Join the Minnesota Zoo in connecting people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife by participating in the City Nature Challenge. The CNC is a contest between nearly 60 cities from around the world, to see which can engage the most people in finding and making the most observations of nature in a four day span. The Minnesota Zoo is committed to connecting people to nature and invites you to help the Twin Cities win this friendly competition. Results will be announced on Friday, May 4, may the best city (the Twin Cities) win!

This contest runs from April 27 to April 30, and all observations are captured using the iNaturalist app. iNaturalist is a citizen science app that brings together professional scientists and projects on this social network with citizen scientists and local naturalists and biologists. You can contribute to real science, in a very real way. Every observation is a contribution to biodiversity science. iNaturalist shares your findings to the world that allows scientists to use your data. All you have to do is observe.

You don’t need the help of the Minnesota Zoo to participate in this 4-day challenge, but if you do, naturalists from the Minnesota Zoo’s Education Department will be on-site at the Medtronic Minnesota Trail Bird Deck from 10am-2pm on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 to show guests how to use the iNaturalist app and assist them with the making and uploading of observations, and possible species’ identification.

What to do in four easy steps:

  • Step 1: Create your own iNaturalist account by downloading the free app from the AppStore or Google Play.
  • Step 2: Find wildlife (any plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life, including scat, fur, tracks, shells and carcasses).
  • Step 3: Take a picture of what you find and note the location of the critter or plant.
  • Step 4: Share your observations by uploading your findings through iNaturalist.

What is citizen science you ask? Citizen Science really is just like is sounds. It’s the collection of information by members of the public as part of a project with professional scientists. The Minnesota Zoo uses citizen science to better understand our site and its flora and fauna better, and to engage our students and volunteers in new and deeper ways, while teaching them about the scientific process.

Learn more about our conservation efforts at the Zoo, in Minnesota around the world!