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Showing posts from July, 2010

Teens release endangered turtles into wild

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Zoo Corps teen interns Garrett Brenden and Ariel Thompson stood at the edge of a pond in a south Puget Sound protected wildlife area yesterday and released from their hands something precious…hope for the endangered western pond turtle.
Garrett (shown above) and Ariel have been working alongside zookeepers to raise 76 western pond turtles behind the scenes at the zoo as part of a headstart program to recover their wild population. Turtle hatchlings are collected from the wild then raised here until they are around 2 ounces—large enough to escape the mouths of bullfrogs and large-mouth bass—giving them an edge on surviving in the wild.
Each summer, we take trips to several protected wildlife areas and release these headstarted turtles back into the wild where we continue to monitor them. Since starting the program in 1991, we’ve seen the population of western pond turtles grow from a dangerously low 150 to now 1,500—a positive sign that this coll…

Thanks Top Ten Toys

Posted by: Jim Bennett, Marketing

Zoomazium, our indoor, nature play space, serves thousands of kids every year, so our toys in there take quite a beating! To best serve our littlest zoo goers, we needed to replenish Zoomazium with quality, durable toys and local merchants Top Ten Toys answered the call to help us out. We are grateful to owner Allen Rickert and his staff who generously worked with Zoomazium Program Coordinator Kristi Dodds to find just the right selection of toys to donate to the zoo…

Families can now enjoy these new toys at Zoomazium during zoo hours. For a bigger selection, head to Top Ten Toys just north of the zoo in the downtown Greenwood business district at 104 N. 85th Street. Thanks Top Ten Toys!

10 million video views and counting

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’ve been watching the counter on our YouTube channel for the last few days waiting for the magical moment, and it’s finally here—we’ve reached 10 million video views!

It all started back in 2006 when we launched our YouTube channel and one of our very first videos, “Cute Baby Tiger,” remains our most popular video to date:



Now more than 60 videos later, we want to take the time to thank you all for watching and sharing our stories about the amazing animals at Woodland Park Zoo and the work we do to provide excellent animal care, conserve animals and habitats around the world, and provide engaging, educational experiences. We could not have done it without you!

What animal or zoo topic would you like to see a video on next?

Keeper of the Year

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Yesterday concluded National Zookeeper Week—a time to recognize and thank all the amazing keepers here at Woodland Park Zoo and beyond. They work hard every day to care for and enrich the lives of zoo animals, help to save and protect their wild counterparts, and connect with zoo visitors during their talks and public programs inspiring them to learn, care and act on behalf of wildlife everywhere.

At our annual zookeeper week lunch, curator Nancy Hawkes announced the winner of the 2010 Keeper of the Year award—John Samaras. If you are a regular zoo blog reader, you have seen glimpses of John in our photos of the penguin chicks behind the scenes. That’s just one part of the fascinating and rewarding work he does at the zoo.

What is it like to be a zookeeper? Read our Q&A with John:

1.) How long have you been a zookeeper? When did you start working at Woodland Park Zoo?
I started in the zoo field in 1997 in maintenance at the Akron Zoo and becam…

Tawny frogmouth hatches

Posted by: Mark Myers, Curator

This tiny, white puffball is a tawny frogmouth chick that hatched at the zoo on July 11. When our first ever tawny frogmouth chick hatched last year, internet users raged in debate whether it looked more like a furby, a cottonball, or a tribble, but it’s actually a nocturnal bird native to Australia and Tasmania. Seen here at five days old, the chick still sports downy feathers, but soon it will start to acquire its flight feathers and darker contour plumage that acts as camouflage, blending into the color and texture of tree bark.

In the chick’s first week, keepers provided supplemental feedings to ensure good weight gain:



Under its parents’ attentive care behind the scenes at the zoo, the chick is now gaining 15-20% of its body weight daily so supplemental feedings are no longer required. The parents and hatchling will remain off public exhibit to allow staff to monitor parental care and ensure regular feedings by the parents.

The hatching is significant f…

Growing food for the animals

Posted by: Kathryn Owen, Education

When it comes to enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, what could be better than being able to pluck a ripe tomato or crisp head of lettuce out of your very own garden? For Woodland Park Zoo’s gorilla troops, fresh-off-the-vine produce is just that accessible. In the winter they may be dining on evergreen elaeagnus leaves, and in the summer they may be stuffing themselves with grape leaves and tender vines.

A wide variety of animals at the zoo enjoy fresh produce from the zoo’s browse program, which provides fresh leaves, stems and flowers for gorillas, red pandas, colobus monkeys, orangutans, elephants, tree kangaroos and many others. You and I use the term “browse” to mean sampling and exploring—like browsing the shelves of a bookstore in search of something appealing. But the term also refers to the plant materials eaten by browsers—that is, herbivores or plant-eaters that eat the leaves, stems and flowers right off the tree or bush instead of grazi…

Android app now available

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Since we launched the first-of-its-kind GPS-enabled zoo iPhone app back in October 2009, we've received many requests for an Android version. We've been working hard the last few months with our partners at AVAI Mobile Solutions, and the Android version is finally here and ready to download! The app functions the same as the iPhone version with useful features to help plan your trip and enhance your visit on grounds, including:
- GPS-enabled zoo map with “Near Me” recommendations for animal exhibits, play areas, concession stands and restrooms
- daily schedule of zoo activities including zookeeper talks and children’s programs
- educational animal fact sheets with multimedia including video, photo and sound files
- special promotional offers redeemable at concession stands
- zoo news and happenings
- easy access to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your zoo experience

To see the mobile app in action (demonstrated on an iPhone), watch this…

Jungle Party a roaring success

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’re still winding down from our 34th annual Jungle Party, held last Friday on the zoo’s North Meadow with nearly a thousand zoo supporters in attendance. What a party!

Even in the heat, we enjoyed dining al fresco with up-close animal encounters and tours, while the graceful Versatile Arts aerialists entertained.



This year’s theme, “Big Claws, Big Cause,” commemorated the felines living at the zoo such as snow leopards, jaguars and Sumatran tigers. And our guests must have been inspired by the theme, because some ferocious bidding on our amazing auction items helped bring our fundraising total to $1.7 million—exceeding our goal by $300,000!

Jungle Partiers were especially moved by the animal care focus of our Fund-Our-Future effort this year, with a record-breaking $832,000 (of the $1.7 million raised) dedicated to the fund which will help us support the zoo’s exceptional animal and veterinary care and exhibit upgrades. The funds will go toward…

Penguin chicks debut, youngest needs name

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Our five Humboldt penguin chicks have joined the adult colony and can now be viewed on exhibit during zoo hours. To get them used to being in the water before they debuted, the chicks had round-the-clock access to a shallow pool behind the scenes at the exhibit where they could practice floating and swimming in a more controlled and less crowded environment. See them in action here…



The youngest of the chicks, a male hatched to parents Diego and Radar on April 25, is in need of a name and we’re asking our online fans to help.

Fans can submit name suggestions for the chick to the wall of our Facebook page beginning July 7 through July 8, noon PST. To honor the Humboldt penguin’s Chilean and Peruvian native range, fans are encouraged to submit Spanish-language names. Penguin keepers will select their three favorite names from the submissions, and fans will then vote on July 9 on the zoo’s Facebook page for their top pick. So start thinking up some n…

Meerkats get names

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

You cast the votes, we tallied (for hours and hours!), and it’s decided. Today we revealed the names you selected for our new mob of four female and four male meerkats—though the meerkats were far more interested in the watermelon enrichment they received as part of our Red, White & Zoo celebration!
The winning names, in order of most votes received:
ZIMBA (Zambian town)
NATA (southern African river)
MOLOPO (southern African river)
KIWANO (Kalahari fruit)
KALAHARI (African desert)
DINAWA (“beans” in Tswana)
ACACIA (African tree)
NGAMI (lake in Botswana)

We received more than 2,600 ballots through our naming contest presented by U.S. Bank and The Seattle Times that ran from June 1-June 15. You had the chance to select up to eight of your favorite names from 16 choices that reflected the meerkats’ native southern African habitat. We counted more than 16,600 individual votes in total for the different names!

Big thanks to you all for voting! As a reward…