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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sunbittern chick makes fluffy debut

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

The cutest, fluffiest little sunbittern chick hatched recently in the Tropical Rain Forest (TRF) canopy!  

Hello, little one!
At  two or three weeks old, it can already be seen stretching its legs and its trademark long, thin neck around the nest. If you are willing to crane your own neck a bit, you can get a good view!

Camouflage fluff keeps baby hidden in the nest.
Sunbitterns typically look for dips in tree branches to lay their eggs, lining the nests with mud, moss, plant fibers, and other soft materials. Females lay between one and two eggs, and both sexes share the nest guarding, incubation, and brooding duties.

Once the egg(s) hatches, usually in about thirty days, the parents will continue to share feeding and brooding duties.

A lesson in how to gulp grubs makes for a picture perfect image.
Sticking close to mom, for now.
Our chick fledged the nest recently and its downy plumage is already beginning to be replaced with adult feathers. Those same feathers will result in the sunbittern’s signature plumage, which when displayed with spread wings will appear to be a large, colorful set of eyes. The birds use the impressive display for courtship, and to deter potential threats and predators. 

The chick is already showing the beautiful linear patterns of black, grey and brown.
It’s been four years since our last sunbittern chick hatched and hand-reared by keeper staff. That same bird, a female, is now the mother of our newest chick !

Feed me! The chick will demand lots of snacks from its parents as it grows.
Once our new chick is grown and independent, its final home will be determined by the Species Survival Plan for sunbitterns, which Woodland Park Zoo coordinates for accredited conservation zoos nationally.

But until then, pay a visit to the TRF canopy and be sure to look up!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Home Sweet Home Thanks to Seattle Park District Funds

Posted by Kizz Prusia, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

There really is no place like home. Home is where we rest, relax and where we go to recharge. For our residents—the 1,200 animals who call Woodland Park Zoo home— home is where they snooze, play, explore and snack.

Seeing Woodland Park Zoo as a home is crucial to how we care for our animals—and just like your home—the zoo needs improvement from time to time to stay in top condition.

We are extremely grateful to Seattle voters for passing the Seattle Park District ballot measure nearly three years ago. The funding provided by the Park District—about $1.8 million a year—goes toward maintaining our dens, trees, caves, hot rocks, roofs and watering holes.

With this funding, we are able to update old parts of the zoo and keep new parts well-maintained. We consider this “home improvement” to also be preventative maintenance. We’d like to highlight a couple of important projects we have done around the zoo this year.  


Keep warm, keep well 



Some of our favorite memories are made around warmth. Snuggled up under blankets, cozy and sharing the heat with people we love. Baby gorilla Yola and mom Nadiri share the warmth with each other in the gorilla den they call home.

The gorilla dens at the zoo just got a major upgrade. With the design and final installation of a new air-handling and heating system, the gorillas will be cozy for months to come. These additions were completed at the end of September. This type of improvement allows the zoo to continue to provide excellent welfare just in time for the winter months. Thanks to Seattle Park District funding for making it possible to stay cozy. 


Walk this way



The zoo’s Northern Trail Boardwalk replacement project has begun! With Seattle Park District funding, Woodland Park Zoo will be able to entirely replace the original wood structure which has stood since 1993.

The Northern Trail mimics the habitat of Alaska’s tundra and taiga region and features animals that make this area their home including: brown bears, Roosevelt elk, river otters, snowy owls, mountain goat and Steller’s sea eagles. The new design was completed in June of 2017, followed by construction, which will continue throughout the end of the year. The new boardwalk leading in and out of the area will make it easier for guests to visit the animals and was made possible by Park District funding.

Could I trouble you for some browse?



When we are not busy making changes for home improvement and preventative maintenance we are busy sharing meals with those we love. At the zoo meals for several animals is browse—branches, twigs, and other forms of vegetation—and is typically collected by the horticulture team. 

This past month the zoo’s Horticulture team received a helping hand from City of Seattle Parks and Recreation. After hearing from the zoo, Parks promptly responded and helped the zoo collect willow and alder to be shared by #seattlestallestdad Dave. In all, two truckloads of browse were dumped at the giraffe barn.

Although there is an existing connection to Parks through the Seattle Parks District, this food gathering was a unique experience. This was the first joint collection of browse between Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Parks for Dave. We plan on continuing this collection work together moving forward.

We are very thankful to Seattle voters and Seattle Parks for helping us make the zoo a better home for all of our animals! 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Welcome Joy and Scarlet, new maned wolves

Posted by Alissa Wolken, Woodland Park Zoo
Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

We have some new long-legged creatures to introduce you to! We welcomed two female maned wolves, sisters Joy and Scarlet, from the Little Rock Zoo in mid-October. You can now visit them at their exhibit in the zoo’s Wildlife Survival Zone.

Neither a fox nor a wolf, Chrysocyon is a species all its own with stilt-like legs, a pointed muzzle, an impressive red coat and dark mane along the back.
At home in the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America, these crepuscular canines roam the marshes and woodlands at dawn and dusk in search of fruit, small mammals, birds, eggs and invertebrates. 


The arrival of Joy and Scarlet followed the departure of the our sole maned wolf, Vinny. Vinny was recommended to be sent to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to be paired with a female for breeding under the maned wolf Species Survival Plan, explains Shawn Pedersen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. Little Rock Zoo was looking for a home for their two young females, so we were able to move Joy and Scarlet here.

Since arriving in mid-October, the nearly 1-year-old sisters (born December 21, 2016) are settling into their new home quite well. “These two are young, playful and are adjusting well to their new surroundings,” says Pedersen. “Joy and Scarlet are relaxed around people; they even take their food gently from the zookeepers.” Some of the girls’ favorite foods include any meat or prey items, dry kibble and bananas; one of their least favorite foods is tomatoes. Other things the girls have in common, “they love chasing sprinklers and they seem to be avid hunters.”

Maned wolves aren’t as vocal as other wild dogs; instead they use their pungent urine as a clear form of communication.
In their short time at Woodland Park Zoo, Joy and Scarlet’s animal care team has also picked up on physical and behavioral traits that individualize the girls. “Joy is the dominant and more aloof wolf,” said Pedersen. “Scarlet is much less shy around people and the more playful of the two. Physically, the biggest difference seems to be the tips of their ears. Though subtle, Scarlet's ears have more of a flattish top.”

Maned wolves are large canids that have fox-like characteristics, an impressive red coat, large ears, and stilt-like legs, adapted for living in the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America, from Brazil to the dry shrub forests of Paraguay and northern Argentina.

A maned wolf can tell a lot by sniffing another’s scent mark. Often used as a means of marking territory, the strong “perfume” can act as a warning to other maned wolves up to a mile away.
In the wild, the gentle and timid maned wolves are primarily solitary, although a breeding pair usually remains monogamous and shares the same territory. Maned wolves are listed as near threatened due to loss of habitat by encroaching human populations, the introduction of certain diseases and hunting for their body parts, believed to have medicinal healing powers. Only about 13,000 remain in the wild.

Curious and always checking out the scents in their new digs.
Accredited zoos are responding to species decline and are leading the way in preserving animal populations, including maned wolves. Conservation breeding of threatened and endangered animals is conducted through Species Survival Plans (SSP), conservation breeding programs coordinated through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 108 SSPs. 

Testing out Pumpkin Bash treats in late October.