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Showing posts from June, 2010

Urgent update from the field: Fire hits Cranes of Asia

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Conservation

While we celebrate the hatching of our new red-crowned crane here at the zoo, our Partner for Wildlife Sergei Smirenski of Cranes of Asia reminds us of just how precarious the balance between habitat and population is in the wild. Recently he told us of a devastating fire that burned through 90% of Muraviovka Park, a protected area of critical crane habitat in the Russian Far East.
The Amur region of Russia is an important nesting ground for the endangered red-crowned crane. Muraviovka Park was established in part to protect the diminishing wetlands which serve as a critical habitat for the crane, with an estimated population of only 2,700 left in the wild. Due to an ongoing drought, fires started by hunters or nearby farmers can present a potentially habitat destroying event that takes an already endangered species even closer to the brink.

And that is exactly what happened on the afternoon of May 2 when smoke appeared on the horizon. According to S…

Tamarins rescued from the brink

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

If you've been to our Tropical Rain Forest building, you have no doubt been drawn to the lustrously-maned little monkey from Brazil, the golden lion tamarin. But did you know that these primates are ambassadors for one of the most well-documented and inspiring stories of conservation success in the wild?

It goes back to the late 1970s, when population surveys conducted in tamarins' shrinking rain forest habitat located along a sliver of coastal Brazil discovered that these vibrantly colored primates were in severe decline: only 200-600 still existed in total and with the continued destruction of their habitat, their extinction looked imminent.

But a consortium of zoos, including Woodland Park Zoo, banded together to captive-breed and release genetically diverse golden lion tamarins back into Brazil, along with creating habitat protection plans to ensure there would be places for them to grow their population. Woodland Park Zoo contributed one…

Zoo animals go "locavore"

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

Did you ever wonder what it takes to provide food for the nearly 1,100 animals at Woodland Park Zoo? How does the zoo provide nutritionally balanced and natural diets that range from hundreds of pounds a day of hay for the elephants, oryx, gazelles and other animals to nettle leaf powder for our Partula snails? Where does it all come from?

With nearly 300 different animal species, our staff works hard to provide all the animals with the opportunity to display natural behaviors, which includes replicating as closely as possible what they would eat in the wild.
But there's even more to it than finding just the right veggies, fruits and other foods. When planning the diets for our animals, three factors are taken into consideration:
1) what is the best, nutritionally balanced diet for this particular species?
2) are those foods available?
3) can we find this food locally? What is the impact on our carbon footprint?
Are we always able to make all our fo…

Eat, swim and get ready

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Eating fish and swimming around come naturally to our Humboldt penguin chicks. But to make sure they are getting the best possible diet and are comfortable and confident in their surroundings, our keepers are currently giving the chicks some one-on-one attention behind the scenes before they join the adults out on exhibit.
The two oldest chicks, hatched April Fool’s Day and Easter Sunday, have lost their downy feathers and now have waterproof feathers for swimming. To get them used to being in water, the chicks have round-the-clock access to a shallow pool behind the scenes at the exhibit, where they can practice floating and swimming.And while eating is no problem for these chicks, they do now have to learn how to accept fish directly from their keepers like all the adult penguins do. Hand feeding is especially useful because it allows the keepers to keep track of just how much each bird is eating as well as ensuring that each individual recei…

Name the meerkats

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

You can call the meerkats cute, you can call them curious—and soon, you can call them by the names that you give them. We’re kicking off a meerkat naming contest today and the mob got in on the fun by “casting” the first votes (which mostly involved them exploring and playing with a ballot box!).

Now it’s your turn. Our “Name the Meerkats” contest, sponsored by U.S. Bank and The Seattle Times, starts today with an awesome grand prize of a trip for four to San Diego!

We have selected 16 names that reflect the meerkats’ native southern African habitat and now it is your turn to cast your vote for up to eight of your favorites. Just pick up your ballot at any participating U.S. Bank location, in The Seattle Times, on zoo grounds, or on our contest website and drop it off at any participating U.S. Bank now through June 15 to enter to win*. The eight highest vote getters from the following choices will become the new names for our four male and four …