Stories by Evan Garcia

Young Hospital Patients, Staff Help Name Shedd Penguin Chick

After Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago patients, families, staff and volunteers took part in a voting contest last week, the 10-month-old penguin previously known as Chick No. 23 is now called Diego.

Animal ‘Selfies’ Captured in Amazon Rain Forest by Field Museum

The Field Museum recently captured some unusual animal portraits with motion-activated cameras in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest.

Over 150 Countries Sign Paris Climate Change Pact on Earth Day

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signs the Paris Agreement on April 22. (@JohnKerry / Twitter)

The terms of the historic global pact were agreed upon by 195 countries on Dec. 12, 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, but Friday – Earth Day – marks the first day of the yearlong signing period.

Another Corpse Flower to Bloom at Chicago Botanic Garden

If all goes as planned, the Chicago Botanic Garden is about to get very stinky in the next few days. That’s because Sprout, a titan arum–also known as a corpse flower–is very close to blooming.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin Gives Birth at Shedd Aquarium

(Courtesy Shedd Aquarium)

Shedd Aquarium staff are watching a 28-year-old female Pacific white-sided dolphin and her newborn calf around the clock during what they call "a very crucial time."

For Tree Specialist, Only Plants with ‘Good Behavior’ Make the Cut

Less than half of the plant life found in the Chicago region is native to the area. As the Morton Arboretum's tree improvement specialist, it's Joe Rothleutner's job to make sure those native plants are protected.

Second Snow Monkey Born at Lincoln Park Zoo This Year

The snow monkey, born on Wednesday, has since clung tightly to 11-year-old mother Ono. Zoo employees have not yet named it or determined its sex. Maureen Leahy, the zoo’s curator of primates, said they prefer to give mother and infant plenty of space at this stage.

Mayor Creates Rodent Task Force, Adds More Rat Control Crews

Appearing at the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced initiatives to respond to the city's growing rat problem.

Save the Monarch Butterfly: Plant Milkweed

The population of the monarch butterfly – seen here in Chicago's Grant Park – has declined by more than 80 percent over the past two decades. One recent study claims the lack of milkweed in the Midwest is a contributing factor. (Oriol Gascón)

Their annual migration from North America to Mexico has been called “one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world,” but the monarch butterfly is not only in decline – it’s closer to extinction than previously thought, research shows.

Chicago to Build 50 Miles of ‘Better Bike Lanes’

Chicago's first protected bike lane was installed on Kinzie Street in June 2011. On Monday, the city announced plans to design new bike lanes and improve existing ones. (Chicago Bicycle Program / Flickr)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday unveiled a new plan to build 50 miles of "better bike lanes" in the city over the next three years. 

More Pileated Woodpeckers: Emerald Ash Borer or Healthier Habitat?

In recent years, pileated woodpeckers have been noticed more frequently in areas closer to Chicago, an urban setting they generally avoid. (Joshlaymon / Wikimedia Commons)

Recent news coverage has suggested a spike in pileated woodpecker sightings in the western suburbs may be linked to the emerald ash borer. But according to at least two wildlife experts, it probably has more to do with the restoration of local habitat.

What's That Sound? Distinctive Birdcalls Heard in Chicago

You don't have to be an expert birder or ecologist to enjoy songs and calls from native and foreign birds in Chicago this time of year. Here's what to listen for.

New Climate Change Exhibit Educates Kids, Encourages Action

A new interactive exhibit on climate change at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum addresses “the defining issue of our time,” says Steve Sullivan, senior curator of ecology at the museum. 

Wild Badger Implanted with Tracking Device in Cook County

Badgers are known for their elusiveness: the mostly solitary animals travel and forage at night, moving from one place to another very quickly. But wildlife biologists recently got lucky and caught one in northwest Cook County.

Chicago’s Rat Infestation A ‘Real Problem’ Says Mayor Emanuel

Rat complaints are on the rise, according to city data. Find out what Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) are doing to address the issue.

World's Largest Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility Tackles Chicago River

The notoriously polluted Chicago River is about to get cleaner with disinfection technology at a Skokie water treatment facility.

Why Are Monk Parakeets Leaving Hyde Park?

Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood has long been a haven for the bright green monk parakeet, but its presence – and recent decline – is shrouded in mystery.

Dog Owners Warned of Raccoons Infected with Canine Distemper

An outbreak of canine distemper has infected a record number of racoons in Cook County, putting dogs at risk of contracting the highly contagious virus.

Presidential Front-Runners Trump and Clinton Win in Illinois

Donald Trump is the winner in Illinois, gaining 24 delegates in the state's Republican presidential primary. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton eked out a close victory over Bernie Sanders.

Critically Endangered Black Rhino Celebrates Milestone at Lincoln Park Zoo

Maku the eastern black rhino is one of less than 1,000 such animals living on Earth due to decades of poaching. Today he turns 30.

Spring is Almost Here: Stop and Smell the Flowers at These Events

It’s official: The first day of spring, March 20, is less than two weeks away. Chicago is gearing up for warmer weather and blossoming flowers with gardening and horticulture events in the area.

After Blackface Controversy, Chiditarod Cracks Down on Costumes

This weekend's festive Chiditarod shopping cart race will raise thousands of dollars and pounds of food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, but organizers this year are making special efforts to prevent teams from dressing in offensive costumes.

Polar Plunge This Weekend: Tell Your Alderman to Go Jump in the Lake

15th annual Polar Plunge (Special Olympics Chicago)

It’s that time of year again, when brazen Chicagoans, some donning outrageous costumes, brave the icy waters of Lake Michigan for a good cause. The 16th annual Polar Plunge benefiting Special Olympics Chicago takes place on Sunday at North Avenue Beach.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Leap Day

February 29, better known as leap day, only comes around every four years. The observation of this extra day of our calendar year has some interesting history.

New Cancer Predictor Found by Northwestern Scientists

There's a new way to measure age that might prove helpful in assessing an individual's risk of developing cancer, according to a recent Northwestern University study. Learn about epigenetic age and how it can impact your health.