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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do the Meerkute!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’ve been thinking about the things that make meerkats special, and their distinctive moves—scurrying to burrows or acting as sentinels—really stand out. And now, we honor those moves with some dance moves of our own!

Presenting…“Do the Meerkute”

Show us how you “Do the Meerkute.” Download the free mp3 (recognize that voice? It’s The Presidents of the United States of America’s Chris Ballew!) and make your own dance video. Then submit it as a video response to our YouTube video. Full instructions are available on our website.

Of course, the meerkats are more than just cute—and we encourage you to come see them for yourself and learn all about their social structure and amazing adaptations. Don’t miss their debut on May 1 with opening day festivities including live music, meerkat-themed giveaways, keeper talks, crafts and more. We hope to see you there!

Video credits:
Producer: WONGDOODY, Seattle; Composer: Eric Englehorn; Vocals: Chris Ballew; Sound Design: Clatter & Din; Sound Engineer: John Buroker.

Friday, April 23, 2010

ZooTunes line-up revealed

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The much-anticipated BECU ZooTunes presented by Carter Subaru summer concert series is back for its 27th season! Be ready for a stellar line-up of performers. The concert series starts Sunday, June 27 with Grammy-nominee Jewel and runs for 10 extraordinary concerts, ending with Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project on Sunday, August 29 — with an incredible line-up of artists in between.

Tickets go on sale 8:00 a.m., Monday, May 3 at local Metropolitan Market locations and at the zoo.

6/27 Jewel with Radney Foster ($28)

6/30 Steve Earle with special guest Joe Ely ($21)

7/14 Carbon Leaf ($24)

7/18 The Round 62 at the Zoo: A multi-arts collaborative show featuring Star Anna, Damien Jurado, and many more ($15)

7/21 Jimmy Cliff with Trevor Hall ($24)

7/29 Great Big Sea ($22)

8/3 Mary Chapin Carpenter / Shawn Colvin ($24)

8/11 The Levon Helm Band with Joe Pug ($26)

8/25 John Hiatt & The Combo ($22)

8/29 Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project ($27)

There are lots of new concert features to check out too, including VIP upgrades, concert-night childcare, and eastside shuttles. Get all the details at our ZooTunes website.

Which concerts are you looking forward to?

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Curious meerkats

Posted by: Martin Ramirez, Curator

This week all eight meerkats were given access to one of the two rooms in their exhibit. In preparation, keepers coated the guest viewing window with wax. This is typically done so that animals see that there is a barrier there and don't run into it. After we let these little guys out they explored the entire exhibit from top to bottom. When they finally found the window they actually seemed annoyed that they couldn't see out!

So we cleaned off a small section about 8 inches in diameter. All eight tried to peek through the small opening so we had to make it bigger. While we cleaned off the wax with a towel, one of the meerkats stood on the other side of the glass and seemed mesmerized by the circular motions of the towel. It was really cute to watch!
At this point we decided to remove most of the wax to allow them to watch some of the last minute preparations taking place outside their exhibit. Later this week we will introduce the group to zoo staff to observe how they are going to react to crowds, like the ones we hope to get this summer. If the window cleaning encounter was any indication, they are going to be just fine.

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Celebrate National Volunteer Week

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

It’s National Volunteer Week this April 18 through 24, and we want to take a moment to thank our phenomenal 762 volunteers who give of their time, talents and devotion to animals and nature. Their dedication, whether it's helping to dice vegetables for gorillas, assist keepers with cleaning or the horticulture staff with our botanical collection, helping at public events, educating the public or providing office support, and the myriad of other tasks, helps us promote our mission of saving wildlife and habitat.

Join us in thanking these incredible members of our community!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Earth Day book sale at the zoo

Posted by: Amy Davis, Zookeeper

This Earth Day, help us raise money for the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (PS-AAZK) by joining us at our annual book sale. Browse the selection of new and used books at the zoo on Thursday, April 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Proceeds from your purchases will go to assist our PS-AAZK keepers with conservation projects and continuing education so they can better serve our animals!

The book sale will take place in the zoo’s ARC building, located next to the West Entrance, near Zoomazium. Hope to see you there and thanks for your support!

Photo by Peter S. Miller.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meerkats arrive behind the scenes

Posted by: Martin Ramirez, Curator

Finally, the day is here. After months of preparation, Woodland Park Zoo has meerkats again—behind the scenes at the moment and getting ready to debut to public on May 1. At 10:20 a.m. today, the zoo’s eight new meerkats arrived after a long and arduous road trip of about 1 hour from our neighbors at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. Actually, this is one of the shortest trips that an animal has taken to get to our zoo!

They arrived sporting their own fingerpaint markings on their heads and backs to help keepers identify them more easily during their first few days here. The colors chosen are combinations of pink, green, yellow and red, and will fade in a day or two. Eventually we will be able to tell them apart by just looking at their faces, but for now they all look the same! Keepers will monitor them very closely for the rest of the day and possibly into the night just to make sure they settle in okay.

They will be introduced to their new exhibit in the next day or two. We'll know more about their personalities after they get comfortable with their new surroundings.

Since the beginning of the year our very talented exhibits crew has been working to convert two existing enclosures in the Adaptations Building into an exhibit that will transport our visitors to the Kalahari Desert, where meerkats are found. You will be astounded at what an artist can do with concrete and paint.

Next up we’ll be doing a health screening. This includes weights and parasite checks. Most zoos’ animals are monitored closely for medical issues so we don’t expect to find any concerns. Our hope is that we’ll have eight, healthy meerkats that accept each other and live harmoniously in their new digs. However, meerkat group dynamics are very complex so if things don't go according to plan we have a plan B. Stay tuned for more details.

Photos: Ryan Hawk (Meerkats), Martin Ramirez (Exhibit)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First video of the penguin chick

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Here's the first video of the newly hatched Humboldt penguin chick. Turn up the sound to find out what the keepers are looking for during this quick checkup:

And here's some exciting news--this chick now has a sibling, hatched on Easter Sunday!

Penguin keepers are weighing the chicks each day for the first week after hatching to ensure acceptable weight gains while allowing the parents to raise their chicks and gain experience as parents. In zoos and in the wild, both penguin parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for their young.

It will be early summer before the penguin chicks emerge from the nesting burrows and venture outdoors into the public exhibit. We'll post updates periodically as the chicks grow.

Video produced by Ryan Hawk, narration by Katie Norton/Woodland Park Zoo.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Penguin hatching

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

As we shared earlier this week, Easter has delivered an early batch of eggs to Woodland Park Zoo – Humboldt penguin eggs, that is – and the first chick was discovered to have hatched on April Fool’s Day!
The first penguin chick represents the first offspring for mother Dora and father PJ, both 3 years old. The second egg in their nest shows pipping activity and is expected to hatch on Easter Sunday. The newly hatched chick weighs 2.1 oz.

Humboldt penguin chicks hatch with grayish brown, downy feathers, which molt into completely gray feathers when they fledge. It will be early summer before any of the chicks emerge from the nesting burrows and venture outdoors into the public exhibit for visitors to enjoy.
Over the last few weeks, three pairs of Humboldt penguins have been sitting on two eggs each in the burrows specially constructed for the birds in their new exhibit. At least two of the remaining four eggs are fertile. Staff plans to candle the eggs every two weeks to determine if they are fertile, alive and developing properly. The process of candling involves holding an egg to a high powered and focused light for just a few seconds. The incubation period is approximately 40 days.
The eggs, six total in three nests, mark the first breeding and nesting season for the colony of 18 penguins since the exhibit opened last May.

According to Mark Myers, Woodland Park Zoo's bird curator, this hatching is significant for the penguin Species Survival Plan. Species Survival Plans are cooperative breeding programs that work to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos and aquariums. Myers is cautiously optimistic that the chicks will thrive under the care of their parents.

As part of the animal care protocols for penguin chicks, staff will attempt to weigh the hatchlings daily for the first five days or so. Myers tells us that as long as the chicks are achieving acceptable weight gains, they will remain under the care of their parents. It’s our goal to minimize staff intervention and allow the parents to raise their chicks and gain experience as parents. If necessary, keepers might offer supplemental feedings to chicks that fall behind the weight curve or if there is a large age difference between siblings.

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.