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Friday, February 29, 2008

Name the Baby Gorilla!

If it weren't thrilling enough when our latest western lowland gorilla was born in October, now the entire community gets the opportunity to help name her!

The now 4-month-old gorilla has been through quite a bit, when a congenital defect called for surgery to correct. Thanks to a team of physicians from Seattle's Children Hospital, she's now right as rain and ready for a name.

In cooperation with Ivar's and Kidd Valley restaurants, we're looking for a name that derives from the languages of their origin countries. In this case, names of Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Swahili languages are the suggested sources. It's not too hard to discover appropriate names: simply go online and type in "Yoruba language", etc., in any search engine, or visit your local library and find dictionaries for those languages. Then visit any Western Washington Ivar's or Kidd Valley restaurant to pick up and fill in an entry form. The contest runs from March 2 through March 23.

Visit www.zoo.org/gorilla_naming for complete rules and to download an entry form, or pick one up at your favorite Kidd Valley or Ivar's. (Photo by Ryan Hawk)

Leap Day celebrates the kick off to Year of the Frog

Kids 3-12 who "go froggy" get in free today at the zoo to celebrate the Year of the Frog, a campaign to alert people to the plight of amphibians around the world. Just come dressed in green and you get in free and get the chance to participate in a number of frog-related activities.

The more than 6,000 species of frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders are currently in the midst of a crisis where their numbers are drastically falling due to the infestation of the chytrid fungus as well as tremendous habitat loss. Woodland Park Zoo is joining with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Amphibian Ark and hundreds of zoos and aquariums around the world to help save amphibians from extinction. Currently we are working with several regional partners to help create a recovery plan for the endangered Oregon spotted frog which has declined over 90% of its historic range.

Find out how you can help frogs and other amphibians, too. Visit http://www.yearofthefrog.org/ for details on simple steps you can take to "take the leap" for frogs.
(Photo of poison dart frogs at WPZ by Ryan Hawk)

Friday, February 22, 2008

These orangutans aren't "over the hill"

Turning 40 isn't going to be traumatic for Towan and his twin sister Chinta on Saturday. The party starts at 11:00 a.m. and runs to 12:30 p.m. The orangutans will receive wrapped "presents" that they enjoy tearing into, special treats and our human guests will receive tasty gourmet cupcakes courtesy of Cupcake Royale (while supplies last!) and everyone is welcome to enter into a free raffle to win one of Towan's increasingly famous works of art (see below to the entry that offered two of his paintings for auction on eBay).

Our February entry showed Towan and Chinta as infants, so we thought it only fair that we post photos of them now (That's Towan, the male on the left, and Chinta, the female, on the right). They would also like to say hello to Hannah, Mark and Conni up in Vancouver, B.C. Hannah was looking forward to coming to the birthday party, but unfortunately she's not feeling well so the orangutans hope this finds her on the mend!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Orangutan twins hit the big 4-0!

Turning 40 is a milestone for humans…and for non-human animals too! Join Woodland Park Zoo at a birthday party for its twin orangutans turning the big 4-0. Towan (toe-WAHN) and Chinta (CHEEN-tuh), brother and sister, respectively, will open gift-wrapped presents with their favorite treats and indulge in special “orangutan” birthday cupcakes. All five of the zoo’s orangutans will join in the celebration.

Birthday festivities include: complimentary cupcakes for visitors (while supplies last), an opportunity to meet the keepers and hear about the day-to-day quality care provided for the great apes, a photo collage of the twins, an orangutan discovery box with fascinating facts and items, and a free raffle for a commemorative art piece hand painted by orangutan Towan. The birthday party is free with zoo admission.

Born at Woodland Park Zoo in February 1968, the twin orangutans gained instant national celebrity status as the first-known twin orangutans born in a zoo. Photos of the pair in diapers appeared around the globe, including “Life” magazine. While other twins have since been born, twin orangutan births are still a rare occurrence.

WHEN: Saturday, February 23, 2008, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Woodland Park Zoo’s Orangutan Forest in Trail of Vines. Cupcakes for visitors will be served at the Orangutan Research Station near the interior exhibit.

Orangutans, a highly endangered species, belong to the family Pongidae, which includes all three great apes: gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. Distinct subspecies of orangutans live on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Their habitat consists of lower and middle canopy levels of mature lowland tropical rain forests and lower densities in mountainous areas. Overpopulation, logging, agriculture, and other human activities are rapidly destroying forest environments required by orangutans for survival. (Archival photo by Robert Kelley)

Monday, February 4, 2008

The "Andy Warhol of Apes"

39-year-old orangutan Towan enjoys painting. He's become a "master" artist it seems and two of his paintings are now being offered in an eBay auction in order to raise funds for the 2009 International Congress of Zookeepers/American Association of Zoo Keepers conference that will be held at Woodland Park Zoo in September 2009.

Painting is one of the activities that several animals at the zoo take part in that helps stimulate them physically and mentally. The orangutans are offered non-toxic paints and canvas in order to provide them an activity, much like kids in pre-school will enjoy dabbling in the "fine arts" with finger painting. The ICZ/AAZK conference is a great way that zookeepers from around the world get to meet, interact, and network new ideas for animal husbandry, enrichment, and other topics related to improving and increasing the quality and depth of care they give to the animals.

Bidding on Towan's two original paintings goes until February 8, so not only can you help support this great cause, you can also get original artwork that is sure to be a conservation starter no matter where you hang it! Bid on one (or both!) of these attractive paintings now!