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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 8 of '08

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

What are your unforgettable 2008 zoo moments? Share with us in the comments!

Here’s my personal countdown of favorite zoo happenings in 2008:

Bears get winter tree-treats

Posted by: Alicia Marlow, Communications

The grizzly bears got a special winter treat this week.

Part of our Winter Celebration enrichment for the animals, zoo staffers got out of the office and joined keepers in decorating some trees in the bears’ exhibit with spaghetti noodles, slices of pineapple, cherries, marshmallows, and even some honey. The volunteers did a good job of making the trees look festive, despite the strong winds blowing the treats all around! Once the two grizzlies were let back into their exhibit, they wasted no time splitting up and each went to a different tree to enjoy the goodies.

As the many people that came to see the bears watched, the bears themselves had a little trouble with the wind in their excitement. One had to rebalance himself and step back while the other decided the best way to solve the problem was to sit as close to the tree as he could, even if it meant breaking some branches!

Photos by Ryan Hawk.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The history of snow

Our recent bit of nasty winter weather certainly isn't unprecedented here at the zoo. Back in 1916, the "Great Snowstorm of 1916" occurred the end of January through the beginning of February of that year. All of Phinney Ridge was heavily blanketed under snow for many days. Pictured here are a couple shots from our archives: the first shows the former Primate House, built in 1911 and has the distinction of being the zoo's first heated structure. The building was demolished in 2005 and the location is now the site of Zoomazium. The photographer's location would have been about there the exit is for the Tropical Rain Forest dome is now, looking west towards the Lemur Island exhibit.

The second shot is of the "umbrella exhibit," a netted pool which housed ducks and/or seals. The Primate House is visible in the background to the right and the old bear cages (replaced with open grottos in 1950 and now housing Asian bears and Sumatran tigers). The photographer would have also been looking west, near the current site of the zoo's main restrooms.

We hope you are all safe during this most recent "great snowstorm" and we'll also like to give kudos to our keepers, grounds and maintenance staff, volunteers and many others who braved the elements to care for the animals.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow makes the zoo picture perfect

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Savvy zoo visitors know that while snowfall at the zoo might make it hard to spot some of the animals, others are picture perfect out in the elements. The novel weather brings out the inquisitive nature in many zoo animals and creates a beautiful backdrop for shutterbugs.

Here are some of my favorite photos our zoo photographers have snapped of Woodland Park Zoo’s residents in the Seattle snow:

If you snap any great snow photos at the zoo, please upload them to our Facebook page fan photo album or add them to the slideshow featured on our blog sidebar by tagging them on flickr.com with the phrase “woodlandparkzoo.”

Photos by Ryan Hawk and Dennis Dow.

Know any synanthropes?

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

Consider this your "word of the day." Synanthropes are defined as animals that have adapted to human environments. These would include crows, rats, opossums, raccoons...you get the idea! Recently, a student performed his master's thesis on wild crows that made their home on the grounds of a south-central New York state zoo. The student designed a vending machine that would dispense peanuts when the crows pushed coins into a slot. The wily crows soon caught on, realizing that when they put coins in, food came out. Slowly the coins were removed which prompted the black birds to start scouring the zoo grounds for loose coins. The experiment was so successful that the student founded the Synanthropy Foundation in order to study synanthropic behavior in other animals. Now if my cat would just learn to make me breakfast...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Part Two: Did You Know?

And now for Part II of our Did You Know blog series tackling some of the most frequently asked questions from zoo fans and visitors about how the zoo works.

Keep this one in mind over the holidays before you purchase any animals as gifts that may not be wanted or easily cared for:

Did you know? We can’t accept donated animals

Many times throughout the year, we are contacted by members of the public, requesting that we “adopt” their unwanted animal, mostly birds and reptiles such as boas, pythons, lizards and others. For the most part, we cannot accept these animals for a variety of reasons. First is the sheer number of animals; if we accepted every green iguana we were asked to take, we would quickly be an iguana-only zoo! Second is health. Every animal that comes to the zoo must enter a quarantine period to ensure they are in general good health and are not exhibiting any symptoms of potentially contagious diseases. This not only affects them, it could affect the health of animals (and people) already at the zoo. And third is provenance. We make every effort to know the origin of the animal in our care so that we have an idea of genetic background and health. Many animals, particularly reptiles and birds, may have come to this country through the illegal pet trade, or from unethical breeders. Without firm knowledge of their background, animals could harbor disease or genetic problems that could affect them, and potential progeny, down the line.

So what should you do if you have an animal you need to give away? Start by contacting your local animal shelter or see if your local vet keeps a list of people interested in adopting animals.

Photo by Ryan Hawk.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Own an orangutan original

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

No art collection is complete without an original painting by Woodland Park Zoo's 40-year-old orangutan, Towan. And with the holidays here, now's your chance to give a unique gift to the animal lover in your life.

Towan's latest work, a 16"x20" painting done in festive acrylic red and green to reflect the theme of the holiday season, comes framed behind glass in a matte black wood frame. Included is a certificate of authenticity.

Bidding has begun on eBay, ending December 12 at 10:36:30 PST. Don't miss your chance!

Funds raised through this eBay auction will help support the 2009 conference of the Third Annual International Congress of Zookeepers/36th American Association of Zookeepers National Conference to be held at Woodland Park Zoo. This combined ICZ/AAZK conference represents the first time these two professional zoo keeper organizations have joined to bring together animal care professionals from around the world to the United States. The conference will improve the levels of communication between keepers from around the world, and serve as a basis for supporting the development of zoo keeping as a profession in regions where professional keeper associations do not currently exist. This will ultimately benefit wildlife located in zoos and those in conservation projects everywhere.

Photos: Carolyn Austin, Ric Brewer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Habitat begins at home

Posted by: Jenny Mears, Education Programs Coordinator

Have you always wanted to attract more wildlife to your yard, but need a little help?

Looking for local resources on backyard habitats including events, workshops and websites?

Then check out Woodland Park Zoo's Backyard Habitat blog!

This blog is updated weekly with local resources on everything from native plant sales and backyard habitat festivals to updates on bird feeders from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. You'll also receive seasonal updates on such topics as when to clean out nestboxes, when to look for mason bees, and when to prune trees and shrubs!

Photo by Dennis Connor.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Part One: Did you know?

We get dozens of emails a day, and often the same questions come up again and again. It seems there are some common misconceptions about how the zoo works, so we thought we’d post responses to some of those most frequently asked questions in a new “Did you know?” blog feature. Look for “Did you know?” posts over the next few weeks.

Did you know? The majority of the animals at the zoo are not “tame."

Many people contact us asking to go in and pet the tigers or play with the monkeys, thinking that because the animals are in a zoo, they must be tame. In fact, we make every effort to ensure that the animals retain their wild behaviors and so even zookeepers do not go directly into exhibits with the animals (except the domestic cows, sheep, goats and chickens, of course!).

So how do we care for them?

Each day, our animals are visually monitored for their health and well being and we use what is called operant conditioning training for managing them. Many of the animals are trained through positive reinforcement techniques (food is popular!) so that keepers or animal health professionals can perform procedures from tooth brushing to vaccinations simply by training the animals to be comfortable with these functions. Most preventive and minor health issues can be dealt with in this way, instead of immobilizing them with anesthetics. The animals are still, however, safely protected through barriers from their caretakers. If it’s determined that an animal needs a more extensive medical procedure, the animal is safely anesthetized for the procedure and then monitored as they awaken.

Photo: Zookeeper Joyce Ford uses a target and food rewards to train giraffes. Photo by Ryan Hawk.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ocelot conservation

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We've been updating you frequently with behind-the-scenes photos of the two ocelot kittens. And while it's easy (and fun) to get caught up in how cute they are, it's important to remember that these kittens are also ambassadors for their endangered wild counterparts.

Ocelots are still in high demand for the fur industries in Europe and Asia, which leads to abuse of the already existing laws protecting ocelots and other small cats. Ocelot numbers are also decreasing rapidly as a result of habitat destruction and the black market pet trade. Threatened throughout their entire range, ocelots are also becoming exceedingly rare in several areas. In the U.S., ocelots once ranged throughout the southwest from Arizona to Louisiana, yet now less than 100 ocelots are estimated to be left in the U.S.

For simple ways to help save endangered species, visit our How You Can Help webpage.

Photos: Ocelots at 8 weeks, by Ryan Hawk.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The eagle has landed

Posted by Ric Brewer

For several years back, we've had wild eagles take up residence on zoo grounds in trees in the elk yard in Northern Trail. This year appears to be no exception as intrepid volunteer photographer Dennis Dow snapped this great shot of one of these magnificent birds gathering twigs for a nest. Last year's nest failed, but we're hoping whatever pair appears has better luck this time around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snow leopard champion Helen Freeman honored

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

The champion of snow leopards, Helen Freeman, was remembered over the weekend at a private ceremony held at Woodland Park Zoo that paid tribute to her tireless efforts toward protecting snow leopards and establishing the Snow Leopard Trust. Family, friends, the Snow Leopard Trust, and the zoo unveiled an ensemble of bronze sculptures that illustrates the lifetime passion of Freeman who passed away in 2007.

The commemoration to Freeman is located near the zoo’s snow leopard exhibit. Members of the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), Freeman’s family, and local artist Gretchen Daiber collaborated with the zoo to create the sculptural vignette: a clipboard detailing Freeman’s observations of snow leopards, a leaping snow leopard and a small plaque.

Freeman’s interest in snow leopards began in the early 1970s as a volunteer docent at the zoo where she began studying the zoo’s pair of snow leopards from Russia. She discovered a new passion for the endangered cats, which led her back to school for a second degree in animal behavior at University of Washington. The countless hours she spent studying the elusive cats grew into a multinational research effort. In the early 1980s, she became the zoo’s Curator of Education and, in 1981, she founded the Snow Leopard Trust.

Under Freeman’s guidance the Trust pioneered new approaches to snow leopard conservation and its habitat in Asia, placing local peoples at the center of the movement. Freeman ultimately became one of the world’s foremost experts on the behavior of snow leopards in captivity and a key figure in international snow leopard conservation. In 2008, the SLT continued Freeman’s legacy by launching the first ever long-term study of wild snow leopards, greatly advancing knowledge of and conservation efforts for the beautiful felines.

Also as a tribute to her, the zoo's newest female snow leopard was named "Helen" in her honor. As you can tell from the photo, Helen is quite comfortable here!

(Photo of the Freeman family: Doug, Stan and Harry posing around the new statue by Ryan Hawk. Photo of Helen the snow leopard by Judy Nyman-Schaaf)

Monday, November 17, 2008

A new giraffe is here!

Posted by: Walter Dupree, Animal Collections Manager

A new female giraffe arrived at Woodland Park Zoo last Friday. Born February 27, 2007, she’s not quite two yet, coming to us from Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri.

(Photo: The giraffe arrives in the trailer.)

The giraffe arrived early Friday morning after a three day trip and was quite feisty when we were unloading her from the trailer, letting us know she wanted out. And we all felt that was a good sign!

(Photo: The trailer is backed up to the loading chute)

For those that know the giraffe barn—the indoor space where the giraffes are kept when not out on the African Savanna—there is a load/unload chute at the back end of the barn. The animal transporter positioned the trailer in which the giraffe arrived against the transfer chute, opened the door, and after just a few hesitant seconds, she walked out of the trailer and right into the barn…just as if she had been here all her life!

(Photo: The giraffes show interest in each other.)

When she entered the barn she could see our three male giraffes and all were immediately interested in each other. There was no running, there was no excitement, but there was definitely interest.

(Photo: The new giraffe enjoys some browse.)

After she examined the boys for a bit, she started eating browse and settled in nicely. And three days later, she is still doing fine.

The new female is here to help Woodland Park Zoo participate in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan breeding program for giraffes. Eventually, we would like for her to breed with one of our males, not only to build our herd, but to also add to the current AZA giraffe population. Of course, with her not being quite two years old, we do have a few years before we will see any giraffe births, but it's a start! We would also like to add at least one more female giraffe to our breeding group and are currently searching to identify another female to add to the group.

(Photo: The new giraffe inside the giraffe barn.)

For now, the new giraffe will be in standard quarantine for 30 days in the giraffe barn, but after that, you should be able to see her out at the giraffe barn (located near the hippo pool) and, eventually, on the savanna.

(Photos by Ryan Hawk.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Growing up galago

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The 5-week-old galago babies received another vet check-up this morning, which gave us a chance to snap some photos of the tiny primates who are quickly growing. (Remember these photos from when they were just one week old?)

The two galago babies are out on view now in the Night Exhibit, which is kept in darkness during the day so visitors can watch nocturnal animals in their element.

Look for them in the nesting box inside the Night Exhibit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pudu power

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

What happens when the Ballard Pudus—a local youth soccer team—meet the Woodland Park Zoo pudus? Pure, pudu magic.

The Ballard Pudus, an official Ballard Youth Soccer team made up of 7-8 year olds, got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet their namesake behind the scenes at Woodland Park Zoo last month.

The pudu, a South American deer, and, in fact, the world’s smallest species of deer, may not always get the spotlight. But 7-year-old Anna has had a lifelong love of pudus, making them her number one animal to look for whenever she visits the zoo. So when her Ballard Youth Soccer Team had a chance to come up with a team name, Anna used her pudu-passion to convince her teammates to take on the unique moniker.

The oddly named soccer team may draw some puzzled looks on the field, but their team name actually helps to promote knowledge about this little known endangered species. After meeting the zoo’s pudus and talking to their keepers, the soccer youths are more prepared than ever to spread the word and promote pudu preservation!

You may remember hearing about our pudus earlier this year when a baby was born in May. To check them out, visit the pudu exhibit next to the flamingo exhibit in the Temperate Forest area of the zoo. And don't miss this great video taken of the pudu baby at one day old:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plans for 2009

Posted by: David Schaefer, Director of Public Affairs

Want to know what we’ll be up to next year?

The zoo’s draft plan for 2009 operations is now posted on the zoo’s website and is available at the zoo’s administrative offices and with the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation.

The annual plan is made public as part of the Woodland Park Zoo Society’s operations agreement with the city of Seattle.

Among the highlights planned for 2009 are the new Humboldt penguin exhibit—the most significant new animal exhibit in a decade at the zoo—and a new food concession contract. Other changes include expansion of the education programs offered to the public, changes to accommodate additional guest parking and further incentives to reduce auto use by our staff.

New animals expected to join the collection in 2009 include a silverback lowland gorilla, a giraffe and zebra. We will exhibit a tree kangaroo, representing one of the zoo’s ambitious field conservation efforts. We also will participate in new efforts at conservation in the Northwest including the Oregon spotted frog and Northern spotted owl. And we will introduce to the collection a highly endangered eagle species, the Steller’s sea eagle.

The annual plan notes that the zoo—like many other government and private organizations—is operating in a very difficult financial situation. We have instituted very strict budget discipline already, and for 2009 we are investigating new revenue sources including a summer-period price increase, as well as budget reductions of up to 2 percent.

Public comments on the plan will be accepted through midnight Dec. 4. They can be mailed to the zoo at 601 N. 59th St., Seattle, 98103, or e-mailed to us at webkeeper@zoo.org.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Video: Bushbaby babies

Watch the bushbabies (also known as galagos) get their vet exam under the care of our animal health team and zookeepers.

Turn up the sound to learn more about what you're seeing:

The galago babies are on view now in the Night Exhibit. You'll most likely spot them in a nesting box in their exhibit space.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Video: Ocelots at 5 weeks

Watch the 5-week-old ocelots during their weekly exam with their zookeepers:

As you can imagine, these early weeks are critical to the ocelots’ growth, so they remain quietly and safely off view with their mother. But thanks to the great work of our keepers, vets, and staff photographer, you get to watch the kittens grow behind-the-scenes as we post more photos, videos and stories.

Want to be the first to see new videos? Subscribe to our popular YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/woodlandparkzoo.

Improving human-elephant relations

Posted by: Jona Jacobson, Conservation Department

In the wild, human-elephant conflict has become one of the major challenges in elephant conservation, as loss of habitat and fragmentation forces elephants and humans into competition for the same, limited space and resources.

To combat human-elephant conflict, a number of conservation programs have sprung up in Asia and Africa to educate communities about these animals and help shift perspectives on their interactions.

One such program is the Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust, which conducts—with support from Woodland Park Zoo—the Schools Awareness Program in rural schools in Sri Lanka, where human-elephant conflict is an ongoing threat to elephant welfare. The program has been ongoing for the last seven years at the rate of around 150 schools per year, seeking to reach as many school children as possible.

The objective is to create an awareness of the elephant and its conservation among the children, by way of lectures with slides and video, Q&A sessions and discussions. At the end of each session, the Schools Awareness Program donates a set of books to the school library. In 2007, funds given by WPZ helped carry out 40 sessions, reaching 4,784 students and 417 teachers. Through these sessions, the Schools Awareness Program has given children a clear understanding of the elephants and their habits and behaviors. With this knowledge will hopefully come a shift in attitude toward the elephants; perhaps even to the extent that some of the students will play a proactive role in elephant conservation in the future.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ocelot snapshot

Here's the latest snapshot of the two ocelot kittens--now 5 weeks old--taken Tuesday at their weekly weigh-in.

The ocelots are doing well behind-the-scenes with their mother. Their father is out on exhibit now in the Tropical Rain Forest building.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Little climber

Uzumma, who turned one year old this October, has been boldly venturing away from her mother and exploring the new trees recently installed in the gorilla exhibit.

Many of us have spotted her playing around the base of the trees before, but this weekend, one of our photographers caught Uzumma testing her climbing skills on the 30 ft tall trees.

Word is she made it about half way up several times!

Have you seen her go higher? Let us know!

Photos by Dennis Dow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Post-Pumpkin Prowl

Last weekend's Pumpkin Prowl was a howling success with three nights of spooky fun (and some pretty great treats, too!).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Smashing pumpkins

Today TV camera crews and some lucky guests got a sneak peek at what this weekend's annual Pumpkin Bash has in store for visitors.

The zoo's three hippos were treated to some pumpkin bobbing. The hippos hilariously lined up with their mouths gaped wide open, waiting patiently for the keepers to toss the pumpkins right in!

But our keepers wanted the hippos to work for their snack, so the huge pumpkins were tossed into the pool and the hippos swam after them, chasing them around like they were bobbing for apples!

Watch them in action--and turn up the sound for full, spooky Halloween effect!

You can catch the hippos plus many, many more animals smashing, stomping, and chomping on pumpkins at Pumpkin Bash this Sat. and Sun., Oct. 25 & 26, 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Photos by Tianna Klineburger. Video by Ryan Hawk.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin time!

Halloween is almost here and Woodland Park Zoo is getting in on the action early with this weekend’s Pumpkin Prowl event, Oct. 24-26.

Pumpkin Prowl is three nights of ghoulishly good times with trick or treating for kids, live entertainment and Zoomazium transformed into Boomazium!

We’re getting ready now for the event, unloading hay bales, carving HUNDREDS of pumpkins, and decorating the zoo!

Want in on the fun? Tickets are on sale now at zoo gates, or buy them at any Bartell Drugs location and save $2.

If you just can't get enough of Halloween, check out these other great happenings:

Pumpkin Bash at Woodland Park Zoo – Oct. 25-26, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Watch the zoo’s animals smash, chomp, and stomp on pumpkins!

Mysteries of Ancient Egypt at Burke Museum – Oct. 26, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Meet Nellie, Seattle’s only Egyptian mummy, making a rare appearance out from behind the scenes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Galago twins born!

We are celebrating the birth of twin galagos, an African primate also known as a “bushbaby.” The galagos were born October 11. Pictured here, the galagos received their first vet check-up on Fri., Oct. 17. All is well!

The large eyes on this small creature are an adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyle in their native African habitats.

The galagos are on view in the Night House exhibit, but the babies are staying close to their mother near their nest box, so it may be difficult to spot them in the dark!

In the meantime, get your fix of images from behind the scenes at that first vet exam here:

Photos by Ryan Hawk.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New western pond turtle hatchlings pop out of their shells!

Some tiny new pond turtles hatched today, just the start of their journey being raised here at the zoo until large enough for release back into the wild. Welcome, little turtles! View the slideshow of their "break-through"!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Emerald City Search is back!

The Search is on, Seattle!

The UW and The Seattle Times are back with a 3rd year of the popular Emerald City Search. This year, the search is sponsored by Woodland Park Zoo with a special Year of the Frog theme, to help promote our amphibian awareness campaign.

The first clue to help you find the hidden Emerald City Search medallion was revealed in The Seattle Times today, and an additional clue will be printed each day for 10 consecutive days.

The clues, written by UW experts, are tricky, so consider working with a friend to solve the riddles and find the location of the medallion. First contestant to find a medallion hidden somewhere in the city wins $2,500 in cash and prizes.

Official rules here.

Good luck!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Calaya's treetop adventure

Here's video of six-year-old western lowland gorilla Calaya mastering the new upright trees and vines recently installed in the gorilla exhibit. This footage was taken at the very first moment Calaya encountered the new structures, and as you can see, she wasted no time in checking them out!

The new artificial trees and vines installed in the exhibit will stand up to the rough and tumble of playful (and heavy!) gorillas for years to come.

Come check them out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ocelot kits doing well

The ocelot kittens got their first neonatal exam and were given a clean bill of health by their vets!

Looks like both kittens are female. And it's official--they are as cute as can be. Case in point:

You can even watch the behind-the-scenes footage of their first exam:

Newborn ocelots are blind at birth and are helpless for several weeks, relying solely on their mother for care and nutrition. Staff continue to have minimal physical contact and monitor the mother and kittens in the birthing den via a web cam only.
We hope to have them out on exhibit in 6-8 weeks. Until then, stay tuned for more video and photos!
Photos by Ryan Hawk.

Monday, October 6, 2008

High in the air with the greatest of ease!

Calaya took to the trees last week as our gorillas were treated to their newly "decorated" exhibit. Two custom-made metal and concrete trees were the main reason for the exhibit makeover. Created by our talented Exhibits crew, the trees--one weighing more than one ton--were installed both for safety and durability. As you can imagine, a 300-pound gorilla jumping on a rotting tree branch can have consequences, so these realistic trees were made to allay any fears of gorillas raining from the trees!

Part of the funding for this project came from 3-year-old Lucas Engles-Klann, who, with the assistance of his mom, held a vegetarian meal fundraiser and brought in $1,200 for our gorillas. We were fortunate to have Lucas here when the gorillas first were let into the newly renovated exhibited. Despite his shyness, Lucas seemed to enjoy the fruits of his generosity almost as much as Calaya enjoyed swinging in her new playground! (Photo by Tianna Klineburger)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ocelot kittens born

For the first time in 15 years, we are celebrating the birth of endangered ocelots! Two kittens were born last week. They are the first offspring of mother Bella, 7 years old, and father Brazil, 12 years old. The gender of the kittens is unknown at this time.

To minimize disturbance, staff have minimal physical contact with the new family and are monitoring the mother and kittens in the birthing den via an internal web cam only (from which these screenshots were taken). Things are going well with this first-time mother. She is providing round-the-clock care and demonstrating excellent maternal skills. The kittens are active and nursing regularly.

It’s critical at this time to give the mother and kittens their time and space to bond and develop healthily, so the kittens will not be on public view for at least six to eight weeks. We hope to be able to update soon with photos and/or video.

You can still catch the father, Brazil, on view in the award-winning Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Conservation gone batty

Posted by: Jona Jacobson, Woodland Park Zoo Conservation Department

Did you know in the 1970s, only 75 Rodrigues fruit bats were left on the island of Rodrigues, a district of Mauritius? But thanks to concerted conservation efforts, those numbers are now approximately 5,500. This number can drop, however, by as much as 50% during a major cyclone, which occurs every 5 to 6 years.

The Rodrigues Environmental Educator Project (REEP) was formed in 1998, and for the first two years the emphasis was on the bats themselves. Starting in 2000, REEP expanded their focus to include environmental issues and school programs. REEP visits 13 schools about every two weeks to conduct lessons with 5th and 6th grade children. The lessons are interactive and hands-on to bolster the teachers' standard curriculum. REEP teaches the scientific, English and Creole names for plants and animals, and takes students out on field trips: 1 to 2 trips per student, per year, during which time the students visit the nursery and the reserves, where they help plant the species started in the nursery. They also learn field journaling. Future goals include: creating endemic gardens at each of the school sites, conducting teacher workshops, expanding to secondary schools and creating a Fruit Bat Day.

You can see the Rodrigues fruit bat at Woodland Park Zoo in the Night Exhibit. Look for the nocturnal megabats climbing around or hanging upside down in the darkness.

Left: REEP school outing in Grande Montagne nature reserve. Photo by Kimberly Lengel.
Right: Rodriguez fruit bat in Night Exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Milan Trykar.