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Showing posts from 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:
8. A New Giraffe is Here!

7. Year of the Frog kicks off

6. Zoo goes pink with flamingos

5. Making way for penguins

4. Baby gorilla gets helping hand from Children’s Hospital

3. Whoop-de-zoo! Orangutans celebrate their 40th

2. Headstarted endangered turtles graduate into the wild

1. Ocelot kittens brighten the day

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.

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 photographe…

Woodland Park Zoo Closed due to weather

Woodland Park Zoo is closed today, Monday, December 22.
But enjoy the slideshow in the meantime! See you again soon!

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 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, 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...

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 cou…

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 …

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.

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.…

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.

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.

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, …

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 sh…

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.

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…

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 …

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.

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

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 …

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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)

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.

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…