Woodland Park Zoo Logo

Thursday, April 20, 2017

5 Easy, Impactful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

We know you all love animals and want to protect wildlife, but it’s not always easy to know what you can do from home that will make a difference. This Earth Day, we've made a list of five easy, impactful ways you can celebrate Planet Amazing (that's Earth).


A starlit sky over tiger territory in Peninsular Malaysia. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren. Woodland Park Zoo.
Why: Every year people turn off their lights during Earth Hour. The worldwide one-hour event has become a symbol for appreciating the planet, but you can celebrate Earth Hour all year long. Spend some time in the dark once or twice a week, or promise to turn out the majority of your lights an hour before bedtime, you'll sleep better too! Turning off lights and unplugging is an easy way to save energy and become mindful of how much energy you are using.

How: 40% of total U.S. energy consumption is consumed in residential and commercial buildings. Simply turning off appliances and lights when not in use has a big impact.

Pro tip: Unplug your electronic devices from the wall or turn them completely off with a power switch. Leaving them plugged in, especially items like phone chargers, can still slowly suck energy. According to the EPA, idle gadgets (aka Vampire electronics) suck up to $10 billion in energy annually. Yikes.


You'd do anything for this little nugget, right? Well, recycling your old cell can help Yola's wild cousins. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren. Woodland Park Zoo.
Why: On Earth Day, come recycle your handheld electronics with us through ECO-CELL to preserve gorilla habitat. By reclaiming the minerals in your electronics and diverting them from landfills, we can reduce demand for mining in gorilla habitat.

How: Bring any old cellphones, MP3 players, or tablets hanging around your house to the zoo on Earth Day and drop them off at our ECO-CELL stations.

Pro tip: Funds generated from recycled electronics will go toward our Mbeli Bai Gorilla Project that works to protect gorilla families like Yola’s in the Republic of Congo. 


You can do it, we promise. Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.
Why: Plant-based diets benefit the environment and our overall health. If you are looking for an easy way to lighten your carbon footprint, this is it. Adopting a  mostly vegetarian diet can cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by more than two-thirds.

How: Go vegetarian once or twice a week or commit to local, organic meat options. With a suite of awesome vegetarian recipes readily available online its easy to find something you'll enjoy. Best excuse for homemade cheese pizza ever. 

Pro tip: You don't have to give up on meat entirely, as it provides lots of great nutrition and some healthy fats, but try to limit what you do consume. While you're at it, make sure your fish is on the seafood watch list.


A gray wolf shakes off a thick Seattle rain. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Why: While over 70% of our planet is covered in water, only 3% is fresh water. Of that, less than 1% is available for consumption. Saving water isn't just about saving water. The energy needed to treat and deliver water is also precious. Saving water helps reduce pollution and conserve fuel too.

How: The biggest water guzzler in your house is probably in your bathroom. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Take a shorter shower. Consider installing water-friendly toilets and shower nozzles. Always wash laundry and dishes at full loads. Never ignore leaky faucets.

Pro tip: Can't You Hear Me Knockin' by The Rolling Stones is seven minutes and fifteen seconds. Finish your shower before it ends!


Gunnar believes in your ability to speak up for wildlife! Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Why: Humans are responsible for pollution, deforestation, industrial waste, greenhouse gases, urban sprawl and really bad memes, but we are also capable of change. Being an advocate for wildlife and wild places is an incredibly important role.

How: Think about energy and resources. We have a finite amount of it, it’s precious and can be expensive. Recycling isn’t just about reusing your jeans, it’s about not wasting energy making a new pair, right? One of the most-effective ways to be a steward for mother nature is changing your mindset to think about the amount of energy and resources you are using. Examples of this include buying higher-end products that might last a lifetime rather than a less expensive option that will wear out quickly. It’s also about being vocal about the products and companies you support; your consumer choice is incredibly powerful!

Support companies and products that pledge to offset their carbon emissions, use recycled materials and take corporate sustainability and environmental impact seriously.

Pro tip: When buying paper or wood products look for the FSC label, which means the product is Forest Stewardship Council certified. Buying FSC supports companies who practice responsible forest management and saves habitat for forest-dwellers, 70% of Earth's animals and plants.


The one thing that will have the most immediate impact is your decision to act. On Earth Day, Woodland Park Zoo invites the community to be advocates for our planet with action opportunities throughout the zoo. Sign cards for a few of our Congress members to thank them for their commitment to the planet, learn about personal actions you can adopt at home and take home a biodegradable coaster embedded with non-invasive seeds that can be planted into a garden or pot, germinating later into beautiful flowers.

See you on Earth Day, Saturday April 22!

This tiger is counting on you. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
There are about a million ways you can be a more sustainable creature on Earth. That’s good news, it means we can all find ways to change our behavior to lower our impact. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April showers bring delicious PNG YUS coffee

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo

It's April in Seattle which means weather. Lots of weather. Along with springtime blooms, the earth-soaked scent of petrichor and dancing under rainbows, there is yet another reason to love this season...an excuse to stock up on your favorite PNG YUS coffee!

PNG YUS coffee is now available at both ZooStores and Caffe Vita shops around Seattle!
Photo courtesy of www.caffevita.com.

AROMA: Guava, hazelnut, orange zest
FLAVOR: Honey, sugarcane
BODY: Smooth

Caffe Vitta has been partnering with Woodland Park Zoo's Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) for over four years, and each batch of sustainable coffee tastes better than the last.

Grown in the remote cloud forests of Huon Penensula, Papua New Guinea, the coffee plants thrive under native shade and the care of farmers who are proud to support local conservation.
The coffee you buy can help save wildlife. The people of Papua New Guinea’s YUS region pledged 180,000 acres of their own land to help save endangered tree kangaroos. The shade-grown coffee they grow sustainably—in the very forests they protect—is not only delicious, but is part of an internationally renowned, award winning conservation program. 

With Earth Day coming up on April 22, look to TKCP as a reminder that sometimes the simplest solution is the most sustainable. When WPZ's senior conservation scientist, Lisa Dabek started looking at ways to save habitat for endangered tree kangaroos 20 years ago, she began by talking to the people who live and work in the area. 

Dr. Dabek explains, "In PNG, more than 90% of the land is owned by indigenous clans. Land cannot be bought or sold; it is passed down from generation to generation. TKCP spent years meeting with the landowners and communities, building trust and a mutual understanding of wildlife conservation. The landowners in YUS chose to pledge portions of their clan lands to create the YUS Conservation Area so that future generations can depend upon their natural resources and carry on their cultural traditions. One of the greatest assets for protecting species and habitat is the leadership of local communities in managing resources sustainably." 

Although the program is complex, the basic idea is all about community. By “ensuring sustainable health and prosperity for the living YUS landscape, biodiversity, people and culture,” the mission of TKCP has been very successful. Drink coffee = save tree kangaroos.

Wild Matschie's tree kangaroo in Papua New Guinea.
There's nothing more Seattle than coffee, rain and conservation. We're all about protecting rain forest habitat and the creatures who love it as much as we do, which is why it just makes sense that we're also passionate about cheering on Papua New Guinea’s first national conservation area. 

A familiar scene 6,700 miles away in Papua New Guinea's cloud forests.
Dr Dabek reminds us, "If we do not focus on community-based conservation and sustainable living, we will not succeed in conserving endangered species. Conservation is ultimately about people!"

Right now, you can directly support conservation in YUS by buying YUS Conservation Coffee at both ZooStores and through Caffe Vita! The new batch of medium roast PNG YUS is totally ready for your vacuum pot, pour over or drip. It's delicious any way.

You can also visit zoo.org/treekangaroo to learn about other ways to get involved. 

Every visit to the zoo is a vote for conservation.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sharing smiles for over 25 years

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Ryther is a center that provides psychiatric and mental health services for children and youth. Just about 15 minutes away from Woodland Park Zoo, Ryther has been bringing kids to the zoo for over 25 years through the zoo’s free Community Access Program. These are the kids most in need of community and Ryther is one of the best kept secrets in our neighborhood.

They take in some of the most vulnerable children in the Puget Sound and beyond. At Ryther, kids are never turned away. Today Ryther works with the most complex kids. Their mission is augmented by the generosity of the community, their dedicated volunteer base, the Ryther League, from large donations and sponsors to tickets from local institutions such as the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo. 

This is a story about the kids in the Cottage Program. 

Listen to the full story and hear from some of the kids who live at Ryther, their amazing counselors Jasper Knox and Kirstie Arnberg, and Director of Organizational Advancement, Robin Bennett. Listen: https://soundcloud.com/user-731694519/ryther-and-the-community-access-program-at-woodland-park-zoo

Ryther is just one of over 600 Community Access Program partners in the Seattle area and beyond. The zoo’s Community Access Program works with hundreds of organizations such as Ryther to make the zoo more accessible to low-income, at-risk or underserved children and families. Why? Because we believe time spent with wildlife is educational, motivational and restorative.

Ryther offers and develops safe places and opportunities for children, youth and families to heal and grow so that they can reach their highest potential. Before children enter Ryther's Cottage Program they have been at an average of nine placements. 86% of those children transition to a family home setting.  Photo courtesy of Janelle Simms, Ryther
Something as simple as a visit to the zoo can have a profound impact on the lives of these amazingly resilient kids. Counselors bring small groups of children to the zoo to experience time away from the cottages, to connect with animals and nature, to experience their community and to create peaceful, safe and fun memories.

Special thanks to Robin Bennett and Janelle Simms for their time and support in telling this story. Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.
Thank you to Ryther for sharing their zoo memories with us, and thanks to our zoo visitors, members and the community for making this partnership possible. 

Because kids don't come with a manual

In addition to the Cottage Program, Ryther offers families and children a suite of outpatient services such as individual and family therapy, drug and alcohol assessments and treatment, teen and young adult co-occurring program for mental health and substance abuse, group therapy, aspiring youth camps and year round social skills groups for youth with autism spectrum disorders/ADHD/ development delays as well as autism assessments and diagnostics. If you know a child or family who might benefit from these services, you can visit www.ryther.org or call Ryther at (206) 517-0234 to speak with them today.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

VIDEO: Pregnant giraffe Tufani eating for two

Posted by: Alissa Wolken, Communications
Video and photo by: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Spring has officially arrived, and it’s brought baby fever with it; giraffe baby fever to be specific! 

Like many zoos around the country, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a giraffe calf after confirming earlier this year that 8-year-old Tufani is expecting her first baby. With a gestation period of 14 to 15 months, we're expecting a tall delivery anywhere from mid-May to early July 2017.

So, what does it take to keep a pregnant Tufani comfortable and healthy? Lead keeper, and giraffe doula, Katie Ahl gives us the scoop on a few tricks of the trade.

VIDEO: Lead keeper Katie Ahl welcomes us to the giraffe barn where she explains the special enrichment and diet that goes into caring for a pregnant giraffe. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCGPkiqKVo0)

Tufani (left) with her nephew Misawa in 2013. 

The father is handsome 4-year-old Dave of course. This will be the first baby for both parents who were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability. Along with aunt Olivia and mom and dad, the baby giraffe will eventually share the savanna with zebras, gazelle and ostrich.

A Baby Giraffe Registry
You can help provide top notch care for expecting Tufani, and other African Savanna animals, by purchasing items from Woodland Park Zoo’s “baby shower” gift registry on Amazon: www.zoo.org/registry.

Bucket lids, chew balls and a molasses lick...what more could a pregnant giraffe (and her dedicated keepers) ask for?

Visit the baby giraffe registry www.zoo.org/registry
Your generous in-kind gift can qualify as a tax-deductible contribution. Please include your name, address and email in the "Gift Message" field when checking-out so we can send you a tax receipt and say thank you! For tracking purposes, please forward your purchase confirmation to donations@zoo.​org.
If you're as excited about this news as we are, then you'll be pleased to hear that we will be sharing updates on Tufani and crew right here as soon as we have more news to share. Thank you for showing your love for giraffes and all African Savanna animals.

Save the Date
Spring Safari: African Wildlife Conservation Day
Saturday, April 8, 2017

Celebrate the African savanna and the amazing animals that live there. This full day of activities focuses on migration patterns of African animals, educational keeper talks and special enrichment sessions to heighten awareness about issues such as illegal poaching and habitat loss, and how your choices and actions can help save giraffe, lions, ostrich and other critical savanna animals.
Gazelle and zebra in the mixed species African Savanna exhibit.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello, Hudson!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Handsome pup! Hudson, an arctic fox and Woodland Park Zoo ambassador animal, shows off his finest pose.

When it comes to enchanting creatures, it’s hard to find a more charming species than the arctic fox. Seemingly pulled straight from a fairy tale, these captivating canines are incredibly tough and inhabit some of the most frigid habitat. One little fox in particular is already getting quite a lot of attention as his handsome mug graces the cover of our Spring membership magazine, MyZoo. 

Starting this spring, and even more-so this summer, you'll have the opportunity to meet a host of incredible creatures during our Ambassador Animals programs at thAlvord Broadleaf and Wildlife theaters. Depending on how his training goes, Hudson will be one of them, giving guests the chance to see some of his awesomely Arctic adaptations such as leaping, pouncing and being entirely silent on his padded paws. 

Resourceful, energetic and smart, this fox can adapt to any season and extreme environments. In the wild, arctic foxes are opportunistic and omnivorous feeders; they will eat virtually anything edible. Small mammals make up their preferred summer diet, but they also eat plants, bird eggs, insects and fish. Winter diets include marine mammals, birds, seals, invertebrates and carrion. They also eat berries and seaweed. 

We asked Regina Smith, one of Hudson's dedicated keepers and trainers, to give us the scoop on this little snowball.

Born: Great Bend Zoo and Raptor Center, May 20, 2016

Favorite things: Heavy duty dog squeaky toys, cardboard paper towel rolls and lightweight cardboard boxes (that have squeaky toys hidden inside).

Favorite treats: Dog kibble, mixed veggies (except one*), silverside fish and meatballs!

Least favorite treats: *Lima beans

Favorite activity: Sneaking up on his keepers and then running away at top speed when we try to catch him.

Where does Hudson hang out when he is not visiting with guests or training? If Hudson is not participating in a training session, he is usually curled up in one of his outdoor runs keeping an eye on what zoo staff and volunteers are doing. Hudson most often chooses to sleep next to a small stump.

Arctic foxes have extremely long and bushy tails that muffle the sounds made by their bodies crossing terrain. They also have incredible hearing and wide, front-facing ears, which allow them to locate the precise position of their prey beneath the snow. When an arctic fox hears its next meal under the snowpack, it leaps into the air and pounces, breaking through the layer of snow right onto the prey beneath.
Tell us a bit about Hudson: As an Ambassador Animal, Hudson does not live on exhibit; his role will be to give zoo guests the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with an arctic fox and hopefully an opportunity to watch him do some natural behaviors during a stage program. Hudson is very playful, intelligent, and is always ready to interact (aka have fun) with his keepers. He seems shy at first with new people, but quickly warms up to them— especially if they have treats for him!

Is he especially bonded to one of his keepers? That’s a hard question! I think I have the closest relationship with him, but it may be due to the fact that I was able to work with him when he first arrived. Hudson does well with all his keepers, but when we are asking him for new behaviors or ones that make him more nervous, he is more willing to try them with me.

What type of training has he received? As you will see, Hudson is a smart fox and a quick learner. He responds to target and clicker cues and can play follow-the-keeper or stand on a scale to be weighed. He loves to show off his signature arctic fox pounce!

Does he hang with any of the other Ambassador Animals? Hudson’s neighbors are Edna the chicken, Sky√°ana the porcupine, Lucy the raccoon, Calvin the opossum and Blueberry the hornbill.

Adorable level: 10

While many mammals hibernate during the winter, the arctic fox remains active throughout the frigid months. Their physical characteristics of superb insulation with fur and fat, combined with a stocky body shape enable the arctic fox to conserve body heat. During winters, their densely furred paws prevent heat loss through their feet. 
They appear, and disappear, into the snowy landscape. This seemingly magical creature, beloved by many and celebrated in indigenous folklore around the North, is a reminder of nature’s incredible ability to thrive. This summer, you'll get a chance to meet Hudson and learn about his wild counterparts and their amazing ability to live in some of the harshest landscapes on earth.

Snow day! Winter wonder: Arctic foxes have a tremendous tolerance for cold. Their metabolic rate only starts to increase at -58° Fahrenheit and they only start to shiver when temperatures reach -94° Fahrenheit!

You may already know that temperatures in the arctic fox’s native range are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. Reduced sea ice, melting permafrost and rising sea levels are all signs of a warming trend in the Arctic. These trends threaten all species who make their home on the ice including polar bears, wolves, narwhal, walrus, whales, caribou, many sea birds, plankton and the arctic fox. 

The good news is that you can do something about it just by making small changes at home. Look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint by consuming sustainable resources, educating your family and friends about eco-friendly solutions for transportation and travel, adjust your thermostat, buy local, plug in compact florescent bulbs and unplug your gadgets! 

These small actions may seem simple, but just think, if each WPZ member household did just one action a month, that would be 43,000 steps closer to a healthy arctic landscape.

Special thanks to our generous donors for their support of the Alvord Broadleaf Theater and Wildlife Theater. 

Ambassador Animals and raptor programs made possible by support from: Rick and Nancy Alvord, Al Buckingham, Chevron Corporation, The Hanlon Family, Ben and Ginny Holtman in memory of Jack Holtman, Kenneth and SaSa Kirkpatrick, Darinee and Scott Louvau, D.V. & Ida McEachern Charitable Trust, Julia and Adam Ryan, The Sunderland Foundation and anonymous.
Meet Hudson and friends this summer

Thanks to our generous donors, you'll be seeing more of Hudson in our Ambassador Animals programs this summer. Over the years, guests have watched the impressive flying and hunting skills of birds of prey at the zoo’s Raptor Center. This summer, a diverse cast of ambassador animals will be added to the up-close, animal experience, Earn Your Wings, including pot-bellied pigs Annabelle and Bailey along with a rotating cast of guest appearances by flamingo chicks Paco and Pluma, arctic fox Hudson, raccoon Lucy, a skunk and others. Seating at the new Wildlife Theater will triple in a newly renovated visitor viewing area, better vistas will be offered and the sound system will be enhanced.

The new Friends by Nature program at the Alvord Broadleaf Theater offers zoo-goers an opportunity to meet a variety of ambassador animals including a hornbill, porcupine, and kookaburra through engaging, up-close experiences that incite empathy and the desire to take action for wildlife. 

Celebrate Hudson the arctic fox with a ZooParent adoption special, just $69: www.zoo.org/zooparent
If you just can't wait to meet Hudson, you can always adopt a ZooParent in his likeness. When you make a symbolic adoption, your gift directly supports conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world.

Friday, March 17, 2017

How Green Are You?

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Don't get pinched! This Saint Patrick's Day, make sure you are green inside and out. Take this quiz to see where you land on the zoo's green'o'meter.

While we're in the mood to rock all shades of green, let's see just how green you really are. Take the quiz at http://www.bit.ly/greenasgreen 

Good luck!

Are you as green as a waxy monkey frog? Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.