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Ambassador Animal Program Report Released

A family looks at an ambassador animal exhibit

The Forest Preserves of Cook County released its review for our ambassador animal program, including the coyote that lives at River Trail Nature Center, at the Board of Commissioners meeting on July 26, 2022.

This report is part of a strategic planning process for the Forest Preserves Conservation and Experiential Programming department, which is responsible for our six nature centers. Five of these facilities are the home for ambassador animals. Unable to live in the wild, these native reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals help educate tens of thousands of visitors annually.

The report covers current thinking and best practices for caring for ambassador animals and action steps for how the Forest Preserves will modify our current programs and systems. Research included more than a dozen interviews with experts in the care of captive wild animals and peer-agencies that have ambassador animals, as well as a literature review of academic journals.

The care that the Forest Preserves provides is in line with what is needed to ensure animals are safe and healthy. In many cases, our current operations are among the best practices in the field. However, there are also opportunities to improve. With this report, we have a guide to the forefront for ambassador animal care, habitat and programming and can continue to inform the public about the amazing native animals right here in Cook County and the importance of protecting the habitats on which they depend.