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Showing posts from August, 2010

Grow your own produce with Zoo Doo

Posted by: Christy Cheever, Development

This summer at the zoo we are teaching guests about the environmental benefits of eating locally, and in an earlier blog post we talked about how we also try to feed our animals locally produced food as well.

But where the food comes from is just one part of this sustainable story--we're also very involved in where it goes. As animals process their food, their bodies take in the vitamins and nourishment they need to live and thrive. The rest ends up as waste. And at the zoo, that’s the makings of some prized material…Zoo Doo.

Zoo Doo is finished, dark and rich compost with some woody material remaining. Woodland Park Zoo creates nearly 1 million pounds of compost each year saving $60,000 per year in disposal costs.
The zoo’s non-primate, herbivore animals’ manure is used for this process. This includes the elephants, hippos, zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and oryx among others. The Zoo Doo process begins when fresh manure and straw bedding are coll…

Local produce from farm to table

Posted by: Susan Parke, Education

This summer Woodland Park Zoo is promoting four different actions that we can all take to slow climate change through our food choices. One of these actions is to eat locally grown, seasonal produce, which has a lower overall carbon footprint than eating higher up on the food chain or sourcing food from far away. To do my part, I decided to join a CSA this summer—a Community Sponsored Agriculture program, just about the easiest way to get local produce from the farm straight to your dinner table.

Every week I get an email reminder from the CSA to select eight items of locally grown produce that will be included in my box. So far, as I expected, there have been mostly greens, both salad and braising, but there have also been vegetables and grains as well. My first week I selected baby fennel, spring onions, turnips, yellow potatoes, a couple of different kinds of salad greens (including arugula – yum!), braising greens and eggs. Eggs fresh from the farm…

Wild Cooper’s hawks nesting at the zoo

Posted by: Gretchen Albrecht, Zookeeper

Woodland Park Zoo’s lush habitat often attracts local wildlife. For the first time, we’ve confirmed that wild Cooper’s hawks are nesting here on zoo grounds. Their nest has been spotted in the chestnut tree in the wallaroo exhibit in our Australasia biome. The pair has successfully fledged three young birds which are still heard around the zoo food begging from time to time. They are learning to hunt on their own at this point, but they still get an occasional meal from their parents. Both adults are second year birds meaning they both hatched in 2009. We can tell this by their plumage since they are currently molting from their immature plumage (which they keep for one year) into their adult plumage. Often the nests of younger, less experienced birds are not successful or they raise fewer young, so it has been fun to see this young couple do so well with their fledglings.To get a better understanding of the population of Cooper’s hawks in the ar…

Hatchling snakes return to wild in Louisiana

The Louisiana Pine Snake Species Survival Plan is one of more than 30 field conservation projects in 50 countries around the world supported by Woodland Park Zoo. Here is an update from the field by one of the conservationists working to return Louisiana pine snakes to the wild…

Posted by: Steve Reichling PhD, Memphis Zoo Curator and Woodland Park Zoo conservation partner

Repatriating the Louisiana pine snake to the eastern portion of its historic range, 50 years after its extirpation, progressed further this August with the release of three more hatchlings. These are especially important snakes because they are carrying externally attached radio transmitters which will allow us to keep tabs on them, at least for a short while, and thereby learn a little about how they are adapting to their environment.
Early in the morning, I met staff biologists and rangers who work in the Catahoula District of Kisatchie National Forest, which is where our reintroduction is taking place. The potential …

Woodland Park Rose Garden: A natural gem

Posted by: Kiley Jacques, Senior Rose Gardener

Whether you are a native Seattleite or a visitor to the area, if you haven’t made your way to the intersection of Fremont Ave and N. 50th St, you ought to add it to your list of things to do. It is there you will find the South Entrance to Woodland Park Zoo and one of Seattle’s oldest treasures.

Established in 1924, the city’s 2.5 acre Rose Garden was developed with the intention of serving as a “civic garden.” It was to be a place for urban dwellers to enjoy a serene respite as well as learn about roses that perform well in our Pacific Northwest climate. The garden has always had an educational aspect to it and, to this day, that mission remains strong.

At a time when issues of global environmental sustainability are at the fore, it is exciting to see efforts being made in our shared backyard. Here, in our beloved garden, we have implemented a new and holistic approach to natural landscape management. The idea is to look at the garden as …

Lions, tigers, jaguars...and chicken

Posted by: Martin Ramirez, Curator

Lions, tigers and jaguars eating less red meat at the zoo? Who would have thought?! But if you think about it, carnivores in the wild will catch and eat the occasional fish or fowl to supplement their diet, so why not in a zoo?

All of the zoo's carnivores receive a commercially prepared diet that meets their nutritional needs. These diets consist of red meat and are fed most of the week. However, there are some benefits to eating whole chickens or turkeys once a week. The bones in uncooked fowl help keep their teeth clean and the animals welcome the variety. Chickens can be offered to the animals in interesting ways. They can be hidden in the exhibit or hung from a spot where the animal has to reach for it. By reducing the red meat our carnivores eat we're not only improving their overall health, we’re also helping the environment.

Researchers have determined that 2.5 times more oil is used in the production of red meat than with chicken. For ex…

Get your zoo photo on our calendar cover

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Woodland Park Zoo is a photographer’s paradise so take your best shot and enter it for a chance to win the cover of Woodland Park Zoo’s 2011 calendar, hitting member households this November.


Photographers—amateur and professional alike—are invited to submit their best animal photograph taken at Woodland Park Zoo. To enter, upload your photo to http://www.zoo.org/calendar-contest from August 16-30. Zoo judges will select their top 10 choices and open up the final voting to the public.

Voting takes place online from Sept. 7-10, when the finalist photos will be posted to the zoo’s Facebook page. There you can cast votes by clicking a photo’s “Like” button. The photo with the most “Likes” as voted on by zoo fans will win the cover shot and a prize package including a one-year zoo membership for two adults and two children, plus a $50 zoo gift card.

What makes for a winning photo? We’re looking for photographs that showcase the beauty and drama of th…

Come to our first Zoo Fan Meetup

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’re hosting our first ever Zoo Fan Meetup on Sun., August 22 during Seattle Geek Week and we’d love to meet our blog readers in person!

Come on out and meet zoo staff and other zoo fans, and spend your day getting some sweet discounts, giveaways and exclusive activities as our thanks to you for being our biggest fans. Meetup is free with zoo admission or membership.
Here's what's happening that day:

- Download your coupon to get $2 off admission that day
- Stop by our booth in the West Plaza near penguins any time from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and enjoy:
o First 20 people to stop by our booth and say the magic phrase get a special surprise gift. Stay tuned to our Facebook updates for the magic phrase!
o Yummy, gourmet cookies (while they last!)
o Zoo Grab Bag! Reach into our grab bag and be rewarded with either:
- Free carousel ride
- Free seed stick at Willawong Station
- Free giraffe feed…

Two more penguin chicks hatched

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

With five chicks hatched in April, we were thrilled with the breeding success of our endangered Humboldt penguin colony in just the first year of their new exhibit. Well, now there’s even more to cheer. Two more penguins just hatched at the start of August!



The keepers regularly weigh the chicks to ensure they are achieving acceptable weight gains. At the weigh-in today, the 12-day-old chick came in at just over 1 lb and the 9-day-old chick at 0.6 lb. They looked healthy and it seems their parents, 18-year-old mother Cujo and 20-year-old father Oedipus, are properly caring for them in their off-exhibit nesting burrow.

The parents are among the oldest penguins in the zoo’s colony and also the most genetically valued breeding pair at the zoo. As part of our work in the Species Survival Plan for the endangered Humboldt penguins, ensuring such genetic diversity is critical to the stability of the population.

The two chicks will stay under the care of…

Cologne passes sniff test for snow leopards

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The endangered snow leopard is elusive and hard to study in the wild. So researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust, a Woodland Park Zoo conservation partner, are testing with us a new method of luring these felines to research sites—Calvin Klein Obsession for Men.
Today, we tested the appeal of the cologne on our 1-year-old cubs Gobi and Batu, and their mom Helen. We installed a camera in the snow leopard exhibit and sprayed the cologne around the area of the camera in hopes of capturing stop-action images and measuring the reaction of the cats to the lavender, spice and woody elements of the cologne. The results? Well, we wouldn’t quite call it an obsession, but the cats are definitely interested in Obsession. The cologne proved to be a strong attractant…eventually. It just took the cats several minutes before they caught the scent and became interested in it, rubbing up to the areas where the scent was splashed.The novelty of the camera in thei…

Eat locally…at the zoo

Posted by: Jim Bennett, Marketing

His ultimate vision is to construct a semi-closed system aquaponic operation behind the zoo’s Rain Forest Food Pavilion, raising trout and cycling the waste to grow herbs and salad greens. The herbs would be used in Lancer Catering’s food service operations; the trout as treats for the zoo’s penguins. And no packaging or shipping would be needed to get the food to market.

Far fetched? I talked to executive chef Brandon Bretz and general manager Maureen Gulley of Lancer Catering, Woodland Park Zoo’s food concession partner, about how they help the zoo source food locally to minimize their carbon footprint. While aquaponics is an amazing vision worth exploring for the future, what Lancer does right now is remarkable in its own right.

Fish served at the zoo’s Pacific Blue Chowder House is sourced locally from Ballard Seafood using updated guidelines from Seafood Watch. Produce is also brought in from local growers via Charlie’s Produce. Bretz doesn’t just c…

Shop like an animal

Posted by: Andrea Barber, Education

If you plan on coming to the zoo this summer, you may see me pushing a cart filled with a colorful array of plastic fruits and vegetables.

The cart is taken on a journey nearly every day this summer to different locations around the zoo. This special cart is our Animal Farmer’s Market, the scene for the summer education program, “Shop like an Animal.”

Grab a basket and one of our summer program presenters will show you how to shop. There are 5 different animals from the zoo that you can shop for: a tiger, gorilla, meerkat, brown bear or giraffe. Each animal has different dietary needs in order to be healthy, and a shopping list shows you the quantity and types of food these animals really eat in one day. Depending on the animal you pick, you are assigned a budget with a certain amount of “Carbon Bucks” with which to shop.

There are a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and treats in our Animal Farmer’s Market. Each food is assigned a Carbon Buck amount…

Red panda gets a physical

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
Yesterday our 3-year-old, female red panda underwent a full physical examination by our animal health team as part of our preventive care program for all animals at the zoo.The routine check-up included a weigh-in, blood work and radiographs. The healthy red panda came in at 27 pounds.As part of our efforts in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, this female will be paired with our 6-year-old male in an off-view area for their upcoming breeding season in the winter. Since these two have never had any offspring before, their genes are particularly valuable to maintaining genetic diversity in the red panda population.In the wild, fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations. We can all do our part to help reduce our impact on wild h…