This Week in the Wild: Fox Cubs and Wolf Cubs Show Chicago’s Wild Side from Different Angles | chicago news

A family of foxes has taken up residence in Chicago's Lurie Garden.  (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)A family of foxes has taken up residence in Chicago’s Lurie Garden. (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)

For a group of die-hard urbanites, Chicagoans have a soft spot for animals.

They don’t even have to be cute, sorry Chance and Chonk, but they do help, as we saw this week when the town went wild over a family of foxes living in Lurie Garden.

The kits are adorable, to be sure, but a big part of their appeal has also been the surprising discovery by many that there are foxes in Chicago. Add the creatures to the coyotes, beavers, mink, opossums, marmots, and muskrats that are finding the habitat they need in the middle of a huge metropolis.

Staff at Lurie Garden and Millennium Park have seen adult foxes before, but a family with six cubs is the first time, said Kathryn Deery, the garden’s head of horticulture.

“We are delighted that the Fox family has chosen Lurie Garden as their home base. Through our plant choices and responsible management practices, Lurie Garden has been working to build a healthy ecosystem for many years,” Deery said. “Our resident fox family is an indication of the garden’s success as a haven for humans and wildlife alike.”

Play time for foxes at Lurie Garden.  (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)Play time for foxes at Lurie Garden. (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)

While foxes are a prime example of the saying “nature finds a way,” it’s also true that sometimes nature needs help. And Chicago is here for that too.

Brookfield Zoo just shared photos of a litter of seven Mexican wolf pups born at the zoo in late April. But don’t get too fond of the beauties: Six of them have already been placed in wild herds in Arizona and New Mexico, as part of Brookfield’s involvement in a program to save subspecies from the brink of extinction and diversify the gene pool. at the same time.

A count conducted over the winter estimates a 23% increase in the wild population in 2022 over 2021. According to Brookfield Zoo officials, this marks the seventh consecutive year of population growth and more than doubling in size since 2017. .

Seven Mexican wolf pups were born at the Brookfield Zoo in April.  After receiving checkups, six of them were introduced to wild herds in Arizona and New Mexico.  (Courtesy of CZS-Brookfield Zoo)Seven Mexican wolf pups were born at the Brookfield Zoo in April. After receiving checkups, six of them were introduced to wild herds in Arizona and New Mexico. (Courtesy of CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

This is what caught our attention the most this week.


Speaking of Lurie Garden, the New York Times has an interesting interview with Piet Oudolf, whom the Times identifies as “high line designer notable.” And Lurie Garden. For Chicagoans trying to incorporate more native plants into their home gardens, Oudolf has some pertinent thoughts on the difference between creating a garden that benefits the environment and working on ecological restoration.

“If I were an ecologist working on a landscape, I would never use a non-native, because it doesn’t belong. But we make gardens; we do not make nature. We make gardens, and in the gardens I think I can use the plants that I like,” Oudolf said. But he was quick to add: “Plants should not be invasive or overly competitive with their neighbors.”

Watch the video below to see Lurie’s appearance among Oudolf’s greatest hits.


Sticking with our theme, if you thought Mama and Papa Fox made an unusual choice for a Lurie Garden base of operations, a pair of Peregrine Falcons have just entered the conversation.

For the second year, Freyja and Apollo nested on top of the Michigan State football stadium. The pair successfully hatched four chicks, Pickles, Muhammad, Egbert and Swooper, which researchers banded this week to track the birds’ progress.

Banding falcon chicks is tricky business, and the team of scientists protected themselves from the potentially territorial parents by wearing helmets and wielding umbrellas as shields.


OK, this one has nothing to do with foxes. But it is tangentially related to Chicago.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on negotiations related to the use of the Colorado River because, well, don’t touch our Great Lakes.

So we were pleased to read that California, Nevada and Arizona have reached a tentative agreement to reduce their respective faucets. Vox has an excellent explainer on the agreement and the topic in general.


A gang of orcas, following a ringleader named White Gladis, is sinking ships in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Scientists believe White Gladis suffered some form of boat-associated trauma, retaliated, and other orcas took notice.

Some researchers have suggested that the killer whales could be enjoying themselves.

“They are incredibly curious and playful animals, so this could be more play than aggressive,” Deborah Giles, an orca researcher at the University of Washington and the nonprofit organization Wild Orca, told Live Science.

Sure, maybe, but they’re called killer whales for a reason.

One more

Why? Why not. Enjoy Memorial Day weekend.

Foxes, living their best life in the big city.  (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)Foxes, living their best life in the big city. (Courtesy of Lurie Garden)

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]