The Minnesota Zoo’s BioDiscovery Project is partnering with the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute to compare their wildlife findings on each zoo’s site. Our BioDiscovery Project Coordinator, Katie Talbott, is excited to announce this partnership and get you all involved as well!

bd1When the snow finally stopped falling last year, the Zoo’s BioDiscovery Project began searching the Zoo’s grounds for wildlife. We looked high and low through the Zoo’s 485 acres of white and red oak forest, bulrush marshes, aspen woodlands, lakes, vernal pools, shrubland, and grasslands in search of native wildlife. We certainly were rewarded for our efforts – we spotted over 20 new species that hadn’t been documented on Zoo site before!

As with all wildlife, the unique mixture of species that call the Minnesota Zoo home is determined by the types of habitat are available. For example, you’re not going to see spruce grouse waddling through the Zoo parking lot; they feed on buds and needles of coniferous trees, and are only found in the northern-most portion of the state.  This leads one to wonder, “what kinds of animals make their homes in the undeveloped portions of other zoos?” To answer this question, we teamed up with Mason Fidino, wildlife management coordinator for the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute!


On Lincoln Park Zoo grounds, Mason spends plenty of time surveying wildlife – everything from birds, to turtles, to rabbits. A 13-acre patch of green in Chicago’s urbanized landscape, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s natural area provides a refuge for a rich diversity of wildlife. Mason’s work documenting this diversity is an important step in understanding the impact of development on wildlife, and determining how humans can strike a balance in sharing their living spaces with native animals.

The BioDiscovery Project’s collaboration with Mason and the Urban Wildlife Institute will begin with comparing the diversity and activity patterns of wildlife captured via trail camera at each zoo. Right now, Mason and I each have four trail cameras up and running; with the help of scent lures (which some say smell like vinegar-flavored chips, although I remain unconvinced!), we hope to compile plenty of data and pictures to share with you soon.

What kinds of differences do you think we’ll see between Mason’s and my trail cameras? Do you exp ect to see different kinds of animals in each area? Do you think the species found in both areas, like raccoons or coyotes, will be equally abundant in each area? Join our Facebook group and tell us what you think!