Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Quiz: Which Northwest animal are you?

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

It's time to find your inner beast, Northwest style! As we countdown to Bear Affair: Living Northwest Conservation presented by Brown Bear Car Wash on Sat., June 6, we're celebrating the wonders of Northwest wildlife with this fun little quiz that puts the spotlight on our native neighbors.

Take the quiz at http://www.zoo.org/bearaffair

Learning to co-exist safely and harmoniously with our local wildlife is at the heart of Bear Affair. On the big day, June 6, grizzly bear brothers Keema and Denali will ransack a mock backyard and mock campsite in their exhibit to show us what happens when you don’t properly clean up or bear proof your outdoor living spaces. Zookeepers and conservation experts will be on hand to teach you the safety tips you can follow to avoid dangerous encounters like this in your yard or on your next camping or hiking adventure.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

Through the zoo's Living Northwest conservation program, the spotlight also shines on other Pacific Northwest native wildlife with activities to help you learn how to coexist with wolves, raptors, butterflies and more.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Good night, sweet Nina

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Beautiful Nina. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A great grandmother and the bedrock of our gorilla groups, Nina passed away today at the age of 47.

The elderly gorilla had received such tender, specialized care from her keepers in her final geriatric years, but old age caught up with her today.

After a normal morning of eating and resting, Nina was not visible in any of her favorite spots in the exhibit later in the morning. When the keepers became concerned and started looking for her, she was spotted, not moving, under a large tree. Nina was taken to our veterinary hospital where animal care and veterinary staff made the humane decision to euthanize her.

Nina enjoying a birthday treat earlier this year. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Earlier this year many of you joined us for a special celebration in honor of Nina, her silverback mate Pete, as well as orangutan twins, Towan and Chinta, all of whom celebrated their 47th birthdays this winter. These ape old timers remind us how far we have come as a zoo and as a community.

Nina as an infant at Woodland Park Zoo.

In Nina’s lifetime, Woodland Park Zoo opened its first immersive exhibits and transformed the homes of its animals. Our veterinary science advanced in leaps and bounds, which allowed us to provide such extraordinary lifelong care for Nina. And our knowledge of gorillas greatly increased, learning from Nina’s incredible example as a mother—both biological and adoptive—grandmother and great grandmother.

Nina with daughter, Kami, born in 1977.

How many hearts she must have touched in her many years.

How many smiles she must have earned from children tickled by her signature, outthrust tongue.

How many minds she must have opened of those who found a bit of themselves reflected in her wise eyes.

We were lucky to have known you, Nina. Thank you.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby porcupine is here to add “porcupette” to your vocabulary

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

A baby porcupine is known as a porcupette. It’s the cutest vocabulary word you’re likely to use today, as we’re confident you’ll be sharing this little face with everyone you know:

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born last Friday, May 15, this North American porcupine baby, whose sex is not yet known, weighed just over a pound at birth. It’s now pushing about 1.5 pounds (700 grams).

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

We thought of a few other things that weigh 1.5 pounds, but 175 packets of sugar, or four and a half bananas, or a small pineapple don’t stand up to this cuteness—though the pineapple may give it a run for prickliness.

The resemblance is uncanny.
(left) A porcupine baby at Woodland Park Zoo in 2013, photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. (right) Growing pineapples, photo by Roman Lashkin via flickr Creative Commons.

About that prickliness. We get asked the question a lot and let us assure you—porcupettes are born with soft quills. They start to harden just a few hours after birth. 

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

For now, the baby is living with mom, Molly, in a behind-the-scenes den in Northern Trail. Molly leaves the den midday without the baby to stretch her legs and enjoy a feeding in the public exhibit. The father, Oliver, is temporarily in an adjacent exhibit to give mom and baby some space. 

The baby will soon begin venturing into the public exhibit with mom—it could be as early as this weekend!

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born with eyes open, porcupettes become active right away. You can see this little one on the move, making its way to its favorite napping spot in this video clip.  

View video on Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/284lhtpQaR

It’ll rapidly become more coordinated as it grows. Natural tree dwellers, their climbing instinct takes hold within weeks of birth. If you can climb, you can forage, and the little ones develop this skill early as they start to wean themselves from mom and transition to a diet of leaves, twigs and bark.

Photo by Jenny Pramuk/Woodland Park Zoo.

You may remember our most recent porcupette, Skyáana (a Haida name that means “to be awake”) who stole hearts last spring when she debuted. She is currently working with keepers on training to become part of our presentation animal program for up-close animal encounters. Look for her in future programs coming soon!

Skyáana, now being trained as a presentation animal, nibbles on a biscuit behind the scenes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Celebrate Endangered Species Day by Thanking a Tiger Hero

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Today is Endangered Species Day, a time to reflect on the importance of wildlife conservation and restoration efforts for all imperiled species and those who work to protect them.

Malayan tiger, Eko spies on our photographer. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

With the opening of our newest exhibit, Banyan Wilds, we’ve welcomed three young Malayan tigers to Woodland Park Zoo. It’s difficult to put into words how precious these individual creatures are, not only in our care, but precious in their very existence. When we began this immense project just a few years ago—the exhibit design, the Tigers Forever: Kenyir-Taman Negara,Malaysia Project and our Show Your Stripes advocacy campaign—we were under the impression that only 500 Malayan tigers were left in the wild. A daunting statistic. Since then, researchers and camera traps have revealed that number is even less; instead there may be fewer than 350 individuals that remain.

What can we do? Together, we can save tigers.
  • We can work with 27 other Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos within the Malayan tiger Species Survival Plan to assure genetic diversity in a captive population of 59 animals and growing.
  • We can build strong partnerships with organizations like Panthera, the Malayan government as well as local police and conservation rangers. We can provide financial and technical support to Rimba, Pemantua-Hijau and MyCat which are non-profit organizations that coordinate and assist our on-the-ground work with Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, state government officials, other conservation organizations and indigenous communities.
  • We can support sustainable agricultural in tiger territory through the products in our homes.
  • We can promise to never purchase illegal animal products.
  • We can appreciate the tiger for the majestic and awe-inspiring beast that it is.
  • We can teach our children to love and respect them.
  • As a community, we can fall in love with tigers.
Field researcher Wai Yee checks a camera trap used to study tiger populations in the area.
Reuben Clements, conservation scientist and Rimba co-founder, treks with Vice President of Field Conservation at WPZ, Fred Koontz; the team visited camera trap sites to monitor tigers and other animals in the area.
Almost as important as the tangible boots on the ground is our reverence for and awareness of these highly endangered cats that are—by the way—completely within the realm of saving if we act together, and act quickly.

As an umbrella species, as an ambassador for countless animals and plants that share their habitat, these fierce creatures are quite capable of coming back from the brink of extinction. Given a chance, the Malayan tiger will rebound—ferocious, kingly, majestic, and precious indeed.

Spend a moment today to thank those who are dedicating their life’s work to protecting wild things and wild spaces.

Tiger heroes comes in many forms: A researcher who works to protect big cats by ensuring diversity of prey species in the area. A local ranger mitigating threats from poachers and habitat fragmentation by patrolling rural areas by foot or with camera traps. A grad student gauging anti-poaching methods. A government liaison working closely with indigenous communities to establish sustainable hunting and agriculture. A teacher who excites others about tiger conservation. A donor who supports non-profits in Peninsular Malaysia's Greater Taman Negara Region. A biologist who treks through the tropical forest to study migration patterns. A zoo visitor who simply cares about the future of their favorite animal.

There are myriad ways in which we could define tiger hero, but they all share one goal—to establish a sustainable and safe habitat for these endangered animals—to ensure their survival.

Olan peers at his  reflection in the tiger stream. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.


Leave your “thank you” as a comment below and we’ll bundle them all up and deliver them to our conservation partners working in the tropical forests of Malaysia. Or, feel free to e-mail us directly at zooinfo@zoo.org with the subject line “Thank a Tiger Hero.”

Kids (ages 3-10) are invited to enter our Thank a Tiger Hero art contest by visiting www.zoo.org/magazine.

All artwork entries will be sent to our partners in Malaysia to thank our conservation partners there. Entries received by June 15, 2015 are eligible to win a few tiger-worthy prizes: 

Grand prize (ages 7-10): A Zookeeper’s Life for Me sleepover experience for you and your favorite adult on August 15, 2015, complete with a pizza dinner!
Grand prize (ages 3-6): A tiger ZooParent adoption and plush.
Two lucky runners up (all ages eligible) will receive a Woodland Park Zoo t-shirt and 2 giraffe feeding tickets.

Use your imagination to fill the poster with a drawing, collage or cartoon to say ‘Thank You’ to a tiger hero—anything goes as long as it fits on the page (feel free to use the back too)!

Full contest rules and instructions can be found here.

Good luck and thank YOU for supporting Woodland Park Zoo and our conservation partners in Malaysia and all across the globe who protect wildlife and wild spaces.

A Tiger ZooParent Adoption supports animal care at the zoo and $5 from each donation will directly support conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two young river otters join the Northern Trail

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

His name is Zigzag, Ziggy for short, and he’s true to his name. One of two new arrivals to the Northern Trail, this 18-month-old river otter has been zigging this way and that on land and in water, investigating every inch of his new home, and getting to know Duncan, our resident 17-year-old otter.

Duncan and Ziggy swimming together. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

And now, Ziggy has encountered the most fascinating part of his new home, the part that will take the most getting used to…

…Valkyrie, a 1-year-old female river otter recently arrived from Pueblo Zoo.

She’s tiny yet mighty, according to her keepers. Valkyrie is visibly smaller and more nimble than Duncan and Ziggy, but don’t let her size fool you. She is a cute little otter with a big voice and powerful presence among the group.

Valkyrie on the move. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Ziggy is adventurous and active—named after the river that flows down Mount Hood through Zigzag Canyon—but given his youth and inexperience, he’s more comfortable with Duncan right now. Within two days of meeting, the boys had bonded and were synchronized swimming and wrestling together.

We anticipate the introductions between Ziggy and Valkyrie will take a little longer, as a male-female relationship is usually more complex than the one the quick-to-bond bachelor boys have together. As they spend more time with each other, they’ll grow more comfortable as they mature.

Valkyrie. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. 

The two young otters are a recommended breeding pair matched up through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program among accredited zoos to increase the genetic diversity and enhance the health of selected wildlife species.

River otters are among the many northwest species we’ll be celebrating at Bear Affair: Living Northwest Conservation presented by Brown Bear Car Wash coming up Sat., June 6. The otters will enjoy a live trout feeding during the event, and the fun continues with bear safety demonstrations—the grizzlies show you what happens when you don’t bear-proof your backyard or campsite—and more. Every time you visit the zoo, you help us conserve local wildlife through our Living Northwest conservation program. Mark your calendar for this extra special reason to visit and stay tuned for more event details!

Summer camp spotlight on Kinder Camp

Posted by: Jessie Maxwell, Education

Greetings from the desk of the Alpha Dog! We are almost finished with camp preparations since summer camp is—if you can believe it—only weeks away! I can’t wait to see all of the new and familiar faces arrive through our doors!

One of our most popular camps is Kinder Camp, designed for campers aged 3-5. Together, the camp staff and the children explore either the north or the south end of the zoo and use games, exploration and play to discover zoology and school-readiness around every corner!

Kinder campers using their feet like mountain goats!  Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, 2014.

Woodland Park Zoo’s summer camps are curricular-based, and Kinder Camp is no exception. Our highly trained staff is supplied with a compilation of activities, songs, games and crafts designed to achieve specific objectives outlined. Each day not only has science content objectives, but also social and emotional growth, gross and fine motor skills, and imaginative play objectives based on Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks.

The best part about it is when everything gets put together it turns into an amazingly good time! Kinder campers can be seen singing as they move from place to place, pretending to catch their prey (bubbles!), making bumpy toad crafts, hearing stories while they eat their snack, building with tree blocks, and a myriad of other playful and educational activities designed to spark their minds.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, 2014.

“When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them to feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit.” – Fred Rogers

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, 2014.

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, 2014.

Camp registration is still open, so act fast and register your researchers now!