An opossum in the middle of a busy street in Philadelphia. A coyote slinking through backyards in Chicago’s suburbs. Or a kangaroo on the loose. Wildlife is finding its way into cities across North America. And the animals are figuring out how to live among us.
In Philadelphia, a city of sharp edges and fast cars, an opossum crossed a four-lane road with no traffic but plenty of speeding buses and trucks one morning before Thanksgiving 2015. The animal looked both ways, then scurried into the brush on the other side.
In Chicago, a coyote loped along a suburban street as cars whizzed by. In the space of two hours, he darted from one side to another six times before disappearing into a wooded area.
In San Francisco, squirrels and pigeons are common in parks and on sidewalks. But a kangaroo?
On Christmas Day, police were called to the home of a man living in an apartment building on Fell Street, where someone had reported seeing a kangaroo. When officers arrived, they didn’t find an animal that jumped like a kangaroo or even one that grew up Down Under. They found a domestic rabbit.
But sometimes, there really are kangaroos.
In March, police captured a kangaroo on the loose in downtown Long Beach, California. The owner told the local newspaper that the animal had gotten away from its pen a few days earlier.
In July, a kangaroo was spotted running around a Philadelphia neighborhood while out for a stroll with her pet dogs. The kangaroo was later captured by city animal control officers, who tranquilized her and brought her to Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team shelter.
The urban jungle seems like an unlikely home for wildlife, but people are seeing more of them. Urbanization means building homes where forests once stood. And as cities grow larger, wild animals may find that urban sprawl has encroached on their old habitat.
In the United States, as many as 150 million mammals, birds, and reptiles may live in communities surrounding parks and other green spaces, according to Michael Wallace, a biologist at the University of California Berkeley who co-authored a study on wildlife living in cities.
In conclusion, cities are home to many wild animals that seem very out of place. This is because cities are changing the natural habitats of many creatures. They have been able to adapt and do just fine in this type of environment.