Cause of Monty’s Death Identified: Severe Fungal Respiratory Infection | Chicago News

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Monty in the foreground, Rose in the back. (Credit: Ann Gunkle)

The cause of death has been revealed for Monty, the beloved patriarch of the Chicago Piping Plover family.

According to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which coordinated the testing in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program.

Other tests ruled out bird flu, the zoo said.

On May 13, the day of his death, Monty was seen gasping for air by plover monitors. After tripping around the Montrose Beach dune habitat, he fell and did not recover.

Monty first captured the hearts of Chicagoans in 2019 when he and his mate, Rose, became the first pair of endangered Great Lakes piping plovers to nest in the city since the 1950s, choosing the crowded Montrose beach as a breeding ground. The couple’s legend only grew when they returned to Montrose Beach in 2020 and 2021, managing to hatch chicks three years in a row.

Although Monty’s death and the disappearance of Rose, who never arrived in Chicago in 2022, seemingly marked the end of the piping plover’s story in Chicago, the saga is far from over.

Monty will continue to benefit Great Lakes Piping Plover research, with tissue samples reserved for genetic study; his remains will be sent to the Field Museum.

At a recent memorial for Monty and Rose, Monty was remembered as a loyal companion and fiercely protective father. His legacy lives on at Montrose Beach, where one of the couple’s 2021 chicks, Imani, spent the past week, much to the delight of the community Monty and Rose have brought together.


Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]

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