;</p><p>He points to a scene most Chicagoans can relate to. &nbsp;</p><p><a name="bio"></a>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re driving down Lake Shore Drive and it&rsquo;s a clear day and you can see the skyline in front of you,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;you marvel at the success we&rsquo;ve built up around us. &hellip; But could it have all worked out without the contributions of even these tiny, erratically-flying, illogical mammals we call bats?&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rory%20mug%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 199px; width: 200px;" title="(Photo courtesy Rory Keane)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Rory Keane</span></p><p>Chicagoan Rory Keane got us looking into bat habitat a few years after he nearly stomped on one that was hanging out in the Loop. A graduate from Northwestern&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism, he&rsquo;s worked as an English teacher in China and is currently working as a digital marketer in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I guess you could characterize me as a curious person,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I have a little bit of a curiosity when it comes to travel and seeing the world from a different perspective.&rdquo;</p><p>So, he&rsquo;s no stranger to new experiences, but he still didn&rsquo;t expect to get a new perspective from that one, tiny bat in his hometown.</p><p>&ldquo;It was already an incredibly precious encounter given that you would never expect it,&rdquo; Rory says of the eastern red bat he nearly squashed. &ldquo;It took a bat to startle me into realizing what was going on around me [in the natural world] on an everyday basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Did we mention Rory also does a fantastic Werner Herzog impression? You gotta listen to his speculations on what life as a Chicago bat is like:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/161020052&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JnnBrndl" target="_blank">Jennifer Brandel</a> is Curious City&#39;s senior producer and <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">Logan Jaffe</a> is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer. Bat and habitat illustrations by <a href="http://www.erographics.com/">Erik Nelson Rodriquez</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-do-chicagos-bats-hang-out-110578 Chicago's long-forgotten zoo http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 <p><p><a name="video"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="340" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ELIFciqVEFs" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Our question comes from John Lillig, a resident of the West Ridge neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. The location is important to this story in that he&rsquo;s intimately familiar with the nearby Indian Boundary Park. It&#39;s a place, he says, where he once could take his child to visit a tiny zoo that housed a llama, a bear, and other animals. In recent years, the zoo comprised a goat, a handful of chickens and some ducks.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/John_Lillig.JPG" style="float: right;" title="John Lillig’s interest in historical neighborhood zoos was sparked by the closure of a tiny zoo at Chicago’s Indian Boundary Park. " /></p><p>As the summer closed, the Chicago Park District shuttered the zoo and relocated the animals to the flagship Lincoln Park Zoo. But before all this came to pass, John&rsquo;s curiosity had been piqued, and he sent along this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>With the rumored closing of the Indian Boundary Park zoo, I was wondering about the history of that unusual neighborhood zoo and wondering what other zoos may have existed in Chicago other than Lincoln Park Zoo (or Brookfield Zoo). I have heard that Indian Boundary Zoo is the only remaining neighborhood zoo of what were once several neighborhood zoos. Is this true? What other zoos have existed in Chicago, where were they located, and what is there now?</em></p><p>As there had been a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/west-ridge-residents-angry-over-zoo-plans-108180">coverage of Indian Boundary this year</a>, we took on the latter half of his question. It&rsquo;s a good thing, too, since the answer required some digging.</p><p>Thankfully, John was able to provide a solid lead. He once taught literature classes, he says, and would use the <em>AIA Guide to Chicago</em> as source material. He noticed that the entry on Indian Boundary Park mentioned that it was the only<em> remaining</em> neighborhood zoo, which suggested there had once been others.</p><p>Several experts we consulted &mdash; including some who contributed to the AIA guide &mdash; didn&rsquo;t know of of any other neighborhood zoos. But, it turns out, there had been one.</p><p><strong>The West Side&rsquo;s lost zoo</strong></p><p>Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach directed us to Union Park, located at 1501 W. Randolph St.</p><p><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/GarfieldParkZoo/GarfieldPark.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GParkThumb.jpg" style="float: left; height: 290px; width: 400px;" title="Click to see this design map, which shows that a zoo had also been planned for Chicago’s Garfield Park. According to Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach, park districts balked at the high cost of operating neighborhood zoos, especially after Lincoln Park Zoo proved so successful. (Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" /></a>We met Bachrach there, against the backdrop of kids playing on the playground and people jogging. During a short tour, she explained what the park was like in the late 1800s, and how, like many American parks at that time, it had a zoo or, more accurately, a menagerie.</p><p>&ldquo;It really was looked at like a collection of animals, something to entertain the people who came to use the park,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They weren&rsquo;t at all thinking about the needs of the animals or what it would take to take proper care of them.&rdquo;</p><p>So, with Bachrach&rsquo;s good graces, and help from the Chicago Park District, the Chicago History Museum and the ghost of an urban bear, we produced <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago%E2%80%99s-long-forgotten-zoo-108844#video">this video profile</a> of the West Side&rsquo;s long-forgotten zoo.</p><p><em>Image credits: Thanks to the Chicago Park District for permission to film at Union Park and for access to historical images posted in the facility&rsquo;s field house.</em></p><p><em>Scanned images courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. They include:</em></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>Visitors at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26321</em></li><li><em>Two men and a bear at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26322</em></li><li><em>Map of Union Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1912. From the book Maps of the Parks under the jurisdiction of West Chicago Park Commissioners:&nbsp;ICHi-68171</em></li><li><em>Map of Garfield Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1885. O. F. Dubuis, Landscape Architect:&nbsp;ICHi-68170</em></li></ul><p><em>Katie Kather is an arts and culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ktkather">@ktkather</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" rel="author">Shawn Allee</a> edits Curious City, which you can follow <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">@WBEZCuriousCity</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 Herd of goats, llamas, sheep and burros are grazing around the O’Hare grounds http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-07707cd9-7e20-3f9e-2c35-610b395b0a92">A herd of goats, burros, sheep and llamas are chewing their way through the grounds of O&rsquo;Hare International Airport in Chicago. The Chicago Department of Aviation showed off their latest &ldquo;employees&rdquo; this week, though the animals have been at work, clearing the vegetation around the airport for almost a month.</p><p dir="ltr">The group of 14 goats, five sheep, three burros and two llamas will graze inside fenced areas around the airport at least until the end of 2014. Officials say the animals were brought to the airport as a sustainable way to clean up the dense scrub vegetation that covers much of the grounds.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It gets pretty rocky under here,&rdquo; said Rosemarie Andolino, CDA commissioner. pointing to a five-acre field of grass and brush behind her. &ldquo;And there (are) areas where it kinda goes up and down and lawnmowers in many cases don&rsquo;t provide or aren&rsquo;t adequate to get to some of these areas.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats13.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Three of O’Hare airport’s latest hires explore their new workspace. The burros are part of a herd of 25 animals that will eat vegetation around the airport to help maintain the grounds. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Andolino said the contract for the goats won&rsquo;t exceed $19,500, and it expires by the end of 2014. The commissioner didn&rsquo;t have estimates as to how much it cost to maintain the grounds before the animals, yet a spokeswoman maintained there may be some cost savings down the road.</p><p dir="ltr">The herd won&rsquo;t be eating at the same spot everyday &mdash; Andolino says they&rsquo;ll move around to different places on the airport&rsquo;s grounds, depending on need. As for concerns about the animals during brutal Chicago winters, officials say the herd will only be out as long as weather permits.</p><p dir="ltr">Most of the animals in the O&rsquo;Hare herd come from Settler&rsquo;s Pond &mdash; a shelter for abandoned animals in Beecher, Ill. &mdash; but four of them were originally owned by Joseph Arnold, head of Central Commissary Holdings, LLC. The airport contract isn&rsquo;t technically their first job: Arnold&rsquo;s four goats used to provide milk for the goat cheese served at Chicago restaurant <a href="http://butcherandtheburger.com/">Butcher and the Burger</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats17.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="A day-old lamb stays close by her mother at their new home, the O’Hare International Airport. They’re part of a herd of animals eating its way around the fields at O’Hare. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />Though they might seem an unlikely sight among the security fences and planes flying overhead, the burros, goats, sheep and llamas Tuesday seemed to make themselves quite at home. One of the sheep even gave birth to a lamb Tuesday, and all the animals gathered around to greet him.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little boy and his name is O&rsquo;Hare,&rdquo; said Pinky Jenota, one of the caretakers from <a href="http://www.settlerspondshelter.net/about.html">Settler&rsquo;s Pond</a>. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s doing great, he was up suckling on mom, planes flying overhead. He didn&rsquo;t flinch, Mom didn&rsquo;t move - everybody&rsquo;s content.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">For now, the herd will continue munching around a five acre space on the airport grounds. Officials say they should finish that section in the next few weeks, and then it&rsquo;s on to the next spot.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a> .</em></p></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 Brookfield’s baby dolphin dies suddenly http://www.wbez.org/news/brookfield%E2%80%99s-baby-dolphin-dies-suddenly-108368 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP178379265245.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Staff at Brookfield Zoo are mourning the sudden death of a newborn dolphin. The female calf was nearly a week old. She was born to a 26-year-old dolphin, Allie, one of three Brookfield dolphins who were pregnant this summer.</p><p>The baby weighed around 40 pounds at birth and measured 3 feet long. At the time, Brookfield staff said the baby was healthy and strong. But by Wednesday, veterinarians started seeing signs that the baby, who was not named, wasn&rsquo;t well. According to Dr. Michael Adkesson, Vice President of clinical medicine at the Chicago Zoological Society, the calf seemed weak, and the frequency and duration of nursing with her mother began to decline.</p><p>Adkesson says the first days of a dolphin&rsquo;s life are extremely critical, and studies have shown that deaths of young calves in the first 30 days of their life account for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations in the world.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not an animal like a primate where the mom&rsquo;s able to carry the animal around, or a tiger or a lion where it&rsquo;s able to be tucked back in a den,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The animals really come out in the water and have to really be able to go from the first minute of birth.&rdquo;</p><p>Dolphins have to learn skills like swimming, eating, breathing and how to nurse right after birth. These are skills Adkesson says Allie was correctly teaching her offspring, but the baby&rsquo;s health still continued to decline.</p><p>Veterinarians tried to intervene, including using CPR and other tactics, but they the dolphin died early Thursday.</p><p>Adkesson says Allie is doing well, health-wise, but that it&rsquo;s hard to tell if or how she&rsquo;s dealing with the loss.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s difficult for us to really know that, in terms of how much they grieve, &ldquo;he said. &ldquo;Obviously, we know they&rsquo;re very intelligent animals, but as far as the level of emotion that they feel, it&rsquo;s not something that we can really speak to.&rdquo;</p><p>The calf&rsquo;s autopsy report is expected to come back next week.</p><p>For now, Brookfield Zoo staff is focused on its two other mothers-to-be, and the two, hopefully healthy, babies that will be swimming alongside them in the water this fall.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 15:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/brookfield%E2%80%99s-baby-dolphin-dies-suddenly-108368 Baby giraffe makes debut at Brookfield Zoo http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/baby-giraffe-makes-debut-brookfield-zoo-103981 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/baby%20giraffe%202.jpg" style="height: 930px; width: 620px;" title="(Courtesy of the Brookfield Zoo)" /></div><p>A baby giraffe has made his debut at Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago.</p><p>Zoo officials say the baby boy was born Nov. 12 but didn&#39;t go on public display until Wednesday. His mother is five-year-old Arnieta and his father is four-year-old Hasani. The baby boy weighs 140 pounds and is six feet, two inches tall.</p><p>The baby is the 58th giraffe born at Brookfield Zoo. Zoo officials say it&#39;s an important birth because he is the first offspring for Arnieta and Hasani. Hasani arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2010 and is on a breeding loan from Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kan.</p><p>Giraffes give birth standing up after 14 1/2-month-long gestation period.</p><p>When fully grown, the baby could potentially be 18 to 19 feet tall.</p></p> Thu, 22 Nov 2012 08:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/baby-giraffe-makes-debut-brookfield-zoo-103981 Charges filed against Aurora bird hoarder http://www.wbez.org/news/charges-filed-against-aurora-bird-hoarder-103716 <p><p>Misdemeanor animal hoarding charges have been filed against an Aurora man whose home was filled with more than 400 birds.</p><p>The DuPage County state&#39;s attorney&#39;s office said Tuesday that 57-year-old David Skerberdis was ordered to appear in court Dec. 4.</p><p>The charges come after Aurora authorities last month investigated a report of multiple birds visible in Skerberdis&#39; home.</p><p>Authorities say that along with 478 birds, Skerberdis&#39; home contained mounds of garbage, bird feces and bird seed, and had potentially hazardous mold counts.</p><p>Skerberdis started collecting birds seven years ago, and he acknowledges his bird collecting got out of control.</p><p>Skerberdis could face six months in county jail if convicted of the hoarding charges.</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 09:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/charges-filed-against-aurora-bird-hoarder-103716