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Lincoln Park Zoo awarded $1.5 million grant for new research institute

Chicago, Ill Lincoln Park Zoo has been awarded a grant by The Davee Foundation to establish a new research division, the Urban Wildlife Institute, which will focus studies on the interactions between urban dwellers and wildlife, and utilize sound science to create best practice conflict resolution. The institute aims to integrate landscape and animal ecology with epidemiology research to create a holistic approach to ecosystem health as it applies to urban settings. The goal of the institute is to use Chicago as a model for other urban areas struggling to deal with wildlife relocation, rehabilitation, disease and conflicts.

"Urban sprawl is increasing wildlife and human interactions worldwide and zoonotic disease threats are on the rise," said Urban Wildlife Institute Director Eric Lonsdorf, PhD. "Current solutions for many wildlife conflicts can be extreme, involving extermination or relocation. Our goal is to integrate science with people's values to find more pragmatic solutions. People are also becoming increasingly exposed to zoonotic disease threats such as West Nile Virus, rabies and Avian Influenza; it's important to understand the interactions between people and nature so that real solutions can be established."

"We are very grateful for the support of Lincoln Park Zoo's scientific-based conservation initiatives," said Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO Kevin J. Bell. "Thanks to the foundation's generosity in the past, the zoo created a world-class epidemiology and endocrinology center and now serves as an important national leader in the surveillance and monitoring of emerging zoonotic diseases. With this recent generous gift, the zoo is able to tackle the issues of human and wildlife conflict in the face of urbanization, develop scientifically-proven solutions and help Chicago serve as a role model for other cities."

The Urban Wildlife Institute is composed of scientific experts in landscape ecology, population biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, veterinary medicine and more. While still in the early developmental stages, the institute has wasted no time in launching a couple pilot projects including a study investigating the prevalence of raccoon roundworm with the goal of creating management strategies to mitigate risk to humans, as well as a study on avian nest predation with the goal of improving urban habitat for birds.

Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute will also be enlisting local partners for conservation projects and plans to create community-involved citizen scientist programs in the year ahead.


Contact: Sharon Dewar
Lincoln Park Zoo

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