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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.