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Our Exhibits Crew: Making Our Green Wishes Come True!

Posted by Barbara Segal, Intern
Don’t you wish you had a fairy godmother who could transform your old stuff into something new and beautiful? Or maybe little elves that came out at night and made useful things for you from the odds and ends in your home? Someone at your zoo must have made a wish like that, because we have a whole guild of magicians who transform fallen trees, disassembled fences, and general almost-rubbish into things that our animals, keepers and guests use every day. Our exhibits team knows how to reuse, not only saving natural resources, but saving money so we can put more toward our animals and conservation.  Last winter, downed trees and branches were everywhere after the 2018 Snowpocalypse. Lots of us put them in our yard waste. But did our team? No way. All those great trunks and branches were put in storage yards, along with the remains of trees removed because they were sick or hazardous. There they wait eagerly for the myriad of new lives they can have at th…
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Mountain goat Daisy and mom Bluebelle are getting ready for a big move!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We've spent a year watching this kid grow up, and now it's time for her and her mother to move to a new home! Last summer, Woodland Park Zoo hailed the birth of a mountain goat, the first one born at the zoo in 23 years. The female goat, Daisy, sparked excitement and her cuteness made us gave us all the feels.
Now it's time for Daisy and mom Bluebelle to move to a new home. Mother and daughter will be heading to Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, N.D., where they will join a male mountain goat in a newly remodeled exhibit—but you can still come see them here through September 30.  Their departure will leave two mountain goats remaining at the zoo: Atlin, half-sister of Bluebelle, and Zeus, a young male. 

Daisy was born in June 2018 to then 2-year-old mom Bluebelle and 4-year-old dad Albert, who has since moved to another zoo. She and mom have lived in the high rocky crags and ledges in the zoo’s award-winning Northern Trail habitat with Atlin a…

Farm to Paw: Feasting green with a sustainable Commissary

Posted by Barbara Segal, Intern

Have you ever seen our bears daintily eat their salmon? Or watched as our hungry hippos chomp a melon? How about watching our warty pigs nibble on a wreath of roses? Every day at our zoo animals from snails to rhinos feast on the tasty and nutritious meals provided by their dedicated keepers. Meeting the snack needs of over 1,100 animals is no easy task. The powerhouse of this operation is the Commissary, our central food preparation station. And our Commissary staff have been thinking sustainability! The choices we make when sourcing and preparing food for our animals can have echoes in the natural habitats of animals worldwide. Let’s follow the trail of treats to see how they do it.

First, our team is choosy about where the animals’ food comes from. They work hard to get produce, meats and more from sources that are as local as possible. Sourcing locally means fewer fossil fuels are used to get the food to us. In fact, some of the browse for our plan…

Hip-hippo-hooray for a big birthday girl and a celebration of African wildlife!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

A horse is a horse, of course of course, but a hippo is … well, let’s start with the fact that it’s larger than a horse. Technically the word “hippopotamus” comes from ancient Greek words meaning “horse of the river” but while both animals are four-legged mammals the similarities seemingly end there.
The common hippo (as opposed to the pygmy hippo) is native to sub-Saharan Africa where they spend hot days submerged in rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. Their bodies are perfectly adapted to life in the water, with the location of their eyes, ears and nostrils at the top of their heads. This allows a hippo to see, hear, breathe and smell above the water while keeping the rest of its bulky body submerged. After sundown, these large herbivores come out of the water to graze and forage in the grasslands that surround their watery homes. Next to elephants and white rhinos, the hippopotamus is the third largest living land mammal. The average adult…

Connectivity, Recovery, Separation, and Inspiration: Finding a path to coexistence

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives

The last time I wrote, I discussed the importance of connectivity to conservation, both right here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. I wanted to write more because of something that was said during a recent meeting I attended with a range of stakeholders from around the region. The meeting’s focus was on helping to co-design an upcoming zoo exhibit about our own Living Northwest.

We were discussing the strategic framework for our Living Northwest Program’s field work, where we have multiple projects aimed at recovery of species such as wolves and wolverines (as they return to Washington after decades of having been driven to extinction in the state), and also aimed at improving coexistence between people and wildlife once the wildlife has recovered (or as people expand into wilderness habitat).

Our Tribal partner representative, Matt Echohawk-Hayashi, from the Headwater Group, took those ideas—“recovery” …

Keeping the Lights On: Understanding the connections that power conservation

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives

“Connectivity: the state or extent of being connected or interconnected.”

The definition of connectivity feels incredibly simple, yet there’s something strangely insightful in there. Small children immediately understand the idea—putting together puzzles, linking construction toys to make bigger toys, drawing lines to bring different images into contact with one another. That simple concept of connectivity extends into adulthood, as we begin to connect ideas to one another—which is when deep understanding and inspired solutions often occur.

Connectivity in its simplest form is what first really attracted me to the natural world. I was, and continue to be, spellbound by how the natural world is interconnected. Ecosystems immediately struck me as enormously complicated jigsaw puzzles that I desperately wanted to solve.

Some pieces, like the gray squirrel, could fit almost anywhere there are trees. Others, like the fig w…

Raptor takes researcher north to Alaska to look at a special winter visitor

Posted by Jim Watson, Wildlife Research Scientist, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Jim Watson is a friend of the zoo and works with our Living Northwest Conservation Program's Raptor Ecology of the Shrub-Steppe Project. Jim has partnered with us for years and we are excited to share his most recent adventures in raptor research:

When Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Woodland Park zoo started our cooperative raptor studies in the shrub-steppe of the Pacific Northwest 20 years ago we probably didn’t envision we were embarking on such a long-term journey. This productive relationship has delved into important projects including migration studies of ferruginous hawks and golden eagles, and how human activities like construction of wind turbines and lead contamination in prey are affecting these iconic raptors. We took advantage of a recent opportunity to look in a little different direction for our cooperative studies within the shrub-steppe raptor community.