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Niabi Hosts Another Endangered Species

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Joel Vanderbush, Niabi Zoo
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

The Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley is helping to conserve yet another endangered species. Along with the white rhino, snow leopard, and monitor lizards, the zoo is home to the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee.

Zoo Director Lee Jackson says the bumble bee was first spotted by accident, and really isn't a part of their animal collection.

"We started a number of years ago, before even I think I started, trying to provide an environment that's attractive to monarch butterflies and we've since expanded that by adding natural plantings to different parts of our property."

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Joel Vanderbush, Niabi Zoo
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Since 2000, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has only been found in fragmented populations across 13 states. It needs tallgrass prairies to survive, and only 1% of that habitat still exists in Illinois.

Pollinators like the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee are critically important for our food supply.

"I think it's pretty exciting that we're playing a role in helping sustain an endangered species--the first bumble bee to be put on the endangered species list, by the way--and I think it kind of shows what people can do in a very simple, inexpensive, non-intrusive way to make a difference and help local wildlife."

A year ago, a Rusty Patched Bumble Bee was spotted in Nahant Marsh in southwest Davenport.