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Shedd Aquarium Conservation Work Restores Chicago Area Wetlands, Native Species | ‘An Ocean on the Lake’ Episode 4

By on July 19, 2021 0
Cook County, Illinois (WLS) – Conservation work at Shedd Aquarium takes place both inside and outside the walls of its 10-acre campus. While part of this work takes Shedd staff to the Great Barrier Reef and other remote areas of the world, much of the conservation takes place in the Chicago area.

“These wetlands are sort of biodiversity hotspots in our own backyards,” said field biologist Melissa Youngquist, who works in the Cook County Forest Reserves. “And so it is very important that we preserve these … natural wonders.”

In the wetlands that surround Chicago, native species have been forced to adapt to a human-made environment. Youngquist focuses on monitoring the health of amphibians and reptiles in regional forest reserves.

Beyond surveillance, Shedd is also home to several start-up programs to rebuild animal populations of endangered species. DuPage County Forest Reserves are rebuilding the state-threatened Illinois Blanding’s Turtle population through start-up programs in Shedd and other zoos in the area.

“I grew up in the Chicago area. I grew up with the DuPage River in my backyard, ”said senior veterinarian Dr. Matt O’Connor, who is part of the Blanding’s Turtle Assistance Program. “So it’s amazing to give back to the community and help raise some of these turtles.”

This is only part 1 of the episodes of Shedd in the Wild; The second part will take viewers down the Chicago River to observe local fish species.

“Shedd In The Wild” is episode four of “An Ocean On The Lake,” the multi-part behind-the-scenes series from ABC 7 Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. This segment examines the local conservation work that researchers and veterinarians do to revive native species and support entire ecosystems. Find each episode on our home page for “An Ocean On The Lake”, or watch on our ABC 7 Chicago smart TV app.

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