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Showing posts from 2007

Just a bit of necking

Giraffes are one of the most popular animals at the zoo, being recognizable to the youngest of kids. During summer 2007 we offered, for the first time, the opportunity for people to feed the giraffes up close. Using their favorite leafy branches, this gave a chance for people to view these magnificent animals "face to tongue" as it were as one of their most notable features is their nearly two-foot long purplish-black tongues. It really provides a lot of impact to see them this close. Something no TV program could ever hope to match!

We hope to resume giraffe feedings in May 2008. Thanks to Chris Zempel for sending this great photo of two of our giraffes.

'Tis the Tiger Season

Hadiah the Sumatran tiger turned 1 year old today and was treated to a special holiday-themed treat: a paper-mache "reindeer." To attract her, keeper rubbed musk, a favorite sensory treat, to the outside of the paper critter and she rolled, ripped and thoroughly enjoyed her day, even though she didn't know it was her birthday!

As a special treat for you, we've created a Hadiah screensaver for your computer. Simply click on the photo, download and follow your computer's settings to load as your screensaver. Enjoy!

Rain, rain go away...

The recent torrential rainfall fortunately had minimal effects at the zoo, though a few flooded areas made for a few "bucket brigades" to bail out some indoor areas, but fortunately all the animals made it through safe and sound.

From Saturday at 21:00 through Monday @ 18:00 the rain gauge recorded 6.36 inches. The weather station is perched on top of our Zoomazium and the data it records will eventually be used in educational programming at the zoo and in our school outreach programs. During the most intense period (Sunday 21:00-Monday 18:00) there was 4.85 inches with peak intensities of 0.41 in/hr on Monday morning. Thanks to all the employees whose jobs demanded they weather the storm!

Bushbaby Brothers

The bushbabies born on November 1 received an exam today to determine their overall health and get weights. They are growing and putting on pounds (well, grams actually!) and appear to be males (it's a little tough to tell as this age!). Mama bushbaby is a good mother, is very protective but allowed the Animal Health staff to quickly examine the little fellows without too much fuss. Although they may resemble something from "Gremlins", they are quite gentle.

Photos by Ryan Hawk.

Khali goes to Washington

Our female sloth bear has pulled up stakes and is headed to Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding program. Khali was the mother of two male cubs born here nearly three years ago. SSP programs make recommendations for the breeding of endangered species in zoos in order to maintain genetically healthy and diverse zoo populations. At National Zoo she will be introduced to a new male and hopefully will produce more cubs in this species of bear hailing from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and SriLanka. These unusual bears are known for their long, bushy coats, white chest crescent and their incredibly long tongues which they use for slurping up insects and honey from the crevasses of logs. If you're in D.C., stop by the National Zoo to see their new sloth bear exhibit and to visit Khali. Photo by Dale Unruh

Senior (animal) citizens

The Seattle Times published a very informative article last Sunday (November 25) about "animal senior citizens" here at the zoo. Most people don't realize that many animals in zoos are geriatric, far outliving the "average" lifespan that they would in the wild. This is due to many factors including the simple fact they do not have predators, but also due to the advance veterinary medicine practiced in zoos. Older animals are still prone to many of the same things that humans are afflicted with: arthritis, cancers, et al, but with wildlife medicine constantly changing and evolving, they are leading fuller, active lives. Veterinary medicine practiced in zoos also often leads to advances in procedures, treatments and medicines that are used to help animals in the wild.

Check out the article and learn more about geriatric animal care:

Turkey Toss at the Zoo - Saturday, November 17, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

The animals at the zoo get the opportunity to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday with the Turkey Toss begin held this coming Saturday, November 17. Carnivorous critters will receive turkeys--some whole, others get choice bits--are a part of the zookeepers’ ongoing efforts to help enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally and physically stimulated and provide added enjoyment for zoo visitors. A full schedule of each animal to receive turkey treats will be posted at zoo gates.
Photo by Ryan Hawk.

Author of The Zookeeper's Wife to speak at Benaroya

Author Diane Ackerman will be speaking at Benaroya Hall on November 19. You may recognize her name as the author of the best-selling book, The Zookeeper's Wife, an amazing true tale tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. It's an amazing story of the people whose love of animals carried through to help save hundreds from certain death.

Diane Ackerman - a Guggenheim Fellow, Lavan Poetry Prize winner, and recipient of the John Burroughs Nature Award - brings poetry to science and science to poetry. The author of the lyrical nonfiction bestseller A Natural History of the Senses and An Alchemy of Mind, a poetics of the brain based on recent neuroscience, she has also written Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire and nature books for children.

Seattle Arts & Lectures is…

Bushbabies born!

Two new bushbabies (also called lesser galagos) were born in the zoo's Night Exhibit on November 1. The lesser galago is one of the smallest primates, about the size of a squirrel and weighing in at less than half an ounce. Despite their size, they can be exceptionally vocal, producing loud, shrill cries surprisingly like those of a human baby. The plaintive cries and "cute" appearance may account for the name "bush baby." The lesser galago and its larger cousin, the greater galago, are both arboreal and nocturnal in their habits and are found in the woodlands of East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
The tiny babies will probably not be visible for sometime as they are nurtured by their mother. (Photo by Helen Shewman)

Baby gorilla born at the zoo!!

Everyone was extremely happy when a brand new baby gorilla was born here this Saturday, October 20 at around 3:30 a.m. The baby, a female, is the 12th gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo and the third for the parents, Amanda (37 years) and Vip (28 years). This morning, mother and baby were out in the public exhibit since temperatures were so balmy and mother and baby appeared to be bonding very well.

All the gorillas in the group are very interested in the newborn, especially Amanda and Vip’s other two daughters, 9-year-old Ngozi and 5-year-old Calaya.

As we are able to get more photos and video, we'll post them to the zoo's website, but here's a "teaser" shot for now! Photo by Ryan Hawk.

The leaves are falling

It's not quite Vermont, but the color of the season is in full swing at the zoo. The several types of maple trees on the grounds are brilliant in their oranges, reds and yellows right now as are many other types of trees and plants. The 92 acres of the zoo offers hundreds of great opportunities to see some beautiful plants, even during fall and winter! (Take a look at the aerial shot of the zoo below.)

Several other plants are blossoming right now, too! To see a few, take a look at the What's in Bloom:

What Would You Do With Zoo Doo?

KIRO tv recently visited the zoo to film an iWitness Video presentation of lucky Zoo Doo lottery winners picking up their loads of rich, composted Zoo Doo. For those of you not in the know, Zoo Doo is the waste-products left from the zoo's herbivores (elephants, giraffe, hippo, gazelle and many more) that is gathered up and composted into an incredibly rich and fertile soil additive coveted by gardeners. The original idea for Zoo Doo came about more than 20 years ago when costs for disposal of the animals' waste was getting expensive, so it was decided to compost it back into a usable product for on grounds. The idea grew and now each year we host a Fall and Spring Fecal Fest that people can enter a lottery to win loads of the fecund fecal fallout. Now it's also recognized that this is a great way to reduce landfill and bring in a little extra money as well.

To view the video

To read more about Zoo Doo, visit this section of our…

Mountain gorillas at risk

There is a disturbing article in the October issue of Smithsonian Magazine about recent incursions into mountain gorilla habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The article details the account of three mountain gorillas were slaughtered by rebel forces for food. So called "bushmeat" continues to be a threat for many species, but is particularly detrimental to the tiny populations of mountain gorillas which number perhaps 800 total in their three range countries.

Read the complete article:
The online version doesn't contain the disturbing shots of villagers bringing the three gorillas' bodies out of the forest to be buried.

Woodland Park Zoo supports two conservation programs focusing on gorillas: the Mbeli Bai Project that studies western lowland gorillas in the Congo and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Bushmeat Task Force which helps with programs to help curtail the bushmeat trade in Africa …

Critter Photos

We have many wonderful and extremely talented volunteer photographers who help us document the zoo and our animals. These folks include Brittney Bollay, Dennis Dow, Mat Hayward and Dale Unruh among our most prodigious and frequent shutterbugs. Mat recently created a slideshow on his blog that documents some of his recent shots. Visit him and tell him what you think?

A yummy fall meal

People seem to notice the beautiful orb weaver spiders much more as the chilly fall weather begins. This is perhaps due mostly to the fact that the dew makes their elaborate web much more visible.

Here's a great shot by our zoo photographer Ryan Hawk of an orb weaver with a "dangerous" meal---a hornet. It's amazing that the spiders are able to wrap-up these stinging critters safely. This photo is a great reminder of what a service spiders perform for us by gobbling up things that we consider pests!
So even if spiders make you a bit edgy, remember they're out there working hard for you!

Last few days of Butterflies & Blooms for the year!

Sunday, September 30 is the last day for our Butterflies & Blooms exhibit for 2007. The butterfly exhibit is one of our most popula perennial exhibits. If you haven't gotten to see it yet this year, you've got until Sunday, otherwise it's a long wait until next May! Photo by Ryan Hawk

Sukari the giraffe, 1982-2007

Staff and volunteers were saddened when Sukari, the elderly female giraffe on our African Savanna exhibit, had to be euthanized due to declining health because of age. At 25, she was extremely geriatric (giraffes in the wild usually live to be 10-15 years). Our expert Exhibits crew helped make her passing more comfortable by rigging a special platform for her to lay in. She had also had a custom-made waterbed for the last four years for her to lie down on. Keepers and the Animal Health team have been instrumental over the last few years to keep Sukari as comfortable as possible during her "golden years." Anyone with an old dog or cat knows how difficult it can be to care for an aging animal; just image when that animal is 18-feet tall!

For zoo guests who grew up and remember visiting Sukari over the last 25 years, we've created a commemorative portrait, taken by our talented volunteer photographer Dennis Dow, available for purchase online through Pictopia. You can order b…

Taking flight with a Northwest endangered butterfly

Woodland Park Zoo has participated in the Oregon silverspot butterfly breeding project for the last since 2000. These beautiful butterflies have not been seen in the wild, mostly the dunes and meadows along the Washington, Oregon and northern California coast, since 1990. Wanting to head off extinction, WPZ, along with Oregon Zoo and support from the Washington and U.S. Departments of Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service and Lewis and Clark College are "headstarting" silverspots for release at our two zoos. We bring in eggs and care for them over the winter until they pupate. Just last month, staff from WPZ took down 162 pupated silverspots for release into a protected area on the Oregon Coast. In total, we have produced 492 pupae for release.
We're happy to be helping one of our native butterflies survive and eventually thrive once again in our region.

Trees for critters and people

Most of our conservation projects help people as much as animals. The African Waterhole and Dam Restoration project helps wildlife and the Maasai in Kenya, the newly funded Kibale Community Fuel Wood Project plants trees that are used both as sustainable fuel for the villagers who live near Uganda's Kibale National Park, but also create habitat for monkeys, chimps and other animals.

Because of this, we recognize the power that Nobel prize winner Dr. WangariMaathai's Green Belt Movement in Africa has had. Dr. WangariMaathai has defied custom, tradition, and her own government to carry out the groundbreaking reforestation and human rights work that won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Maathai’s Green Belt Movement, which has planted millions of trees across Africa, simultaneously embraces democracy and has played a crucial role in shaping modern Kenyan society. On September 19, she opens Seattle Arts & Lectures’ 20th anniversary season to speak of her place as a visionary o…

Taking a spin on the historic carousel

The zoo's "new" historic carousel is nearly 100 years old. Recently, one of the chariots was retrofitted to accommodate wheelchairs. It doesn't happen that often, but this week at the carousel we were happy to be able to give rides to about four disabled kids in wheelchairs. They were wheeled onto the ride, safely strapped in and off they went! It is very rewarding to be able to accommodate rides for disabled kids in wheelchairs, especially when we see the joy it brings to them.

The carousel, a gift from Linda and Tom Allen and the Alleniana Foundation, opened last year and has been delighting everyone who rides the hand-crafted, antique horses. Funds from the carousel ticket sales help the zoo by providing money for animal care and other operating expenses. And it's just plain fun! - Photo of carousel in "full spin" by Ryan Hawk

Appreciating the snow leopard

On August 18, the zoo is hosting the first Snow Leopard Appreciation Day from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. As you may know, snow leopards live in the mountainous areas in Central Asia and are increasingly endangered, with perhaps only about 3,000 or so left in the wild. Back in the 1980s, the zoo's former Education Curator, Helen Freeman, was particularly struck with these beautiful cats and formed the International Snow Leopard Trust, the oldest organization working to protect these cats. Over the years, the pressure on these animals has increased with people in snow leopard range areas poaching the animals for the illegal fur market or to protect their herds of goats and sheep that they rely on. What is now the Snow Leopard Trust, works with herding communities on anti-poaching programs and also has collaborated to create co-ops and other small businesses to help these people make a living from something other than poaching and to replace any income that may be lost from snow leopards…

Maasai Journey: Controversy?

This summer the zoo launched its Maasai Journey, a presentation that highlighted the animals of East Africa. Part of Maasai Journey is the opportunity to meet and speak with four Maasai in person. Kibole, Kakuta, Kenneth and Sipoi are four Maasai hailing from a small, rural community in Maasailand in southern Kenya. The Maasai in their village, Merrueshi, are pastoralists, raising cattle for food. Because of this they live in very close proximity to African wildlife including giraffe, lions, zebra, hyenas and other animals that live on the savanna.

Kakuta Ole Hamisi, a junior elder at Merrueshi, has worked at the zoo the past six years, giving presentations about life in Maasailand, the challenges to his people and to the wildlife they share the land with. This summer, Kibole, Kenneth and Sipoi joined him at the zoo to give presentations that help paint a fuller picture of life in Kenya in a rural setting, which is mimicked in our African Village exhibit. The Maasai here are educators,…

More baby tapir photos

Due to her popularity (apparently her videos are a very popular discussion in the local clubs!), here are more photos of our new tapir calf. Right now, we are in contact with the zoo's Director of Animal Health, Dr. Darin Collins, who is in Indonesia working on the avian flu situation. He is going to hook the zoo up with a school in Sumatra to have the kids help us name the tapir. We hope to accomplish this in the next few months. - Photos by Ryan Hawk

Snow Leopard Day is coming - August 18!

The zoo is celebrating 25 years of partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust, the Seattle-based organization dedicated to the preservation of snow leopards and snow leopard habitat. By working with the people living in snow leopard areas, SLT has influenced a number of programs including anti-poaching initiatives and creating opportunities for indigenous people in Tibet and other countries in snow leopard range countries to earn money from sources other than poaching.

Join us and the Snow Leopard Trust on Saturday, August 18 to celebrate Snow Leopard Day at the Zoo! Lots of crafts, entertainment and information on how you can help snow leopards.

Tapir makes public debut!

Our little female tapir calf, born July 3, made her unofficial public debut with her mother today in the Tropical Asia exhibit. Now weighing in at a hefty 61 pounds, the baby stuck close to her mom, but soon ventured up to the glass viewing area to the delight of zoo visitors (and staff, too!).

With the nicer weather, we hope to have her out daily (weather permitting, of course). Tomorrow she will hopefully be on public view with her mom beginning around noon.

You'll notice the spots and stripes on her--very different from the black with white "belt" on the adults. This is used as camouflage---much like the spots on a deer fawn---until they start to fade and turn black and white similar to their parents. Malayan tapirs are endangered in their range due to hunting and habitat loss.

A flurry of wings

Butterflies & Blooms is one of the zoo's most popular exhibits. Because the butterflies are native species to the U.S., the exhibit is seasonal, operating in the summer months when these species would normally be breeding and flying. With several dozen species, from the striped zebra longwings to even an occasional dramatic-looking luna moth, the B&B tent is a nice respite from walking around the zoo's 92 acres!

Turtles hit the ponds!

The release of 50 western pond turtles went well into a protected pond in Pierce County. Due to our headstarting program, their population has grown from a low of around 150 to more than 1,500! Here, zoo staff member Walter English paints a tracking number on one of the juvenile turtles shells. Thanks for the zoo's curator of reptiles, Dana Payne, for sending this photo.

Pond turtles get released into the wild

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17, the zoo will be releasing endangered western pond turtles (Clemmys marmorata), some with tiny radio transmitters glued to their shells, into the wild in Pierce County. A portion of the group of 50 turtles will be released in Mason County. The 10-month-old turtles were collected from the wild as hatchlings and “head started” at Woodland Park Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Invasive bull frogs often eat the young hatchlings, so the headstarting provides a way for the young turtles to grow to a size that is too large for the frogs to consume. The turtles currently weigh about 2 ounces.

Woodland Park Zoo, along with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Zoo have collaborated for more than a decade, raising turtles and letting them loose in protected ponds in Washington. From an all-time low of only around 100 turtles left in the state, this headstarting has swelled their population to more than 1,200!

Hadiah in the big world

Today was the perfect day for Hadiah to make her first forays out into the outdoor tiger exhibit. She rambunctiously played, sniffed and rolled around in the bushes while visitors looked on. Only around 400 Sumatran tigers still exist in the wild; each birth is cause for celebration to help keep genetically viable populations intact. How can you help tigers? Watch what you buy (for example, plam oil, which is in thousands of products, comes primarily from Indonesia where forests are being destroyed to plant palm oil plantations, so look for foods and products that do not contain it); don't buy exotic wood products that aren't from certified sustainable forestry practices; donate to organizations helping to conserve tigers and their habitat.

Hadiah enjoys the sun

Hadiah, our 7-month-old Sumatran tiger, will make her outdoor debut on Wednesday, July 11. She and her mother, Jo Jo, will romp and play (and probably do a lot of sleeping in our recent heatwave!). She will be out daily from around 11:00 a.m. to around 2:00 p.m.

Come and visit them!

First exam

On July 4, the new tapir calf received her first neo-natal exam by associate veterinarian, Dr. John Ochensreiter. A quick weigh-in, a blood sample and some other tests and she's checks out well. Neo-natal exams are important in order to make sure that all the vital signs are normal and that the calf's overall health is good. Exams happen very quickly so that the calf can be returned to her mother. But mom received snacks while the baby was being looked over so she didn't even miss her!

Stripes for the 4th!

After eagerly being anticipated for weeks, we were pleased when our female Malayan tapir, Kelang, gave birth to a healthy calf on July 3 at around 7:20 p.m. The 26-pound, female Malayan tapir calf marks the fourth birth for the 12-year-old parents. Striped and looking not unlike a four-legged watermelon, Malaysian tapirs only number somewhere between 900-3,000 in the wild.

The calf will be off-view for awhile while the mother bonds with her, but a "tapir cam" is at the exhibit where zoo visitors can see them inside their indoor barn. Tapir gestation is approximately 13 months and an average birth weight is 22 pounds. A newborn tapir has a reddish-brown coat dappled with white and cream-colored spots and stripes. The unique coat pattern helps provide excellent camouflage in bamboo or reed jungles. The striped pattern begins fading after a few months and adult coloration appears by 5-8 months old.

Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world, changing little in …

A New Roar at the Zoo!

There will soon be a pair of new roars at the zoo. A new male lion, 8 years old, has arrived at the zoo and will live in the lion exhibit. The 424-pound African feline arrived in April from Knoxville Zoo. A new 8-year-old female arrived at the end of May from the Virginia Zoo. The lions belong to the South African subspecies, Panthera leo krugeri, and will be paired for breeding in the future. They will be introduced to their grassy new exhibit later this year. Photo by Ryan Hawk

Rainy days and Mondays

After a gorgeous weekend and more than 4,000 zoo visitors on Saturday and nearly as many on Sunday, Monday is gray and dreary! However, the Day Exhibit, which has dozens of reptiles on exhibit, the historic carousel and the other indoor exhibits are very popular.

Hadiah, the Sumatran tiger cub, has had her tremendous growth spurt slow down a bit. She was given a beef bone and cinammon sprinkled on a couple of rocks in her exhibit. Felines love spices and she loves to sniff around looking for the many hidden treats. She still gets a kick out of dunking her stuffed animals in her water tub.