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A Chicagoan's Field Guide to the Living Dead, the Walking Dead and Zombies

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A NATURALIST'S FIELD GUIDE TO ZOMBIE SPECIES IN CHICAGO

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As the official Chicago Urban Nature Examiner at Examiner.com it is always my job to inform the citizens of Chicago and beyond of any unusual wildlife to be found in the region.

Today's subject is the various species of zombies one can expect to find during the Halloween season.

The basic biological definition of a zombie is any formerly living thing now moving about the earth as if it were again alive. Another word for zombie is "living dead," or the "walking dead." These types of zombies can be found in many different habitat niches including public busses during rush hour, cubicles at very large office complexes between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, and in lines at Starbucks before 8:00 a.m. on any workday. But we digress.

The basic zombie classifications are based on how they move, what they eat and their general appearance, although that can change as flesh falls off their bodies during molting season, which runs from March through May.

But here for your edification are some descriptions of basic zombie species that you can use to impress your friends during the height of zombie season this Halloween. If you really want to have fun, you can make up a zombie "life list" and keep track of how many species you see each year.

Here's another interesting zombie fact: LinkedIn even has it's own Zombie Professionals Group, because we all know that business loves nothing more than to get greater productivity out of the Living Dead.

But getting back to zombies in their natural habitats, here are the most common species of zombies to be found around the Chicago area and where to find them.

Let us know when they start showing up in your neighborhood. They often migrate south during cold fronts or whenever Tom Skilling does that weird thing with his eyes. We think he's communicating directly with zombies somehow, including:

WANDERING ZOMBIE
This species of zombie generally can be found in habitats such as main streets and public parks. These are the zombies popularly depicted stumbling down the street with arms spread wide, moaning and spewing ugly substances from their mouths. Wandering zombies feed mostly on stray dogs and cats, but will take a human being for a meal if they can find one lying on a park bench.

Wandering zombies cannot tolerate cold and will sometimes be found frozen solid in a public park. In that case do not touch them because they qualify as modern art, and there are ordinances against desecrating sculptures and other structures in Chicago.

Field marks: Worn off feet or complete stubs at bottom of legs. Usually missing fingers and often has bent arms from falling constantly.

FLESH-EATING ZOMBIE
This most-feared species of zombie is well known for their appetite for human flesh. Flesh-eating zombies often travel with Wandering Zombies, which makes it difficult to separate them in the field. You will definitely know a flesh-eating zombie is in the neighborhood if you find one actually attached to your neck, gnawing on the cartilage.

Field marks; Large, well-worn teeth and bloody gums. Occasionally smells like human cologne if occupying highly urban areas such as Chicago's Rush Street.

NAKED ZOMBIES
The most readily identifiable species of zombie is actually a rare form of the living dead. Naked zombies evolve in circumstances where the formerly living person is killed while in a state of stark nakedness. This species is therefore quite common in sin cities such as Las Vegas and Branson, Missouri. (Don't ask. Just know that sex in public places among the elderly is quite a common thing).

Many naked zombies are known to be former movie stars or actresses. Rumor has it that screen star Linday Lohan is actually a naked zombie disguised as a Wandering Zombie.

Field marks: Fairly self-evident. Their rotten zombie junk is showing. Never a pretty sight.

CONSERVATIVE ZOMBIES
The species known as conservative zombies is identified by their piercing eyes and slavering mouths. The mating call of the conservative zombie is "Cutttt Taxes" and the typical territorial song of this species is "Russssshhhhhh." Call note is a simple: "dittohead!" repeated over and over again until election season is over.

Field marks: Usually dressed in patriotic rags, Tea Party hats and natty polo shirts with bits of Democratic blood on them.

LIBERAL ZOMBIES
Liberal zombies generally do not eat human flesh because they're too busy glomming up zombie tofu and other organic treats. But they will get down and gnaw on your legs in a really annoying way. Not to harm you, just to remind you that they're there.

Field marks: Stocking caps, usually. Sometimes covered in bumper stickers that say COEXIST. But don't let them fool you. Liberal zombies want to take over your property, your home and your gun collection, which they'll use for candleholders.

SPORT ZOMBIES
This interesting specie of zombie never appears in public without wearing a jersey or sweater from their favorite sports team. Subspecies of Sport Zombines include Bears zombies, Cubs zombies (although that's redundant) Sox zombies, Bulls, Hawks and Fire zombies.

Field marks: occasionally seen with hats, sweaters and scarves to match their sport zombie demeanor. Wanders aimlessly during the offseason but can be found in large numbers at team conventions, where sports zombies will line up for hours to get the autograph of a retired professional sport zombie.

There are many other species of zombies to be found in the Chicago area if you know where to look. It is a fascinating hobby to study zombies in their natural element, and Halloween is the best season of the year to become a zombie watcher.

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