Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

It's been a good century in Missouri — if you're a river otter or an elk. But for red wolves and the white-tailed jackrabbit? Not so much.

With the recent release of The Wild Mammals of Missouri: Third Revised Edition, we invite a local natural history biologist to explore how our local animal populations have changed over time. 


Eduard Solà / Wikimedia Commons

Seeing a planarian for the first time, you might not even know what you’re looking at. Brown, black, or white in color, these flatworms are about the size of a toenail clipping and have two light-sensing spots on their triangular-shaped heads that make them look cross-eyed. Their simple appearance, though, belies a surprising ability.


“You can take one of these animals and cut them into 18 fragments,” says Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, who does this for a living, “and each and every one of those fragments will go on to regenerate a complete animal.”

Pretty Chickens

Jul 26, 2016
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

With more and more livestock being house in urban and suburban backyards, some owners take just as much pride in their poultry, as their dog or cat. So much so, that they're primping and preening them for beauty contests. Harvest Public Media's Luke Runyon takes us on a trip to one such contest in Colorado.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Chickens aren't a traditional pet. But with chicken coops springing up in more and more urban and suburban backyards, some owners take just as much pride in their poultry as their dog or cat. So much so that they're primping and preening them for beauty contests.

Kansas City Zoo Archives

If you visited the Kansas City Zoo anytime from the late 1960s to the early 1990s you’ll probably remember the Great Blue Whale. The giant concrete play structure was made up of 18,000 pounds of concrete and metal rods.


The Whale so well known that I have clear memories of the whale — which is impossible since I wasn’t born until 1995.


The Great Blue Whale was removed from the Zoo in the 1990s, when the zoo went through major renovations. At the most, I may have caught glimpse of it from my stroller.

Courtesy Photo: Kansas City Zoo

Yes, it's going to be a warm weekend, but at 11 o'clock Saturday morning, you'll be treated to something special if you're at the Kansas City Zoo. Some of the zoo's penguins will be parading around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, greeting guests.

"The birds actually seem to like it," says Director of Zoological Operations, Sean Putney."When we go in to get them, they don't quite smile, but when we walk toward the door, they follow us immediately." 

Drew Fowler, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, is studying the snow goose population.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The big flocks of snow geese flying over the Midwest each spring and fall may make for a pretty picture, but the booming population of those fluffy, noisy, white birds is creating an environmental disaster in Canada. And it’s partially thanks to decisions made by Midwest farmers. 

“The birds have grown exponentially, almost now to a concern that they’re causing destruction to their tundra breeding grounds,” said Drew Fowler, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri.

When a child fell into the gorilla habitat of the Cincinnati Zoo last week, the event ended in the death of the gorilla. What are the ethics at the intersection of human and animal life?

Plus, the story of a KC resident who, as a toddler, escaped from his mom and entered the seal exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo.


Up to Date has covered local efforts to find permanent homes for shelter animals. One Overland Park woman wants to help by asking her city to lift its pet limit ordinance.


  • Audrey Sanchez is with Families for Pets.
  • Sean Reilly is Manager of Communications for Overland Park, Kansas.
Austin McKahan / The Kansas City Zoo

Nikita the polar bear is leaving Kansas City. His next project? To procreate on behalf of his entire species. We bid a fond farewell to this 1200-pound celebrity covered in fur. 


  • Randy Wisthoff, executive director and CEO, The Kansas City Zoo
Cody Newill

Everybody knows that Santa Claus is used to some cold weather — how else would he tolerate the sub-zero climate of the North Pole?

But old Saint Nick took things a step further over the weekend by taking a dip with the Kansas City Zoo's penguins.

Chronicle Books

Up to Date host Steve Kraske makes no bones about it, he does not like cats. Find out if Francesco Marciuliano and KCUR staffers can change his mind as they explore Marciuliano's humorous book, You Need More Sleep: Advice From Cats.

For area animal organizations with a "no-kill" policy, keeping their charges sheltered, fed and socialized  strains available resources.  Fostering programs temporarily place dogs, cats and other animals with qualified people until a forever home can be found.


Wikimedia Commons

The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health is warning Kansas residents about an uptick in rabies infections this year.

As of July 1, there have been 69 positive cases of rabies in the state, 13 of which have been in domestic animals. In 2014, there were 69 cases for the entire year. 

Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Bill Brown says that the increase is part of a natural cycle. He says rabies cases typically surge every few years, and this year's hot temperatures and wet weather could be spurring more animal activity — and more chances for infection.

christina rutz / Flickr-CC

A Kansas City Council Committee has determined that it should no longer be illegal to keep Vietnamese potbellied pigs as pets.

An amendment to a 1995 ordinance going before the full city council would allow for up to four potbellied pigs to be kept in residentially zoned areas as long as they are neutered and remain under 95 pounds.

Residents who want to keep potbellied pigs will have to keep them leashed or fenced when outside. 

KU News Service/University of Kansas

From the hydrozoan Ectopleura larynx physically fusing to its offspring, to the fish Geophagus altifrons protecting mobile juveniles in their mouths, mothering styles vary from species to species. We invited two professors from KU's Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the director of living collections at the Kansas City Zoo to discuss the maternal instinct — or lack thereof — in the animal world.


February 2 will see the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day. On this Up To Date, guest host Stephen Steigman takes a peek at the life of the marmot, the animal we all know as a groundhog, with an expert who has been studying the animal for more than 40 years.


Cindy Taylor

The nine-banded armadillo has been naturally expanding its habitat north from Central America since 1849. They're common in the southeastern part of the country, but throughout the century they’ve started to move further north and east.

Sightings in Missouri started about 40 years ago. They use to be rare, but now they’re a lot more common.

“Hundreds, we’ve had hundreds so far this year it’s safe to say," says James Dixon, a wildlife damage biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Rising numbers and rising frustration

Aaron Merrifield / Flickr-CC

When you burn your finger or get a gash on your leg, you know what to do—or at least where the first aid kit is. But what do you do if your pet gets injured?

On Tuesday's Up to Date, veterinarian Wayne Hunthausen joins us to talk about first aid for your pets. We also take a look at what bandage you should use when Fido gets a cut and what to do when you can’t get Fluffy to the vet after an injury.


The True Life Of Kansas City Zookeepers

Jul 8, 2014
Butterflyxoeio / Flickr Creative Commons

So, you like animals? You enjoy watching them, taking care of them, and talking about them? Would you make a good zookeeper? Guest Host Brian Ellison takes a look at the true life of Kansas City Zoo zookeepers on Tuesday's Up to Date. Find out what it's really like to chase a fugitive chimpanzee and keep the penguins healthy and happy in their habitat. Speaking of penguins, you can watch the penguins at the Kansas City Zoo live right here.


Wash away the recent rainy weather with Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for April 4-6.

Ink's Middle of the Map Fest Music festival with more that 120 bands at six venues.  Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Gary Numan performs at 11 p.m. Thursday at Ernie Biggs Piano Bar. Country Club Plaza and Westport area. Tickets: $55 three-day-pass


Fido’s making strange sounds, and Fluffy’s decided to carve your couch into a masterpiece with her claws. If all your solutions so far seem to be barking up the wrong tree, we’ve got another option for you.

In the first part of Tuesday's Up to Date, animal behavior expert and veterinarian Wayne Hunthausen joins us to answer your questions about pet behavior.


Shawn Kinkade/ Flickr-CC

Lions, tigers and (panda) bears, oh my! Two thousand zoo and aquarium professionals are in Kansas City this week for the annual convention of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

In the first part of Tuesday's Up to Date, we take a look at the challenges zoos face these days and how that's been affecting attendance. We also discuss what zoos are hoping their visitors get out of the experience. 



Buying a cat or dog from a store isn’t your only option—pet adoption is growing more popular. However, taking in a rescue animal does present challenges. 

minds-eye/Flickr--Creative Commons

They spread disease and pollute the land. They devour birds and baby fauns. They have sharp teeth, weigh 300 pounds, and are now in 38 states across the US. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but the wild pig is real and they cause damage to farms and rural communities throughout America.

Stretching Your Palate

Jan 7, 2013

Chances are you have eaten at his restaurant, taken in a show at his venue, or even met the dude.  But did you know about his plan to curb regional invasive species by cooking and eating them?

wikimedia commons

For the past couple months we’ve been bringing you clips of presentations from Nerd Nites, which happen in Kansas City, Lawrence and all around the world.


What's the most common rat in Kansas City these days? Tipping the scales at 10-17 ounces and a nasty little 7-10-inch body, it's the Norway rat.

How Animals Help Heal

May 14, 2012

In 2007, Dale Smith was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the head and neck. Throughout his treatment, his pet dog Keegan, normally an energetic border collie, lay patiently by his side, waiting for Dale to get better.

A new rule that took effect this year in New York state is designed to stop the illegal sale of black bear parts for use in Asian medicine and cooking. While the sale of parts is still allowed, hunters will now have to document that they were taken legally.

The tiny village of Keene, N.Y., in the Adirondack Mountains is part of a trade network that supplies Asian apothecaries and restaurants from New York City to Seoul, South Korea.