WBEZ | Animals http://www.wbez.org/tags/animals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 The Founding Pets: How animals shaped America's history http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/founding-pets-how-animals-shaped-americas-history-100632 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/457272_464195043605500_1748577632_o.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 200px; " title="Steve Waltien and Katie Rich performing at 'The Paper Machete.' (Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux Photography)" />Most Americans know the major stories that have shaped our history. But few realize that many of these moments involved underappreciated animals.</p><p>&quot;Behind most historical figures at key points in American history are the animals that planted the ideas that changed our society forever,&quot; explains comedian Steve Waltien. At <em>The Paper Machete</em>&#39;s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/432094046811581/">special All-American show</a>, Waltien and associate Katie Rich embodied, among others,&nbsp;Declaration of Independence scribe Thomas Jefferson and his little-known pet cat Brown Sugar. Read an excerpt below or listen below:</p><p><em>Steve: Good afternoon. Katie and I are actors in Chicago and we&#39;ve come here to do what we do best.</em></p><p><em>Katie: Pay tribute to American history. Look at my earrings!</em></p><p><em>Steve: We like to think of ourselves as actors slash educators, or act-ORs.</em></p><p><em>Katie: And it&#39;s our duty to look into American history and shine a light into areas that the white male patriarchical society tends to overlook.</em></p><p><em>Steve: Yes, act-ORs are able to overlook what historical texts cannot. We are able to bring to life on the stage historical figures at important turning points. What really happened and who were the major players in history.</em></p><p><em>Katie: The history books are only written by those who can write! And time and time again, those who cannot write are left out of the conventional narrative.</em></p><p><em>Steve: Animals.</em></p><p><em>Katie: Just because animals cannot write does not mean they do not have rights.</em></p><p><em>Steve: Good one.</em></p><p><em>Katie: Thank you. I&#39;m an act-OR.</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/founding-pets-how-animals-shaped-americas-history-100632 Rare goat has kid at Bloomington zoo http://www.wbez.org/news/rare-goat-has-kid-bloomington-zoo-99418 <p><p>A rare San Clemente Island Goat has given birth to a kid at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington.</p><p><a href="http://bit.ly/KFoMM1">WJBC Radio reports</a> that there are less than 500 San Clemente Island Goats in the world, making it a critically endangered heritage breed.</p><p>Bella is one of four adult San Clemente Island Goats at the central Illinois zoo, and she gave birth to a female kid.</p><p>It&#39;s the second-straight year that Miller Park Zoo&#39;s San Clemente Island Goats have reproduced.</p><p>WJBC reports that the zoo is the only accredited facility in Illinois to exhibit the rare breed.</p></p> Tue, 22 May 2012 09:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rare-goat-has-kid-bloomington-zoo-99418 Chicago-area skunk population raises a stink http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-29/chicago-area-skunk-population-raises-stink-92632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-29/skunks_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There is a slight stench as Brandon Owen steps out of his truck. The biologist is a wildlife technician with ABC Humane Wildlife Control, and his company has captured 687 skunks so far this year in northeastern Illinois — about 200 more than last year.</p><p>Owen and the company's president, Vito Brancato, are on a skunk run in Des Plaines, a suburb near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.</p><p>Brancato determines that an animal they just picked up is a juvenile.</p><p>"We've very lucky in that way, because we're going to at least be able to approach the skunk that is a little less likely to spray," Brancato says.</p><p>This is good news for Brancato, because skunks can spray the oily substance they use to defend themselves up to 15 feet — and their aim is good. Brancato and Owen find the skunk in a small cage in homeowner Richard Kaulback's leafy backyard.</p><p>The animal is small. Its white stripe is visible, but its head is hidden behind the trap door. Skunks are nocturnal animals — it appears to be asleep, and thankfully, its tail is down.</p><p>Kaulback has watched all sorts of wildlife traipse across his yard over the nearly 50 years he's lived in Des Plaines. This year has been a bad year for skunks.</p><p>"This is an ongoing thing all summer," Kaulback says. "Before we had a lot of raccoons, but this is the first time we've had so many skunks. This is the second [or third] skunk we've got."</p><p>Brancato says skunk populations can grow large because they don't really have any natural predators.</p><p>"Their population numbers are only controlled by highways, you know, by cars," he says. "So they do pretty well because they don't really move a lot."</p><p>It's difficult to get a real count on the number of skunks in the state, says Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Bob Bluett. But the department makes a best guess by counting roadkill.</p><p>"We've seen a dramatic increase," Bluett says. He adds that there was a 46 percent increase in the number of skunks from 2009 to 2010.</p><p>Companies licensed by the department to capture skunks snared 8,700 of them across the state last year, most in the Chicago area. Bluett isn't certain why the numbers are up, but skunks in the Midwest are prone to rabies, and there hasn't been an outbreak to lessen their numbers for more than 25 years.</p><p>Even so, any skunk captured in Illinois is euthanized. And because skunk numbers are up, there's more chance of a household pet tangling with one outside.</p><p>"The first thing we tell them is don't let Fido or Fifi inside," says Rebecca Fyffe, of the Wildlife Control Policy Institute.</p><p>Wash them outside with peroxide and baking soda (not tomato juice, as the old wives' tale recommends) and make sure pets have rabies vaccinations. Of course, skunks aren't all bad: They love grubs and help keep the insect population down. And for years, they've even had their own cartoon mascot, Pepe Le Pew.</p><p>But Kaulback says there's nothing adorable about a skunk.<br> <br> "They really stink up," Kaulback says. "Sometimes at night it's really bad out here."</p><p>And that's even with the door closed.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1317333571?&amp;gn=Chicago-Area+Skunk+Population+Raises+A+Stink&amp;ev=event2&amp;ch=1132&amp;h1=Strange+News,Animals,Around+the+Nation,Science,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&amp;c3=D%3Dgn&amp;v3=D%3Dgn&amp;c4=140915703&amp;c7=1132&amp;v7=D%3Dc7&amp;c18=1132&amp;v18=D%3Dc18&amp;c19=20110929&amp;v19=D%3Dc19&amp;c20=1&amp;v20=D%3Dc20&amp;c21=2&amp;v21=D%3Dc2&amp;c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"></div></p> Thu, 29 Sep 2011 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-29/chicago-area-skunk-population-raises-stink-92632 How a clever virus kills a very hungry caterpillar http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-11/how-clever-virus-kills-very-hungry-caterpillar-91846 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-12/caterpillar_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Scientists say they have figured out how a very clever virus outwits a very hungry caterpillar.</p><p>The caterpillar is the gypsy moth in its larval stage, and the invasive species damages roughly a million acres of forest in the U.S. each year by devouring tree leaves.</p><p>But the damage would be greater if it weren't for something called a baculovirus that can infect these caterpillars and cause them to engage in reckless, even suicidal behavior, scientists say. The virus is so effective that the government actually sprays it on trees to help control gypsy moth outbreaks.</p><p>Now a team of scientists thinks they have discovered how the baculovirus takes control of gypsy moth caterpillars. The key is a special gene that's carried by the virus and affects the caterpillar's eating behavior, according to the team's new study in <em>Science</em>.</p><p>The discovery explains a phenomenon scientists have wondered about for decades.</p><p>Normally, gypsy moth caterpillars feed on tree leaves at night when predators including birds and squirrels can't see them. Then during the day, the caterpillars climb down and hide in the tree bark or even under leaves on the ground.</p><p>But caterpillars abandon that sensible strategy when they're infected with a baculovirus, says Kelli Hoover, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University and the paper's lead author.</p><p>"As they get sick they climb up to elevated positions and stay there and die," she says. What happens next is pretty gruesome. "The inside of the caterpillar gets pretty much converted to millions and millions of virus particles, then there are other enzymes that cause the exoskeleton to melt. And that liquefies the caterpillar and then it can rain virus down on the leaves below."</p><p>When other caterpillars eat those leaves, they get infected too.</p><p><strong>A clever pathogen</strong></p><p>Hoover and a team of researchers suspected that the virus was taking control of the caterpillar by using a gene involved in molting, which the gypsy moth larvae must do several times as they grow. The gene also affects eating behavior because in order to molt, larvae must stop eating.</p><p>To test their hypothesis, the scientists infected some caterpillars with a baculovirus that carried the normal version of this gene and other caterpillars with a baculovirus carrying an inactivated version of the gene. Then they put the caterpillars in tall plastic containers lined with a screen.</p><p>"Every time the caterpillars were infected with the normal gene they would die at an elevated position in the container," Hoover says. "If the gene was knocked out, they didn't."</p><p>That's probably because this gene disrupts a hormonal system that tells the caterpillar when to stop eating," Hoover says. "And to feed you need to be up in the tree."</p><p>The result is devastating for the gypsy moth, but great for the virus, says David Hughes, an entomologist and biologist at Penn State and a co-author of the study. So if you look at the world from the point of view of a baculovirus, it's easy to see how it would have evolved to carry this gene.</p><p>"The most important challenge for a virus is outcompeting other viruses," Hughes says. So a virus that could make its host die in a place that spread the infection to other hosts would have a big advantage, he says.</p><p>Other scientists say the finding reveals just how clever a pathogen can be.</p><p>"Who knew that a virus would be able to manipulate the behavior of its host?" says Jim Slavicek, a research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, who also contributed to the new study.</p><p><strong>Virus as a weapon against outbreaks</strong></p><p>Slavicek says knowing precisely how baculovirus overwhelms the gypsy moth could help scientists develop more potent strains of the virus. It could also help them determine when in the gypsy moth's life cycle it is most vulnerable to infection.</p><p>And he says all that could help bring down the cost of spraying with baculovirus. Right now, he says, land managers often use cheaper methods, such as insecticides or a deadly fungus.</p><p>"The advantage of the virus is that it is specific for gypsy moth larvae, and so it will impact no other animal, insect, plant in the treatment zone."</p><p>Gypsy moth outbreaks in the U.S. are less severe than they were a couple of decades ago, thanks to better treatments, Slavicek says. But he says the pest remains a major threat that can leave a forest bare in a matter of weeks.</p><p>During an outbreak, Slavicek says, there are so many caterpillars that their remains make some roads so slippery that road crews have to apply sand.</p><p>And if you drive on those roads at night, he says, "millions of moths will fly to the car and it can be so dense that it's like a snowstorm. You can't see what's in front of you."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 11 Sep 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-11/how-clever-virus-kills-very-hungry-caterpillar-91846