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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

MyZoo Kids Rock Backyard Creature Art Contest

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

This summer we asked kids to show us what kinds of creatures might be hiding in their backyardthe results were some very creative and rare species indeed.

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The MyZoo Kids' Backyard Creatures contest invited kids ages 3-5 and 6-10 to design their own inspired creatures, whether real or imagined and after sorting through a stack of over 100 entries we have the winners!

Grand Prize: Age 6-10

Artist: Lauren Orrison, age 7
Name of creature: Lady Lizard
Nocturnal, eats pollen, lives underground and likes to dance.

We loved Lauren's wild use of mark making and a creature that reminds us of something we have seen before, but can't quite place. Lauren will receive an overnight experience at the zoo in August. Great work Lauren!

Grand Prize: Age 3-5


Artist: Carly Rodgers, age 5
Name of creature: Sazzy
Nocturnal, eats reptiles, lives in a swamp and likes to hide.

There was something a little bit creepy and a little bit beautiful about Carly's creature, we love it! Carly will receive a ZooParent adoption plush and kit. So cool, Carly!

Runners up: Age 6-10

Artist: Asher Haukaas, age 9
Name of creature: Puffball salamander
Diurnal, eats insects, lives in damp areas and likes to release poisonous spores like a puffball mushroom.

Artist: Audrey Yu, age 6
Name of creature: Mini dragon fox
Crespucular, eats mice, lives in caves and likes to sun bathe.


Runners up: Age 3-5

Artist: Ellie White, age 5
Name of creature: Paint-the-town swallow
Crepuscular, eats bugs and roly polies, lives in trees and likes to fly to hunt for food.

Artist: Elianna Hogg, age 5
Name of creature: Cutie spider
Diurnal, eats all sorts of bugs, lives in its web and likes to make more webs.

There were so many wonderful entries, but puffball salamanders, mini dragon foxes, painting swallows and cute spiders all sounded like creatures we'd like to see in our backyards. Asher, Audrey, Elianna and Ellie will receive Woodland Park Zoo t-shirts and animal experience tickets. 

Thanks to all of the amazingly talented young artists and budding entomologists who participated in this summer's MyZoo kids contest. And, special thanks to local artist Melinda Hurst Frye for sharing her wonderful images with us in the summer issue of MyZoo magazine. To read more about Melinda's work and the beautiful backyard bugs that inspire her, check out the latest issue at zoo.org/magazine.

If you can't get enough of these creatures, stop by Bug World, our exhibit is teeming with some pretty incredible species you can find right in your own backyard.

Keep drawing, keep exploring and never stop using your imagination and creativity to celebrate nature!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Oops, snow leopard cub is a boy, not a girl

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications


Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.

After a closer look, it turns out our 1-month-old snow leopard is a boy, not a girl as reported two weeks ago during a quick neonatal exam. At a follow-up exam with veterinarians today we, uh, uncovered the truth. Sometimes determining the sex of young animals, particularly cats, can be more of an art than a science.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ

“Male or female, we’re pleased our cub remains in a healthy condition. Both eyes have opened and he weighed in today at 4.2 pounds, a healthy weight for his age,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health. Veterinarians will continue to administer health exams every few weeks until he’s about 16 weeks old for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling, explained Collins. The check-ups are a part of the zoo’s exemplary animal welfare program to ensure each animal receives optimal health care.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ

The new cub was born July 6 and is the first offspring between mom Helen and dad Dhirin (pronounced as did-in), both 12. Helen has had two previous litters with a different mate. Mom and cub remain in an off-view maternity den to ensure continual bonding and proper nursing in a quieter setting while staff watch the new family on a closed-circuit monitoring system. Cubs are born helpless, with their eyes closed; for several weeks they rely on their mothers for nutrition. To minimize disturbance, staff have minimal physical contact with the new family. Since snow leopards are solitary animals in their natural range, the father lives separately from the cub and can be seen by guests in the zoo’s snow leopard exhibit.

We anticipate putting the cub with mom in the outdoor, on-view exhibit in late September. 


Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ

Look for a naming poll coming later this month, to be launched at our Wild Asia: Asian Wildlife Conservation Day on August 12. Join us for the day and learn more about these elusive, beautiful cats and how to protect them.

“Mom is providing excellent maternal care for her cub, just like she did with her other cubs,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “The cub is gaining more mobility each day in the den box and is using his legs instead of crawling or scooting.”

Parents Helen and Dhirin were paired under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of snow leopards. Helen has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 2008 and Dhirin arrived from Oklahoma City Zoo in 2014.

Snow leopards are an endangered species. The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the high mountain ranges of Central Asia and Russia, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Seattle-based Snow Leopard Trust, the population of these endangered big cats in the wild is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390.

Woodland Park Zoo has long been a conservation partner with the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT); the two organizations are partnering with Kyrgyzstan's State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry to protect the snow leopards of the Tian Shan mountains. Research cameras set up in the Sarychat Ertash reserve allow researchers to monitor the area's snow leopard population, which they estimate to be around 18 cats. Through innovative programs, effective partnerships, and the latest science, the SLT is saving these endangered cats and improving the lives of people who live in the snow leopard countries of Central Asia.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Baby giraffe Lulu takes first steps on the savanna

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Lulu's first day on the savanna. Photo: Dennis Dow/WPZ.

This happened today.

It's a new milestone for baby giraffe, Lulu. For the first time, the 1½-month-old giraffe ventured onto the vast African Savanna exhibit with mom Tufani and the herd.

Hey there, guinea fowl. Have you met Lulu? You're about to! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.

“Lulu’s adventurous spirit and self-confidence were on full display during her first introduction on the savanna. She crossed out to the savanna cautiously, but once she was out there, she explored, galloped, and met our gazelle, guinea fowl and a few ducks,” said Katie Ahl, a lead keeper at Woodland Park Zoo.





“Lulu is very independent but you could tell Tufani and Lulu were keeping an eye on each other and it was good to see them check in with each other throughout the introduction,” Katie added.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.

Lulu’s time on the Savanna will be limited for the first week as introductions continue.  Currently, she has outdoor access in the corrals for guests to enjoy her from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily. “Lulu and her mom also have access to the barn, which is not viewable to our guests, so she may choose to go in the barn to nurse or nap,” said Katie.

Branches in the foreground acted as baby bumpers to keep Lulu away from steeper slopes. Photo: John Loughlin/WPZ.

Like human parents do at home for their own babies, the zoo closely inspected the African Savanna and took steps to baby proof the exhibit before introducing Lulu. Baby proofing the exhibit is a standard protocol when baby animals at the zoo go into an exhibit, and it is part of ensuring good animal welfare,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “Giraffe-style baby bumpers were added to the exhibit in the form of branches and logs laid along steeper slopes. We also closed up any gaps where she could potentially wedge herself. The baby bumpers and the watchful eyes of her mom and aunt are a great safety net as she explores her new surroundings.”

Seattle’s tallest baby, Lulu, was born June 20 to first-time parents, 9-year-old giraffe Tufani (too-faw-nee) and 4-year-old Dave. Born at a height of 5’9”, Lulu currently stands at 7’6” tall and weighs 267 pounds.

The family. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.

Widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa, new population surveys estimate an overall 36 to 40 percent decline in the giraffe population. Of the currently recognized subspecies of giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable.

Giraffe fans can help support conservation efforts by visiting Woodland Park Zoo and supporting Wildlife Survival Fund projects, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which seeks to provide the first long-term ecological monitoring effort of the Angolan giraffe—an important desert-dwelling giraffe subspecies in northwestern Namibia.

Love this girl. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Orphaned monkey rescued from street entertainers gets a second chance

Posted by: Kelly Martin, Colobus Conservation Ltd., a Woodland Park Zoo Wildlife Survival Fund project


Editor’s note: When an animal needs help, you can rely on our conservation partners to step up. Colobus Conservation Ltd., a Woodland Park Zoo Wildlife Survival Fund project based in Kenya, may have started with a focus on saving colobus monkeys, but their mission now impacts wildlife and communities well beyond that scope. This is one of those stories.


Mel the vervet monkey. Photo courtesy Lydia Katsis, Colobus Conservation researcher

Mel, a young female vervet monkey, arrived at Colobus Conservation a few weeks ago after being rescued from street entertainers trying to sell her to tourists passing by. Colobus Conservation was called to the scene by a concerned individual after witnessing little Mel tied up, alone and on the ground. She was being handed around for people to see. The asking price for her started at $10.

Team Colobus moved fast. As so often happens, on our arrival the individuals left the scene quickly, knowing that what they were doing is illegal. We arrived in time and were able to rescue little Mel before she was sold. She was strong and tried to bite us and wiggle away, not knowing what was happening to her. We wrapped her in a towel and drove back to the center. As soon as the engine started, little Mel fell fast asleep, indicating how truly exhausted she must have been from her ordeal.

On arrival at the center, Mel was checked by the vet. She was dehydrated and covered in dirt, but her condition was not so bad.

Little Mel was found tied up to a bag on the street. She was alone and being passed around for people to see. Photo courtesy Colobus Conservation

For the rest of the day and the first night, Mel cried for her mother. She then would sleep, eat and cry some more. We did all we could to comfort her, but we knew we would never be able to give her what she really needed, her mother. The next day we introduced her to another young female vervet monkey, Mali. Within the hour both had bonded and little Mel’s crying stopped almost immediately. Finally she was with a fellow monkey. Now, weeks later, they are inseparable, sleeping, eating and playing together, which fills the hearts of all the colobus team.

Mel will now have to spend at least 2 years under human care, where she will learn to be a monkey again, figuring out how to use her environment and what foods to eat, and how to socialize with other monkeys. Once ready and fully integrated, she will be released back into the wild.

Both infant vervet monkeys, Mali and Mel, were orphaned after losing their mothers to human/wildlife conflict. Both will need to be rehabilitated and will eventually be released back into the wild. Photo courtesy Lydia Katsis, Colobus Conservation researcher

We were able to save little Mel from the illegal pet trade. However, not all monkeys get a second chance. Many will be sold as pets, or used as a photo prop or passed around for tourists to stroke and touch. Many were probably torn away from their mothers who were likely killed. Colobus Conservation believes by creating awareness in communities, and through education, we can stop this being the fate of many animals. We work with the local community, school children and tourists to create awareness of why monkeys and other wild animals are not pets, and reinforce the importance of the local wildlife.

Without funding from places such as Woodland Park Zoo, our work would not be possible. We thank you for supporting us through the zoo and helping us save such monkeys as little Mel! Vote for Wildlife Survival Fund projects through the zoo's Quarters for Conservation kiosks on your next visit to continue to support projects like this.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Baby snow leopard instantly improves your day

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Getting weighed at two weeks old. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Here is your first look at our newest addition!

Born July 6, this little snow leopard had her first veterinary exam on Thursday. It was the first time we’ve been able to get close to baby, since snow leopards are born so helpless and depend on mom’s close care.





The exam went quickly because snow leopard mom Helen wouldn’t have it any other way. We got a good look at baby and that's when we found out we have a girl on our hands. She currently weighs 2.6 pounds and appears to be healthy. One of her eyelids has already opened and one remains closed. A cub’s eyelids normally open around two weeks. Her belly was full of milk, which means she is nursing and getting nourishment.

That belly is full of milk, a great sign that she's nursing properly. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Helen has been a great mom to her two previous litters with a different mate. She’s nurturing her cub very well and they’re bonding together in an off-view den where they can have some quiet, private space together.

Parents Helen and Dhirin were matched under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, a cooperative conservation breeding program across accredited zoos. Helen has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 2008 and Dhirin arrived from Oklahoma City Zoo in 2014. Since snow leopard fathers are not naturally involved in cub rearing, you can find Dhirin out in the snow leopard exhibit while mom and baby are in their den. It will be several weeks before the baby is ready to head outdoors.

Our zoo veterinarian takes a closer look at the cub's eyes. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

The exam went quickly so that baby could be returned to mom as soon as possible. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

The elusive snow leopard is endangered, and we partner with the Snow Leopard Trust to fight extinction in their native Kyrgyzstan. Together we work with Kyrgyzstan's State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry to protect the snow leopards of the Tian Shan mountains. Research cameras set up in the Sarychat Ertash reserve allow researchers to monitor the area's snow leopard population, which they estimate to be around 18 cats.

New images from the research cameras have just come in, and they are a bolt of energy to us. This is what we’re fighting for. We think you'll find them as breathtaking as we do.




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Siamang travels 3,200 miles to meet her match in Seattle

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. Sam and Bagus. Some duets are timeless.

For newly matched siamangs Sam and Bagus (bah-GOOSE), it’s only been a week and yet somehow it’s like they’ve been together forever.

Sam and Bagus are an instant pair! Photo by Carolyn Sellar/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sam lost his mate here at Woodland Park Zoo last year when our geriatric female Briony passed away. Across the country, Bagus lost her long-time mate at Palm Beach Zoo. A siamang’s social life is naturally structured around being in a bonded pair. Though Sam’s and Bagus’s keepers gave them all the TLC two lone siamangs could ask for, we all knew that what they needed most was to be part of a pair again.

Sam and Bagus were well matched on paper. We work with other accredited conservation zoos through the Species Survival Plan to track the genetics of endangered species, such as siamangs, in our care. This way we can collaborate on matchmaking, finding pairs that are right for breeding or companionship. But animals have their own personalities and just because a match works on paper, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be. That part would be up to Sam and Bagus.

For a chance at a new life with a new partner, Bagus traveled more than 3,000 miles on the nation’s longest direct flight, Miami to Seattle. When she arrived in Seattle, she was greeted by her Woodland Park Zoo keepers who instantly went to work to make her feel at home. After clearing standard quarantine, it was time for Sam and Bagus to finally meet.

We always take it slow when introducing animals to each other. Keepers started Sam and Bagus off by setting up what we call a “howdy” introduction, where they can safely interact through a barrier, in this case some mesh screening. Right away, Bagus presented to Sam, a clear “hello” signal! Sam reached through the barrier to touch her fur, a clear “hey” in return. Then Sam started pulling at the screen as if to say “thanks, keepers, but we won’t be needing this anymore!”




By day two the siamangs were sharing the same physical space. Right away we saw positive signs of a bond in the making. They share food and groom each other, and seem to always be by the other’s side.

Soon the two will head outdoors to explore the treetops together. Up in the canopy, they’ll develop their song. A siamang duet is a symphonic call that can be heard up to two miles away and can last up to 20 minutes. It strengthens their bond and declares their territory, territory that is all too quickly disappearing in the wild.

The largest of the gibbon species, siamangs are native to forests of Asia that are being destroyed at alarming rates as human development and agriculture expand. Know that when you come to visit Sam and Bagus, your admission or membership helps support our field conservation partners working to save gibbons and other apes from extinction.

We won’t let the siamang’s song be silenced in the wild. Every note we hear from Sam and Bagus will strengthen that resolve.