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Showing posts from 2010

Top 10 of 2010

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

This week marks Woodland Park Zoo’s 111th birthday, and what a 111th year it has been! In 2010 we celebrated conservation successes, won a national best exhibit award, hatched endangered species and so much more.

Here’s my personal pick of the top 10 zoo stories of 2010, in no particular order. What were your favorite zoo experiences this year?

1. Endangered penguin chicks hatch in new exhibit

2. Snow leopard cologne sniff test helps conservation research in the wild

3. Rescued golden eagle finds new home at zoo

4. Meerkats return to the zoo after 10-year absence—and they’re meerkute!

5. Elephant Chai predicts winner of the Apple Cup

6. Zoo wins national Best Exhibit Award for sustainably-built Humboldt penguin exhibit

7. Teens raise and release endangered turtles into wild

8. Community celebrates endangered species with zoo’s Limited Edition art and Trophy Cupcakes

9. Zoo blog readers help raise money to fight fires in endangered crane habitat

Zoo staffer wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted by: Kiley Jacques, Senior Rose Gardener

If ever an opportunity arises to visit the “bowels” of the zoo, take advantage of it. And when we say bowels, we mean it! It is there you will find Mr. Jimmy Bucsit flipping, and forking, and hauling, and hosing, and performing all kinds of other duties required to keep those famous piles of poop percolating in the Zoo Doo yard. It is for that work—25 dedicated years of it—that Jimmy was honored this month with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Organic Recycling Council.

Jimmy Bucsit (middle) poses with Woodland Park Zoo's current Dr. Doo, Dan Corum (left) and the zoo's first Dr. Doo, Jeff Gage (right). Many of our visitors have experienced the fun of Fecal Fest and purchased our well-known Zoo Doo, and increasingly popular Bedspread. Well, it is thanks to Jimmy and his 25 years of commendable service that we are able to provide such unique offerings. It is with his help that we are able to create and maintain a major…

Happy holidays

Posted by: Woodland Park Zoo staff

Thank you to all who have helped make Woodland Park Zoo a truly magical place for families in our community and for our zoo family here and around the world.

We hope you’ll spread the holiday cheer and pass this video or a zoo holiday e-card along to your loved ones.

On behalf of all the animals and staff, we wish you a happy holiday season and a wonderful 2011.

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Update: Progress in wake of wildlife park fire

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Field Conservation

In June, we posted urgent news from the field about a devastating fire that severely damaged parkland in Russia vital to the survival of endangered cranes. Touched by the tragedy, our generous readers and zoo supporters contributed $800 to help Cranes of Asia, a WPZ Partner for Wildlife, purchase firefighting equipment to control dangerous fires in the future. Here is an update on the progress of that critical effort…

The afternoon was still and hot until the winds began to pick up at the Muraviovka Park in the Amur region of Russia. It was the sort of day where you can feel something is about to happen, you just aren’t sure what that something might be—until you look out to the horizon and see it, the smoke from a wildfire.
On May 2 this year, the crew at Muraviovka Park—a crucial nesting and breeding ground for the endangered red crowned crane, and the home of WPZ Partner for Wildlife Cranes of Asia—could do little but watch as over 90% of th…

Newborn elephant observed in the wild

Posted by: Mustafa Hassanali, Tarangire Elephant Project, Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife

Any time an endangered animal gives birth in the wild it is an event to be celebrated. When it is an African elephant calf born in the evening twilight rather than late at night, and observed by WPZ Partner for Wildlife the Tarangire Elephant Project, it is a moment to be shared with everyone that supports the zoo, its partners, and our conservation mission. The following is an update from the field by Tarangire field assistant Mustafa Hassanali on the newborn elephant he observed in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania…
In the early evening on September 9, we saw Olive and her 18-year-old daughter, Olie, huddled together in an area of open grassland. They adopted a threatening posture as we drove up close to them, as we didn’t yet realize what was happening. Olie ran away with her calves and then we saw Olive and a small female calf, which had probably been born only a few minutes earlier. She…

New female lion gets a check up

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

One-year-old lion Adia recently arrived at the zoo to join our African Savanna exhibit, thanks to the leadership of Jungle Party 2010 Chairs Nancy and Rick Alvord. Last week, the young lion underwent a full physical examination by our animal health team. Such routine physicals give us essential baseline medical information for new animals including blood work, radiographs, and dental examination.

Adia, whose name means “gift” in Swahili, got a clean bill of health from her vets. The young lion weighed in at 150 pounds, around half the weight she is expected to grow into as an adult. She shows her young age in her fur as well—as a juvenile, Adia still has rosette-like spots on her fur, typical of lion cubs.

Thanks to the generous contributions of Karen L. Koon, our animal health team recently acquired a digital radiography machine that we were able to use during Adia’s exam. Taking baseline x-rays of a new animal is important in order to have a r…

Tracking snow leopards in Mongolia

Posted by: Jennifer Snell Rullman, Snow Leopard Trust, Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife

This conservation update comes from the Snow Leopard Trust, a Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife working to study and conserve wild populations of the endangered snow leopard. Their field research, based in Mongolia, includes camera monitoring and GPS collaring of wild snow leopards in order to better understand the range and behavior of this elusive species. The more we know about snow leopards, the better we can protect them…

As we come to the end of our 2010 field season, we are pleased to close the year with two wonderful stories.

The first is about Tsagaan, who has been out of contact since March 2010! This fall, our team caught up with Tsagaan, a large adult male cat we have been following for two years. Although re-collared in March 2010, his collar never switched on and we received no GPS locations over the last eight months. Within weeks of placing this new collar in September, we r…

Prescient pachyderm prognosticator predicts pigskin prizewinner

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

Chai (rhymes with eye), our female Asian elephant, doesn't yet have the fame of the late Paul the World Cup-predicting octopus. But today she prognosticated the winner of the Apple Cup. Presented with two boxes of apples, one decorated with Dawg and the other in Coug-themed wrapping paper. The 31-year-old elephant used her trunk to snatch an apple from the purple and gold box, picking the winner with a firm bite. Then, as you can see in the video, promptly smashed the box with the Coug paper.
Woodland Park Zoo has had its own legion of fans in the region by a mere year longer than the first Apple Cup game played in 1900. But today marks the first time an animal here has "predicted" a winner in this heated rivalry. Pat Maluy, the lead elephant keeper joked that "Since Chai has never done this before, her record of forecasting the winner is perfect. But I guess we'll know after Saturday's game if she has an pre-cognitive ab…

Herkimer Coffee donation brews orangutan, gorilla comforts

Posted by: Roxanne Murphy, Community Relations

Here at Woodland Park Zoo, we develop many sizes of partnerships with all sorts of community organizations, but sometimes the sweetest of such partnerships are the simplest and directly in our neck of the woods.

This is exactly what we realized when we recently got a call from Herkimer Coffee, located just a few blocks away from the zoo on Phinney Avenue. Sure, several zoo staffers and volunteers get their morning or afternoon pick-me-ups here, but Herkimer manager Chad Smith was thinking about the zoo on a deeper level. He and his family not only love the zoo as members, they’ve also spent time here and on their own learning about orangutans. They share our same strong affinity for these inspiring and intelligent primates.

Chad specifically noticed that we use burlap bags in our orangutan and gorilla exhibits. In case you didn’t know, orangutans are arboreal, living in treetops, and they rarely come down from the trees. When they do, one of…

Komodo dragon vs. turkey leg

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Getting ready for Thanksgiving? Enjoy this clip of our Komodo dragons gulping down a turkey treat. The footage was featured nationwide on NBC's Today Show. Watch the video below or visit the Today website to view.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
The turkey treat was given to the Komodo dragons and other zoo carnivores at our annual Turkey Toss enrichment event, held last Saturday. Turkey Toss is part of the zoo’s ongoing enrichment program to help enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally and physically stimulated and engage zoo visitors.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Snow day at the zoo

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Though the winter storm watch advisory caused the zoo to close early today for visitor and staff safety, the animals did quite well in the snow. They have indoor access and heated areas, but some chose to go out and explore in the snow anyway. It can be quite enriching for them!

Here are some photos we took of the animals in the snow today, some a natural fit for the white-capped scenery, others a departure from the usual snowy scene:

If the snow continues to impact zoo operations, we'll post updates to our website at Be safe out there, everyone!
Photos by Ryan Hawk and Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Limited Edition spotlight: African wild dog

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

This week, we released the first of six prints for our Limited Edition campaign, this one highlighting the endangered African wild dog.

With only 3,000 African wild dogs left in the wild, this is a species on the edge, surviving in scattered packs across sub-Saharan Africa, a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

What isn’t fragmented is this species way of life in the pack—their social structure is remarkable. Even the scene at a kill for these carnivores is polite and orderly, with pups eating first while the adults fend off scavengers. How do they keep the peace? They frequently use ritualized gestures of appeasement to prevent any serious infighting. Most appeasement behavior is ritualized food-begging, but other gestures are familiar to anyone who owns a pet dog, such as whining, tail-wagging, and rolling over to expose the belly.

You can see some of their hunting instincts at work if you ever catch our African wild dogs enjoying a speci…

Limited Edition art highlights endangered species

Posted by: Dr. Deborah Jensen, President and CEO

Animals shouldn’t come in limited edition, yet dwindling wild populations have one fifth of the world’s vertebrates teetering on the edge of extinction. This fall, we launched our Limited Edition art campaign to draw attention to the plight of endangered species, what we’re doing to conserve them, and how you can help.
The campaign started with billboards around town showing artist renditions of six of the endangered species Woodland Park Zoo is working to save: Panamanian golden frog; western pond turtle; African wild dog; Sumatran tiger; golden lion tamarin; and red crowned crane. The six works of art, shown above, were designed by prominent Pacific Northwest artists Troy Gua, Natalie Oswald, Fumi Watanabe, Don Clark, Fiona McGuigan and Jesse LeDoux.The numbers scribbled in the left-hand corner of the billboards—evocative of limited edition artwork—represent the number of individuals of that species remaining in the wild: 1,100 western…

Pumpkin Bash sneak peek

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

In anticipation of Pumpkin Bash, we gave meerkats and grizzlies a preview of the tasty snacks awaiting them this weekend.First up, the meerkats filled their bellies with pumpkin when we set out two jack o’ lanterns in their exhibit. They are always quick to investigate anything new, so they scrambled immediately to check out the large pumpkins. Some climbed right through the holes to get to the tasty inside, while others clawed and gnawed at the outer portion.

After the meerkats stuffed themselves, the grizzlies got their turn. The pumpkins were tossed into the exhibit making an impressive splash.

Our two grizzly bears, 16-year-old brothers Keema and Denali each grabbed a pumpkin and took them to their own spot. It didn’t take long for them to smash open their pumpkins and enjoy the innards, the evidence all over their faces.

You can see elephants, gorillas, hippos and more enjoying pumpkin treats at this weekend’s Pumpkin Bash on Saturday and Su…

Building a backyard habitat exhibit

Posted by: R. Scott Vance, Exhibit Interpreter

When the Chilean flamingo exhibit was constructed in 2007, one of our older non-animal exhibits had to go: the Our Backyard exhibit that focused on planting and caring for native, wildlife-friendly shrubs, trees and flowers. But we knew this wouldn’t be forever.

We have just begun the new iteration of Our Backyard, re-purposing the small orchard in our Family Farm. Despite the new location, the focus remains to demonstrate ways to bring wildlife closer to home. We’ll share seasonal programs that show people how to offer food, water, shelter and a place to raise young for our native wildlife. We’ll also show visitors ways to help mitigate the detrimental effects of modern lifestyles ― from toxic chemicals and pesticides (Just say no!), to keeping our pets from preying on wildlife.

A new path will wander through a special corner of the zoo toxic free and will include drought-resistant native plants, drinking water sources, food and shelter to …

It’s tea time in the garden

Posted by: Kiley Jacques, Senior Rose Gardener

Do you take cream and sugar or pulverized fish and elephant poop with your tea? This isn’t Tetley’s folks! We are talking about compost tea—that mysterious concoction that has many environmentally-concerned folks thinking of alternatives to pesticides. From the inception of our Natural Care horticulture program at Woodland Park Zoo, we have approached the application of this mighty brew as one component of a system intended to support sustainable landscape management. It works in conjunction with other biology-based techniques; it is important to understand that we don’t look to its use as a cure-all for disease problems.
Every Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m., I can be found unrolling a bright yellow 200 foot hose while our 250 gallon tank makes its scheduled appearance via forklift. While we prepare for our four hour spray session, the questions start coming. So many visitors find this all very intriguing. Most start with: What is compost …

Flamingo chick learning flamingo ways

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

What sound does a flamingo chick make? How well can it stand on one leg? See for yourself in our latest video:

The chick’s vocalizations are actually quite important for survival. Just 5-12 days after hatching, flamingo chicks within a colony leave their nests and form a crèche of similar-aged chicks watched over by a few adults. For subsequent feedings, parents locate their offspring in the crèche through voice recognition.

How do the parents recognize their chick’s voice? Hours before hatching, flamingo chicks begin vocalizing within the egg. This establishes a bond with their parents so they can locate each other even within a flock of thousands!

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Flamingo chicks hatch on exhibit

Posted by: Mark Myers, Curator

Stop by the flamingo exhibit and you’ll notice two small, white puffs emerging among all those pink feathers. That’s because two Chilean flamingo chicks hatched at the start of October, and are being cared for now by their parents out in the flamingo exhibit.

This is the first time that our colony of flamingos is raising chicks on exhibit. Last year, the flock produced three chicks which were hand-raised by the zoo’s team of expert staff before being introduced to the colony. The flock decided to breed a bit late in the year, but the chicks are well insulated and should have no problems with acclimating to colder temperatures. Chilean flamingos typically breed at very high altitudes in the Andes.

So far, the parents are doing a great job of caring for their young. With flamingos, both parents care for their chick, feeding them “crop milk,” a dark red secretion produced in the upper digestive tract. The substance is nutritionally similar to milk that is prod…