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Forest Park Living Lab

As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, studying urban wildlife is critical to protecting and restoring biodiversity. The Forest Park Living Lab brings together St. Louis’s leading experts in ecology and conservation medicine to create a living ecological experiment inside one of America’s greatest urban ecosystems: Forest Park in St. Louis. Together with the greater St. Louis community, we study the health, movement, diversity, and interactions of a rich collection of species right here in the park.

Our Goal

Our goal is to turn the Jewel of St. Louis into a living laboratory that is accessible to all and change the way we think about urban ecosystems. To do this, we are placing telemetry tags on Forest Park wildlife to understand where they go and how they use different areas of Forest Park and the greater St. Louis area. In addition, we collect health data from these animals to understand disease prevalence and the overall health of Forest Park’s wildlife. Our study species are taxonomically and ecologically diverse, including raptors, waterfowl, carnivores, and turtles. We further strive to share Forest Park’s stunning local wildlife with kids and adults across St. Louis through education and outreach programs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Medicine, located within Forest Park, is an integral contributor to the Forest Park Living Lab. Other partner institutions include Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, World Bird Sanctuary, and Forest Park Forever.

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Our Work

  • A Forest Park raccoon gets his teeth checked before placement of a GPS collar.

  • A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in Forest Park with a GPS backpack.

  • Camera traps help us monitor Forest Park wildlife, like this coyote seen with city lights in the background.

  • A Forest Park snapping turtle shortly before release, shown with a newly placed VHF tracking tag on its shell.

  • A Canada Goose in Forest Park wears a solar GPS collar.

  • A barred owl getting a health exam in Forest Park.