Lincoln Park Zoo unveiled a new logo Thursday that zoo leaders said captured their vision of a future in which urban environments coexist peacefully with nature.
The zoo also announced formation of the Urban Wildlife Information Network, which will pool research from its Urban Wildlife Institute with seven other cities. The zoo’s researchers have been studying the patterns of Chicago’s wildlife through sensor-triggered cameras and audio equipment for six years.
A goal of the network is to collect data that will help architects and city planners create space amenable to both humans and animals.
“With the creation of UWIN, this data set will expand exponentially, which will represent the world’s largest urban wildlife monitoring infrastructure,” said Seth Magle, who leads the zoo’s research efforts and will head the network.
The zoo will export its methods to university-based research programs in seven other cities: Denver, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Fort Collins, Colorado, Indianapolis, Madison, Wisconsin, and Manhattan, Kansas.
Magle, 37, has placed wildlife snooping equipment in golf courses, cemeteries and parks all over the Chicago area.
“We’ve been trying to understand Chicago’s local species, how they may come into conflict with humans and how we can build smarter city’s that can protect more animals and allow people and wildlife to coexist,” he said.
“The data will help us understand where human/wildlife conflicts emerge or not, like how do animals decide where to cross roads. And if we can predict where those road crossings will happen, we can — at a minimum — put up signage but maybe in a better case do underpasses or something like that,” Magle said.
“And we’ll be able to share notes and compare data, like how raccoons in Chicago behave compared to ones in Los Angeles,” he said.
The zoo — which had 3.6 million visitors in each of the last two calendar years — is funding the research through philanthropic grants.
Magle became interested in urban wildlife while walking home one night in Colorado, where he grew up and attended college.
“I encountered a raccoon inside a pizza box on the sidewalk and he kind of looked at me like, ‘You’re going to have to cross the street.’ And it just posed for me a bunch of questions about urban wildlife.”
He did some academic digging and found a lack of information.
“I thought ‘How funny that a wildlife biologist will spend thousands of dollars to fly to Africa or Australia to study these exotic species,” Magle said, “and meanwhile in their own backyard there’s a system that’s undiscovered, unexplored.”
At an unveiling ceremony next to a statue of a bronze lion at the zoo’s east entrance, marketing chief Amanda Willard explained the design of the new logo and the accompanying tagline: “For wildlife. For all.”
“At the top the you can see an abstract icon that’s meant to evoke these environments that we need to create for wildlife to thrive in an urbanizing word,” she said.