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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community food drive at Turkey Toss

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’re asking for your help to provide relief for the community by dropping off food donations at our annual Turkey Toss event this Saturday. We’ll be accepting donations of non-perishable food items at the zoo to benefit the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) soup kitchen program.

Food items can be dropped off on November 21 outside the zoo’s South Entrance (N. 50th St. & Fremont Ave. N.) during operating hours, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Zoo admission is not required to donate food, but if you join us that day, you’ll see snow leopards, Komodo dragons, grizzlies, lions and more carnivorous species chow down on raw, store-prepared turkeys—all part of the zoo’s ongoing enrichment program for the animals!

So what kinds of food items should you donate? Our friends at the PNA soup kitchen program tell us the items most in demand are: non-perishable juice, jam, canned fruit, beans, canned vegetables, chili, ketchup and powdered creamers. Every little bit helps for the PNA soup kitchen program, which operates two days a week at St. John United Lutheran Church located across the zoo’s West Entrance and one day a week at Calvary Lutheran Church in Ballard.

Thanks for any help you can provide!
Photos: Lion by Ryan Hawk, Komodo dragon by Dale Unruh.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Remembering Sipoi

On November 12, the zoo lost a beloved staff member, Sammy Kiako Ole Sipoi, to a tragic motorcycle accident in Kenya. Sipoi had worked as a Maasai cultural interpreter at the zoo for two summers, sharing stories about his life on the savanna with zoo visitors, and bringing to life the real conservation issues of his homeland.

Paula Eggertsen, a close friend to Sipoi and former member of Woodland Park Zoo’s education staff, writes this tribute. We welcome you to share your thoughts and memories of Sipoi in the comments section.

Tribute to my “olalashe,” Sammy Kiako Ole Sipoi
Posted by: Paula Eggertsen

The interpretation of cultural values and traditions is nearly impossible, particularly when you’re comparing cultures as different as a pastoralist and a capitalist society. What can easily translate are the qualities of human kindness. Sipoi embodied kindness.

When I first met Sipoi in Kenya in 2004, he rode the bus to Nairobi to greet my sister and me. It took Sipoi three hours of bus transfers, bumpy roads, and walking through a city wearing his traditional clothing to greet us. He immediately was attentive and thoughtful and surprised us by clearly speaking occasional English words. He was obviously extremely connected to his fellow warriors, to his family and to the Merrueshi community.

When we visited Merrueshi, he took us on long walks on the savanna, made sure that we had enough water, shade, that we weren’t trapped in the many acacia thorns, and that we had access to our cameras and backpacks containing various creams and lotions. He was amused by our poor night vision, but protected us from walking directly into bushes, holes and other obstacles at night. We were clearly out of our element and he took care of us.

(Sipoi pictured here in the middle.)

It was an honor when he gave both my sister and me Maasai names. Both in Kenya and in Seattle he referred to me as “enganashe,” or his sister. This was the ultimate honor to be considered a family member.

The closeness of communities whose members are part of a whole and look out for the well being of the group is something unique and wonderful. Sipoi and the Merrueshi community demonstrate values that would benefit our lives in America.

The loss of Sipoi is great on so many levels. He was a wonderful human, a husband and father, a comrade, an important community member, and a cross-cultural ambassador. He was extremely intelligent, well-educated, and held so much promise for great things to come.

I will miss my “olalashe” (brother) greatly. I am certain that members of his community are grief-stricken and suffering from his sudden loss. My heart goes out to my dear friend Kakuta, to Sipoi’s family, to his fellow warriors, and all who had the good fortune to know him well.

If you would like to contribute a memorial donation to Sipoi’s family, you can send a check made out to: Maasai Association, PO Box 868, Medina, WA 98039.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A walk down Flamingo Road

Posted by: Mark Myers, Curator

Back in September we announced the hatching of the first Chilean flamingo chicks in Woodland Park Zoo’s history. For the best possible care, we’ve been hand-rearing them behind the scenes.

But they still need their exercise for healthy development, so at least once a day, the chicks are taken outside (depending on the weather) and raced up and down to help them stretch out and gain strength in their long legs and developing wings. You can watch zookeeper Ernie Rose take the flamingos for a walk in this video, including a stop by the back of the flamingo exhibit to see the adult birds.

Chicks are hatched with a gray, downy coating. At around 1 year of age, the familiar pink coloration will develop as the adult plumage grows in, the color derived from beta carotene— the same naturally occurring nutrient that gives carrots and other vegetables their coloration. Once the chicks are large enough, they will join the rest of the flock in the exhibit.

Video produced by Ric Brewer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

TV show featuring Zoo Doo wins enviro award

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We just heard the great news that an episode of public television’s Biz Kid$ featuring Woodland Park Zoo’s own Dr. Doo and our Zoo Doo program won a prestigious Environmental Media Award in the category for Children’s Live Action.

Here’s the segment on Zoo Doo from the now award-winning episode “The Green Economy & You.” You’ll follow the whole Zoo Doo process, from poop scooping, to the compost yard with Dr. Doo, then see the finished product. Dr. Doo talks the business side of what comes from the backside of our zoo animals!

If you’re in the region, you can catch the full episode when it re-airs Saturday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. on KCTS 9. Biz Kid$ is an Emmy Award-winning financial education series broadcast on more than 330 public television stations.