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Showing posts from March, 2009

Protecting the world’s least-known bear

Posted by: WPZ Field Conservation staff

Southeast Asia is home to the world’s smallest bear species, the Malayan sun bear. These little bears face big threats throughout their range, especially from forest destruction, illegal hunting, and the capturing of small cubs for pets.

Luckily this unique bear has a champion and protector in Siew Te Wong, a Malaysian researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montana. Woodland Park Zoo has helped support Wong and his field work in Sabah, Borneo for several years. As one of the very few people studying the sun bear, Wong has uncovered many fascinating aspects of sun bear ecology. Sadly, though, his research also brought him first-hand experience of the inhumane treatment of sun bears kept as pets.

Wong’s deep concern for these animals has inspired a new and ambitious project: the creation of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, a partnership between the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Sabah Forestry Department and nonprofit LEAP (Land…

Flying penguins?

Posted by Collection Manager Shawn Pedersen

Well, yes, the nine penguins that will soon call the new Humboldt penguin exhibit home did fly here, but by way of airplanes, not their own power.

Five females and two males arrived yesterday afternoon from SeaWorld San Diego and St. Louis Zoo. They join a pair from Aquarium of Niagara that arrived earlier this week and 11 more penguins arrive later last night from Brookfield Zoo and Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The 10 penguin pairs will be quarantined for 30 days before they waddle out into their brand new exhibit for the first time.

The penguins arrived at the airport in “kennel cab” style dog crates, safely screened to keep them calm. Zookeeper Celine Pardo and I loaded the crates into the zoo’s van and whisked them to the zoo and the off-exhibit area constructed for them behind the new exhibit. One-by-one we opened each kennel at which time a penguin head poked out, wondering where they were. Like the penguins, we didn’t know quite what to expect;…

They nest in what?!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications and Jona Jacobson, Field Conservation

Humboldt penguins nest in poop.

No, really.

In the wild, Humboldt penguins dig their nests into guano, the accumulated droppings of sea birds. These nesting burrows protect eggs and chicks in the unique yet unforgiving desert environment that is Punta San Juan, Peru—home of Peru’s largest Humboldt penguin population, and the inspiration for Woodland Park Zoo’s new penguin exhibit opening in May.

But this tidbit is important not just because it’s a great “Did you know?” to pull out at your next party, but because it’s also a significant factor in the conservation of this endangered species.

You see, one of the greatest threats to Humboldt penguins is the overharvesting of guano as an agricultural fertilizer.

Take away their nesting material, and penguins lose the ability to safely hatch eggs and add chicks to their already depleted population.

To mitigate this threat, a guano reserve was created in Punta San Juan…

Building Nests, Building Guardians

Posted by: Jona Jacobson, Field Conservation

When it comes to conservation, it takes a village. Just ask the villagers of Tapoh, Thailand.

To help protect hornbills from poaching and deforestation, the Hornbill Research Foundation (HRF) in Thailand—a Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife—has been working closely with Tapoh villagers in the Narathiwat Province in southern Thailand to transition them into stewards of their own wildlife.

The HRF employs local villagers and former poachers as nest guardians—guarding not only naturally occurring nests, but also constructing, installing and guarding artificial nests.

Guarding nests is especially important because hornbills tend to nest in large-diameter trees, which, unfortunately, are the same type of trees that are felled to clear the land for agriculture or wood products.

There’s good reason for the people of Tapoh to protect hornbills and their nesting sites: hornbills are seed dispersers, essential to the health of the forests upon which t…

Rose Garden gets new pergola

Posted by E.J. Hook, Facility Operations Supervisor

The famed Woodland Park Rose Garden, noted as one of 24 All-America Rose Selection Test Garden, has been a favorite local spot since it opened in 1924. Now, thanks to funding provided by the Seattle Garden Club and Committee of 33, a new pergola is gracing the south end of the garden. The pergola restores the traditional symmetry and north-south views to the landscape. Constructed with wrought-iron and stone pillars designed to match the existing fence that surrounds the garden, the pergola will provide the capacity to grow varieties of climbing roses. Horizontal wooden slats from salvaged lumber will create an open "roof", providing further structure for roses. Built-in benches inside will allow visitors the ability to enjoy a view of the garden filtered through a canopy of flowering rose blossoms.

Construction is nearly complete and roses will soon thereafter begin to be planted. Another new addition to the garden, less obv…

Conservation breakthrough for WPZ

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Big news here at Woodland Park Zoo...

We are thrilled to announce that Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program has helped preserve 187,800 acres of pristine forest habitat with Papua New Guinea’s first ever Conservation Area.

That’s an area the size of all five NYC boroughs combined!

After 12 years of work, Woodland Park Zoo and partner Conservation International have reached agreement with Papua New Guinea land owners and government to establish the YUS Conservation Area, named for the region’s three rivers, the Yopno, Uruwa and Som. The area will protect thousands of species—including the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo—and some of the most critically diverse habitat on the planet.


Though the nation has declared protected areas in the past, this is the first of its kind to prohibit all hunting, mining, logging and development—a new level of commitment to conservation a decade in the making for the people of Papua New Guinea an…