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Stories by Alex Ruppenthal

Field Museum Archaeologist Solves Clues to 12th Century Shipwreck

Model of the Java Sea shipwreck, built by Nicholas Burningham (John Weinstein / The Field Museum)

After taking a fresh look at a treasure trove of cargo recovered from the dark sea floor in the 1980s, researchers make new discoveries about a centuries-old shipwreck.

Special Exhibit Showcases 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy Chicago Park District and Chicago History Museum)

“From Swans to Science: 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo” takes visitors on a journey through the zoo’s 150-year history, which started with a gift of four swans in 1868.

Brookfield Zoo Rhino Has Life-Saving Surgery, 2nd CT Scan

Michelle Soszynski, a senior veterinary technician at Brookfield Zoo, monitors Layla, a 7.5-year-old eastern black rhinoceros, as she receives a CT scan inside Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Following a historic diagnostic procedure last month, Layla, a 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros, underwent life-saving surgery last week to relieve an infection.

Field Museum Researcher Identifies New Shrew Species in Philippines

An illustration of the newly identified Palawan moss shrew. (Velizar Simeonovski / The Field Museum)

A mole-like mammal known as the Palawan moss shrew was recently discovered in the Philippines by a team of researchers – including one from Chicago.

Shedd’s New Penguin Chick Hatches Just In Time For Mother’s Day

A Magellanic penguin chick hatched May 12 at Shedd Aquarium. (Courtesy Shedd Aquarium)

A new Magellanic penguin chick hatched Saturday at Shedd Aquarium, just hours before Mother's Day. 

‘You Have to Protect Us’: Residents Speak Out About Manganese Pollution

(Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

About 100 Southeast Side residents attended the first public meeting addressing exposure to neurotoxic manganese since the city became aware of it in 2016. “How are you going to keep us healthy?” one resident asked.

Máximo the Titanosaur to Debut June 1 at Field Museum

(Courtesy The Field Museum)

The enormous dinosaur cast replacing Sue the T. rex at the Field Museum will be here in just a few weeks. And the new resident now has a name.

PETA Awards CPD After Officer Saves Chicken Stuck Inside Plastic Bag

A “chicken in distress” call last month led to an unusual rescue effort in Lincoln Park – and an award for the Chicago Police Department.

EPA to Test Soil for Manganese on Southeast Side

A week ago, test results from soil samples collected at two dozen Southeast Side homes revealed high levels of manganese. Now, the EPA will conduct further testing in the area.

Shedd Vet in Madagascar to Treat 10,000 Confiscated Tortoises

(Dr. Matt O’Connor / ©Shedd Aquarium)

A Chicago-based animal care expert is playing a key role in an unprecedented effort to save thousands of critically endangered tortoises that were found in squalid conditions in an abandoned home off the southeast coast of Africa.

Chicago Zoo, Brewery Partner on Beer to Help Parrots Hurt by Hurricane

(Tanya Martinez / Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources)

One of the world’s most endangered birds finds itself in even greater peril after a hurricane ripped through its habitat last year. But you can help – by drinking beer. 

Lisa Madigan Challenges Proposal to Lower Fines for Automakers

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (Chicago Tonight file photo)

A group of 13 attorneys general are speaking out against a Trump administration proposal to reduce penalties for automakers that violate fuel efficiency standards. 

Shedd Scientists, Volunteers Track Migrations of Great Lakes Fish

(Karen Murchie / ©Shedd Aquarium)

Why more than two dozen volunteers have been tracking migrations of white and longnose suckers, an often overlooked family of fish. 

Illinois Senate Passes Bill to Protect Environmental, Labor Standards

(Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr)

A bill moving through the state legislature would prevent the weakening of federal safeguards that were in place as of Jan. 1, 2017 – about three weeks before President Donald Trump took office.

High Levels of Manganese Found in Soil of Southeast Side Homes

(Google Maps)

Test results from soil samples collected at 27 homes near a bulk storage facility along the Calumet River reveal high levels of manganese.

Durbin, Duckworth Urge EPA to Dump Proposal for Weaker Coal Ash Rules

Piles of coal ash after a 2008 spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee. (Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons)

A group of U.S. senators are trying to preserve regulations for the disposal of coal ash generated by coal-burning power plants, a mixture that can pollute drinking water if disposed of improperly. 

Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp Passes Illinois Senate

(kat_geb / Flickr)

Agriculture advocates say industrial hemp would offer Illinois farmers an additional crop – one with a lucrative future.

Bill to Create Urban Agriculture Zones Passes Illinois House

(Linda from Chicago / Creative Commons)

A bill aimed at breaking up food deserts in Chicago and other cities across the state by establishing “urban agriculture zones” moved forward last week in Springfield.

Shedd Aquarium Welcomes 6 Wood Ducklings

(Brenna Hernandez / ©Shedd Aquarium)

New residents of the aquarium’s “At Home on the Great Lakes” exhibit are spending their first days bonding with their mother. 

At Nearly 7 Feet, Corpse Flower Spike Sets Botanic Garden Record

(Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden)

Remember Spike the corpse flower? The plant made famous in 2015 for being the first of its kind to (nearly) bloom in Chicago is on the comeback trail – and climbing to new heights.

Brookfield Zoo Performs CT Scan on 2,300-Pound Black Rhinoceros

(Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society)

Hoping to identify the source of an infection, veterinarians performed what is thought to be the first ever CT scan on a rhinoceros.

Adler to Honor NASA Volcanologist With Women in Space Science Award

Rosaly Lopes (Twitter)

A conversation with NASA research scientist Rosaly Lopes, who will be recognized this week at an event celebrating women in space science. 

Scientists Discover ‘Suicidal’ Octopus Colonies Near Ocean Floor

(Phil Torres and Geoff Wheat / The Field Museum)

A team of scientists was exploring a rocky patch of ocean floor when they found something that shouldn’t have been there: octopuses – lots of them.

Chicago Gets ‘F’ Grade in 2018 Air Pollution Report

(Creative Commons /  © 2013, Jeremy Atherton)

Chicago is the country’s 22nd most polluted city, according to a new study of air pollutants by the American Lung Association. 

White Sox to Ditch Plastic Straws at Guaranteed Rate Field

(redlegsfan21 / Wikimedia)

In an effort to reduce plastic waste, the White Sox have become the first team in Major League Baseball to get rid of disposable straws for nearly an entire season.

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