Stories by Alex Ruppenthal

Chicago Expands Investigation of Manganese Sources on Southeast Side

The city will monitor soil and air pollution near residents’ homes and begin increased inspections of industrial sites. 

Chicago Health Department Examines Rust-Colored Stains Linked to Manganese

An overhead photo of S.H. Bell's Chicago facility appears to show rust-colored stains from manganese handled by the company. (Google Maps)

A Chicago neighborhood once permeated with black dust from uncovered piles of petroleum coke now faces another toxic pollutant, but one that is not as visible or widespread.

ZooBrew Set For Aug. 25-26 at Brookfield Zoo

(Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)

Sample more than 80 beers while taking in the zoo’s wildlife and nature at the sixth annual event.

A Day After Lawsuit, EPA’s Pruitt Backtracks on Delaying Pollution Rules

(Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said he does not believe in “regulation through litigation,” but his stance appears to be subject to change.

2 Plains Zebras Debut at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Lincoln Park Zoo)

The young males belong to a highly social zebra species and will eventually share a habitat with the zoo’s giraffes. 

Toxic Metals Study Examines Kids’ Toenails on Chicago’s Southeast Side

Chicago researchers are looking for lead, manganese and other metals that could affect lung function in children with asthma. 

Durbin to CDC: Investigate Manganese Risks on Chicago’s Southeast Side

The Illinois senator is calling on federal environmental and public health regulators to conduct a new assessment of toxic pollutants in one of the city’s most industrialized areas.

Cash for Carbon: Paying People to Conserve Trees Works, Study Finds

A first-of-its-kind study shows that giving people a financial incentive to save trees is an effective strategy for fighting climate change.

Shedd Researchers: Shark Eats Fishing Spear, Pushes it Out Through Skin

(© Joanne Fraser)

Just in time for “Shark Week,” researchers published a study this month that highlights the unique recovery capabilities of sharks.

Adler Astronomer Discovers Previously Invisible Star Formations

(NASA)

A team led by Adler Planetarium astronomer Grace Wolf-Chase used a telescope instrument to discover infrared light undetectable to the human eye, revealing new stars in the Milky Way. 

Shedd Unveils 1,600-Pound Seahorse Sculpture Made From Ocean Garbage

(©Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

Stella the Seahorse is the first of 19 marine animal sculptures made from plastic debris on display at Shedd Aquarium. 

Behind the Scenes at Lincoln Park Zoo’s New Penguin Encounter

Aje, a 2-year-old male penguin at Lincoln Park Zoo. (Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo)

For the first time, Lincoln Park Zoo is offering visitors a chance to get up close and personal with their African penguins. We meet three waddling, webbed-feet bachelors.

2 California Sea Lion Pups Debut at Brookfield Zoo

(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

After spending their first weeks learning to swim and bonding with their mothers, Lucy and Taylor make their public debut.

Durbin Pushes for Release of Plan to Keep Asian Carp Out of Great Lakes

A hefty Bighead carp, one of several types of Asian carp, caught in a net near Morris, Illinois. (Evan Garcia / Chicago Tonight)

A plan to fortify a barrier against Asian carp was set to be released in February but has been stalled by the Trump administration. 

Report: Ameren Looking to Circumvent New Illinois Energy Law

(Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr)

Efficiency plans filed by Ameren Illinois fail to comply with the state’s new energy law and could prevent the creation of additional jobs, according to a new report. 

New Series ‘All My Penguins’ Captures Drama of Zoo’s Penguin Colony

(Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park Zoo recently launched a web series to chronicle the latest crushes, power struggles and other dramatic twists and turns surrounding the lives of its 15 African penguins.

Project Examines Pregnancy in Illinois, Cook County Prisons

Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population in the U.S., but data on pregnancies and births in prisons is either outdated or nonexistent. Illinois is now among 22 states participating in the first large-scale, comprehensive study of pregnancy in American prisons.

Snowy Owl Chicks Hatch at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Lincoln Park Zoo)

Visitors can expect snow flurries on their next trip to the zoo, even in the middle of summer. Four snowy owl chicks hatched last month are already flapping their wings and will soon attempt to fly. 

Adler Planetarium Offering Free Admission for Aug. 21 Solar Eclipse

(USDA Forest Service)

Are you ready to party like it’s 1925? That’s the last year Chicago experienced a solar eclipse like it will next month. To celebrate, the Adler Planetarium is hosting a daylong block party, and you’re invited.

Chicago Astronomer to Create Plan for Human Exploration of Mars

(NASA)

Adler Planetarium astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz will spend the next year figuring out how humans can get along while exploring one of the more curious planets in our solar system: Mars. 

Rare Duck Species Arrives at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Four webbed-feet members of a rare and endangered duck species have a new home in Chicago.

Shedd Takes Aim at Plastic Bottles in New US Effort to Cut Pollution

First went the plastic bags, then the plastic straws. Now they’re coming for more. The Shedd Aquarium announces a new initiative to significantly reduce or eliminate the use of disposable plastic bottles by 2020.

IDOT Official Fired After Allowing Unlicensed Pilot to Fly State Helicopters

A senior state transportation official allowed an unlicensed pilot to fly state helicopters multiple times over the course of nearly 10 years, according to a newly published report from the state’s top watchdog.

Frogs Get Stress Test in Lake County Habitat Study

(Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Dan Nedrelo)

Life as an amphibian is no easy hop through the woods. Why Chicago scientists are measuring levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in Lake County frogs.

Zoo’s Condom Giveaway Brings Awareness to Endangered Species

(Center for Biological Diversity / Lori Lieber and Shawn DiCriscio © 2015)

Lincoln Park Zoo will give away hundreds of condoms this week as part of a nationwide outreach program to draw attention to the link between human population and endangered species.