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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday wishes

Posted by: Staff of Woodland Park Zoo

Happy holidays from the Woodland Park Zoo family to your family!

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

Stay warm, safe and jolly!

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Flood happy

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Unless you’ve been on a tropical getaway for the past month, you probably noticed that the Pacific Northwest welcomed in the coming winter season with regular drenchings of heavy rain. This is the time of year when leaves clog drainpipes, and puddles emerge on the streets, sometimes as big as ponds. Well, if you were a West African dwarf crocodile you would be very pleased!

Woodland Park Zoo’s male dwarf crocodile almost fully submerged on exhibit. Photo by Alex Monopolis.
Dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis) are a special type of small crocodile species found in the tropical rivers and swamps of sub-Saharan West Africa and West Central Africa. They thrive in swamps and rainforest rivers, but have also been found in Savannah flood zones where they soak up the extra moisture during the wet season, and dig burrows in heavy mud to aestivate during the subsequent dry season.

Dwarf crocodile camouflaged on exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo’s Day Exhibit. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
The dwarf crocodile is itself divided into two subspecies: The Congo dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis osborni) and the West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis tetraspis). Our West African dwarf crocodiles have a knob on their snouts which distinguish them from their Congolese cousins.

Woodland Park Zoo houses two beautiful West African dwarf crocodiles—a pair, male and female. Staying true to their timid behavior, our dwarf crocs have not revealed their names to us. In fact, their toothy grins seem to be hiding more than a few secrets. Did you know that a crocodile can go through about 3,000 teeth in its lifetime? Crocs use their chompers to catch and bite their prey, so they can’t afford to have any toothy mishaps. Instead of simply falling out, each tooth is hollow, and allows a new tooth to grow inside the older tooth. This way, when one tooth gets pulled out, there is a brand new tooth ready to go where the old one was lost. And that famous crocodile smile? It’s due to the fact that most of their teeth sit outside their mouth.

Woodland Park Zoo’s female dwarf crocodile shows her teeth. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Most of the time, our crocs take it easy. These ancient creatures rest most of the day, but their senses are always on cue. One really cool thing about crocodiles is their sensory organs. Both upper and lower jaws are covered with sensory pits, which appear as tiny, black speckles on the skin. These pigmented nodules hold bundles of nerve fibers that respond to the slightest disturbance in surface water, detecting vibrations and small pressure changes in water. These organs are known as dermal pressure receptors. While alligators and caimans only have them on their jaws, crocodiles have similar organs on almost every scale on their body! These organs make it possible for crocodiles to snap at prey, catch dinner, sense mates, and dodge dangers such as predators and other crocs even in total darkness.

Close up of male dwarf crocodile. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
So, since our crocodiles won’t disclose their names, and both share toothy smiles and croc like reflexes, how do we tell them apart? Easy. Our female is pretty tiny and weighs only 40 pounds, compared to her mate who weighs 175 pounds! Typically, female dwarf crocodiles are about 3-4 feet long and males are usually 4-5 feet long, but our male is an exception at 6.3 feet! Because of their sizable difference; the two can easily be identified.

The male dwarf crocodile, seen here, is considerably larger than the female on exhibit. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
Our crocodiles have produced 14 babies since they came to Woodland Park Zoo as young adults in 1973. Surviving offspring have been sent to zoos as far away as South Africa. In the wild, West African dwarf crocodiles eat mainly fish, but also frogs, birds and small mammals. Here at the zoo, our crocs are fed mice, rats, chicks and quail for variety, but their favorite snack is… all of the above!

A dwarf crocodile tail. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Keeper Peter Miller lets us in on something really cool to look out for when visiting our dwarf crocs—the male vocalizing to the female. The male lets out a really low growl, typically with his throat submerged in the water. This causes the water to vibrate vigorously, and water droplets begin to dance on the surface.

Like most of the 23 species of crocodiles, both dwarf crocodile subspecies are endangered due to overhunting, persecution and habitat deconstruction. Learn more about these incredible reptiles and how you can help protect them.

Dwarf crocodile in water. Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.
Our dwarf crocs can be seen in the Day Exhibit, along with the majority of our reptiles and amphibians. The best time to visit them is early morning or late afternoon, and especially on Sundays, which is feeding day!

The next time your rain gauge overflows and the puddles begin to take over the streets, head over to our Day Exhibit (where it is always nice and warm!) and say hello to our resident crocs. They will be waiting for you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The panda of the lizard world

Posted by: Diane Yoshimi, Zookeeper, with Linda Uyeda, Zookeeper

Recently born Chinese crocodile lizard. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Woodland Park Zoo recently had two female Chinese crocodile lizards (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) give birth to two litters of 11 babies in total. The crocodile lizard is an unusual reptile that gives birth to young after 9 to12 months of gestation. The newborn babies, weighing approximately 4 to 6 grams, are independent at birth and litter size ranges from 1 to 9. Since WPZ acquired a pair in 1993, there have been 70 crocodile lizard offspring born at the zoo. In December 2010 there were 115 individuals living in 22 North American institutions held in a managed program, meaning a studbook keeper recommends which individuals should be bred in order to maintain genetic diversity in the captive population.

Adult Chinese crocodile lizard (left) in a tank next to a baby Shinisaurus (right). Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The Chinese crocodile lizard is an endangered lizard found in the Guanxi province in Southern China and in 2002 previously unknown populations were discovered in northern Vietnam. This species is semi-aquatic and lives in creeks between 200–700m in altitude surrounded by broadleaf trees and conifers. This lizard has become severely endangered due to collection for the pet trade and for food, and from habitat destruction. The total population of Shinisaurus in China declined from 6,000 in 1978 to 950 in 2008 and now are listed as a CITES Appendix II animal (vulnerable) granted protection as a category I species under the Wild Animal Protection Law in China.

Chinese crocodile habitat. Photo by Jin Li Wei.
Zookeeper Linda Uyeda and I recently attended the Daguishan International Symposium on the Protection and Breeding of Shinisaurus in Hezhou, China. It was a rare opportunity for us to share data from our breeding program with other scientists in one of the range countries of this species. The aim of the symposium was to increase habitat protection and public awareness, and to promote the breeding and eventual re-introduction of Shinisaurus into the wild. We learned from Shinisaurus researcher Dr. Zheng-Jun Wu that there are several striking differences between the breeding behaviors of the lizards at Woodland Park Zoo and the husbandry parameters we maintain in comparison with the crocodile lizard program in China. For example, our lizards are kept solely indoors so the time of year at which they breed and the growth rate of the young are significantly different from that of Shinisaurus living outdoors in China. Our lizards also reach sexual maturity much earlier, as early as 13 months, due to the rapid growth of the young.

Symposium attendees viewing Chinese crocodile lizard breeding enclosures. Photo by Linda Uyeda/Woodland Park Zoo.
Attending this conference gave us the opportunity to learn about conservation efforts in China and—the highlight of the trip—to see Shinisaurus habitat at the Daguishan Crocodile Lizard Nature Reserve and to see lizards at the Beilou Crocodile Lizard breeding station. We learned a great deal about their status in the wild, the husbandry and breeding of Shinisaurus in China, and the additional steps the Chinese government would like to take to protect this species. This gathering of Chinese scientists and government officials underscores the serious threats to this species which we heard referred to as the reptile equivalent of the giant panda!

Adult Shinisaurus at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The conference was also attended by Michael Zollweg of the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations in Germany, who had visited the research station earlier this year. He shared information on the status of Shinisaurus in Europe and we spent much time comparing notes on our experiences with this species. A particularly interesting item in his presentation was that a 48-million-year-old lizard fossil from Wyoming, Bahndwivici ammoskius, was found to be nearly identical anatomically to Shinisaurus, emphasizing the ancient nature of this fascinating lizard. Michael was a source of not only valuable husbandry and natural history information on Shinisaurus, but also of useful sight-seeing information. We saw many remarkable things during our stay in China but the hospitality of our hosts and their dedication to this species are the things we’ll remember most.

Close up of baby Shinisaurus born at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The eleven baby Shinisaurus born at Woodland Park Zoo this year are currently not on view but will be placed on display when they are a little larger (at present they are each only about 5 grams). You can see the two female Shinisaurus mothers on exhibit in the zoo’s indoor Day Exhibit.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holidoo: the gift they won’t forget

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Holidoo is available now in ZooStores. Photo by Woodland Park Zoo.
The zoo’s very own Dr. Doo has been hard at work specially crafting a limited edition blend of Holidoo for the holiday season. Unlike the typical Zoo Doo compost featuring manures of nearly two dozen zoo herbivore species, the All Elephant Poo Holidoo is made up exclusively of the “end products” of the zoo’s elephants’ manure and bedding—the biggest and richest composting materials at the zoo.

ZooDooa work in progress. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Got a gardening enthusiast in your life? Holidoo makes the ideal present. Or that person who seems to have everything? Bet they don’t have Holidoo!

Holidoo's source. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The festively packaged Holidoo product is available exclusively during the holiday season only at the ZooStore in jumbo-sized, 4-gallon containers ($20). Traditional Zoo Doo compost is also available in 2-gallon buckets ($12.95) or pints ($4.95) for stocking stuffers. Holidoo and Zoo Doo purchases help support the zoo’s animal care, education programs and conservation efforts all over the world. Hurry, supplies are limited.

Gifts galore at ZooStore. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
While shopping for Holidoo, be sure to check out the loads of eco-friendly items and conservation commerce also available at the ZooStore, open daily 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (closed Christmas Day). To make shopping more convenient for you during the busy holiday season, we’ve expanded ZooStore hours at our West Entrance store. The ZooStore West will be open 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. on the first four Thursdays of December. Parking in zoo lots is free during expanded hours.

Five dollars from every ZooParent adoption directly supports the zoo's conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Prefer to shop online? Pick up zoo gift memberships and gift cards here or browse the ZooParent adoption deals.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New sloth bear undergoes quarantine exam

Posted by: Martin Ramirez, Mammal Curator

A month after arriving to Woodland Park Zoo via FedEx from Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas, 7-year-old, female sloth bear, Tasha, underwent her quarantine exam on Tuesday. At Woodland Park Zoo, the quarantine exam is the last major step in the process to clear a newly arrived animal out of standard 30-day quarantine and prepare them to move into their exhibit.

Dr. Darin Collins, the zoo’s director of Animal Health, inspects Tasha's teeth. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Tasha received a full physical examination by our expert Animal Health staff that included blood work, radiographs and weight—essential baseline data that we keep on file to reference as we track an animal’s health over their lifetime.

Close up of Tasha's claws. Sloth bears dig out insect mounds with their long, sharp claws. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Weighing in at 215 pounds, Tasha received a clean bill of health and has been approved to begin introductions to her exhibit and her new mate, Randy, the zoo’s 14-year-old male sloth bear.

The zoo's Animal Health team completes Tasha's quarantine exam. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Tasha was relocated here under a breeding recommendation by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for sloth bears. SSPs, administered by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), are cooperative breeding programs to help ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability of endangered species in North American zoos and aquariums. Tasha has never had any offspring so her genetics are particularly valuable to keeping the sloth bear gene pool diverse.

Woodland Park Zoo last had sloth bear cubs in 2004. They have since moved to other AZA-accredited zoos. Photo by Dale Unruh/Woodland Park Zoo.
While keepers will have their hands full introducing Tasha to Randy and getting the bears acquainted and comfortable together, another big project is in the works for sloth bears at the zoo. Woodland Park Zoo is currently designing a new, naturalistic exhibit complex for sloth bears, Malayan tigers, Asian small-clawed otters and tropical birds. The $19.6 million exhibit project, part of the zoo’s $80 million More Wonder More Wild Campaign, will replace the 60-year-old infrastructure that critically endangered tigers and Asian bears currently inhabit at the zoo.

Sloth bear at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
With the new exhibit design, we’ll bring visitors closer than ever to these bears, while also providing the bears with more than twice the space to accommodate multiple generations and to give the bears novel enrichment opportunities that bring out their fascinating adaptations and natural behaviors. In the new exhibit, sloth bears will use their sense of smell and dexterity to retrieve food hidden in digging pits. They will eat marrow from bones they break open in a specially designed bone-breaking pit, slurp grubs out of logs and put their vacuum-like eating style to work at a keeper-assisted feeding demonstration.

Sloth bear foraging. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
A new home for sloth bears that engages and inspires zoo visitors is especially important as Woodland Park Zoo’s sloth bears are ambassadors for their endangered counterparts in the wild, native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Their survival is challenged by fragmented populations, deforestation and the bear parts trade. Sloth bears are very rare in zoos, with fewer than 50 currently living in North American zoos.

Draft artist’s concept rendering. Courtesy of Studio Hanson/Roberts.
We hope to unveil more of the plans for the new tiger and sloth bear exhibit project early next year. Stay tuned here for updates and learn how to get involved in the project at http://www.morewonder.org/.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Snow Leopard Trust wins BBC World Challenge

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Big news: Your votes have made a difference for wildlife!

We are proud to announce our conservation partner, Snow Leopard Trust, has won 1st place in the BBC World Challenge! Thanks to your votes, they will receive $20,000 to help protect wild snow leopards and will have their story told on the BBC's international news outlets to spread the word about big cat conservation.

Congrats to the Snow Leopard Trust and our many, many thanks to you all for voting throughout October and November and helping them win this incredible global honor.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New feathers on the block

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Meet the new feathers on the block: the newest group of birds that now call Woodland Park Zoo home.

Lola is a 3-year-old, female Aplomado falcon. She is currently at the Raptor Center being trained by her keepers to become part of the free-flight raptor program and will make her debut in the show this December.

Olga, a female Steller’s sea eagle, is now on view at Northern Trail where she lives with the zoo’s male Steller’s sea eagle.
This male falcated duck can be found in the Temperate Forest marsh.
A male and two female fulvous whistling ducks can be found in the Temperate Forest marsh.

A female brown booby has joined the Humboldt penguin colony. For now, she is outdoors when weather is permitting but she will become more visible as the weather warms.

Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the Tour Guide’s Side of the Zoo

Posted by: Jennifer Larsen, Real Close Tour Guide and Tourism Marketing Coordinator

I joined Woodland Park Zoo’s marketing team in late March, and 8+ months later it still is such a thrill to call this my place of employment! Having grown up in the Seattle area, I’ve been coming to Woodland Park Zoo since I was a toddler, and it has been an amazing experience to develop a tour program to share that sense of wonder with both visitors to Seattle, as well as zoo members and more frequent guests.

Putting together the itinerary and content for our Real Close tour program which launched this year, I had the chance to meet people from all across the zoo’s departments including Animal Management, Education, Admissions, Horticulture, Animal Health, and Guest Services. Thanks to all of them, I am able to weave together stories, facts and anecdotes that entertain and inform our guests as I lead them around our award-winning exhibits.

This past summer marked our first season of Real Close tours, which included a loop through our award-winning African Savanna before going behind the scenes to operations central where guests could see the constant flow of activity at the zoo’s commissary where all the food for the animals comes through and the Zoo Doo yard (where much of the food ends up!).

I loved seeing the smiles on guests’ faces when I pulled out my keys so we can go through the locked gates; it’s one of the best feelings to show guests something they would not have had the chance to see without taking a tour. (And I have to admit, every time I use my keys to go somewhere in the zoo where an “Authorized Personnel Only” or “Employees Only” sign is hanging, it gives me a thrill!)

I’ve had tour guests who have visited Woodland Park Zoo hundreds of times, as well as guests who have never visited a zoo in their lives! From 5-year-olds to 85-year-olds, the zoo is a place where everyone can learn something new.

With the summer season over, I have developed a new tour itinerary for our winter season going on now. During these winter Real Close tours, I take our guests around our award-winning Humboldt penguin exhibit, including a look behind the gate at the mechanics that power the sustainable features of the exhibit. Then we head over to the Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, including jaguars, lemurs, colobus monkeys, and a behind-the-scenes look at the zookeepers’ prep kitchen once we’re inside the exhibit building. This itinerary showcases the diversity of our exhibits, including the amazing role that our horticulture, exhibits, and animal management teams play in creating and maintaining such fantastic displays.

If you want to try a Real Close tour for yourself or book one as a holiday surprise for the animal lover in your life, you’ll find available dates and ticket info at Real Close Tours. I hope to show you my side of the zoo sometime soon!

Photos: Bottom photo (Jaguar) by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo, all other photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chai picks Cougs to win Apple Cup

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

For the second year in a row, Asian elephant Chai made her prediction for who will win the Apple Cup. Last year her pick of University of Washington proved accurate when the Huskies won. This year she picked the Washington State University Cougars to win. Do you think her prediction will prove true or will Chai have broken her perfect record of one?

The wind and rain this morning didn’t stop a food-seeking Chai from bounding onto the field toward the identical Husky and Cougar treat piles made up of hay, apples, bamboo, football-shaped icepops, papier-mache team helmets and oversized papier-mache apples stuffed with biscuits and more apples. Ignoring the boos from the Husky fans in the crowd, Chai went straight to the Cougar pile first—the action that made her pick of the Cougs official. She munched through much of the Cougar goodies before turning to the Husky pile and snacking on those treats too.

Those of us watching tried to find meaning in the littlest things. Did Chai intentionally squash the Husky football icepop? Did she reveal her true leanings when she tossed the Coug flag into the pool?

In the end, Chai thoroughly enjoyed apples from both the Coug and Husky piles, so maybe she’s just rooting for a good game.

Today’s pachyderm prediction is a part of the zoo’s admission discount in celebration of the game. Now through Nov. 27, Husky and Cougar fans receive half off zoo admission by sporting any garb from University of Washington or Washington State University, such as a jersey, sweatshirt, hat or gloves, or showing a valid student ID from either university. The admission discount applies only to the child or adult wearing the university sportswear and is not to be combined with other discounts or promotions.
Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. Video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saving Washington Wolves

Posted by: Fred Koontz, Field Conservation; Sue Andersen, Zookeeper

Since their arrival last April, Woodland Park Zoo's new gray wolves have been delighting visitors with their majestic appearance and playful behavior. The four canids, all female, are an important way for the zoo to help tell the story about this important and endangered species from the Northwest. It also very timely, as the state Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering a state-wide wolf conservation and management plan—a proposal that Woodland Park Zoo supports.

Why Conserve Wolves?
Gray wolves, also called timber wolves, historically were found throughout North America, but they were relentlessly pursued and killed so that by the mid-1930s wolves were on the verge of extinction in the lower 48 states. Following their 1973 listing as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, wildlife management efforts have enabled wolves to make a comeback in the Great Lakes and northern Rockies. Biologists estimate that today the lower 48 states support a wolf population of about 5,000 animals; a number that is only 3% of the pre-European-settler population of 190,000 wolves.

Conservation biologists are encouraged by the ongoing recovery of gray wolves in the Great Lakes and northern Rockies, but also seek to strengthen wolf populations across a wider geographic range, including the Pacific Northwest. There are both value-based and practical reasons for sharing our lands with wolves. Many outdoor enthusiasts, for example, support wolf conservation because they believe in preserving these living symbols of wilderness and because wolves create a deeper experience for people when recreating in backcountry areas. Scientists increasingly are focusing on the roles wolves play in ecosystem health, based on recent discoveries of the ecological and economic benefits that top predators like wolves provide.

It is widely recognized that wolves, as a top predator, directly influence populations of elk, deer, moose and other prey animals. But it has only been in the last 15 years that scientists have unraveled the full extent of wolves' impacts on local fauna and flora. The recolonization of wolves in the Northern Rockies, made possible by a reintroduction program in Yellowstone National Park begun in 1994, has allowed for extensive study of how the absence or presence of wolves affects ecosystems. These wolf studies, along with other research on other predators like cougars, sea otters and sharks, have fundamentally changed our understanding of ecology and are revising conservation strategies and priorities around the world. We now know that conserving top predators is essential for building a sustainable and healthy world for people and all species.

Yellowstone research showed that when wolves were absent, over browsing by elk and moose on plants like cottonwoods, willows and aspens caused degradation of habitat and altered forest health. In areas where wolves have returned, ungulates are reduced by predation and consume less browse. In addition, in wolf-occupied areas, their prey is more vigilant and active, which further reduces browsing levels. The result is that habitat improves, animal diversity increases, and important ecosystem functions improve, such as better floodplain protection, river channel stabilization, and water quality.

Wolf presence also affects many non-prey animal species that share the same habitat. For example, increased availability of wolf-killed carcasses helps scavenging animals, such as bears, wolverines, foxes, mink, ravens, jays, eagles and vultures, especially during winter when other foods become scarce. Wolves also reduce coyote populations, thereby boosting pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, and other small animal populations. Without the presence of the top-down benefits exerted by predators such as wolves, natural areas become simplified, less diverse, and less healthy.

Wolves in Washington State
The gray wolf is an endangered species throughout Washington under state law and is endangered under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state. Wolves are a part of Washington’s wildlife heritage and were once found throughout the state, but great numbers were killed during the expansion of ranching and farming between 1850 and 1900. By the 1930s, wolves were eliminated as a breeding species in the state.

In the last decade, reports of wolves in Washington have increased, probably due to their recent population increases in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Since 2008, state biologists have documented that Washington has at least five wolf packs, totaling 20-30 animals. A few solitary wolves also are likely to occur. The five resident wolf packs, including the Teanaway Pack living only 90 miles east of Seattle, signal the possibility of population recovery for the species in Washington. State and federal wildlife authorities are monitoring the activity of these new resident wolves to learn about their habitat use, reproductive potential and emerging conflicts with people.

Zoo Supports the Proposed Wolf Conservation and Management Plan
A Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for Washington—created by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife through a four-year public process—is to be considered next month by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. The primary goals of the plan are:
1. Restore the wolf population in Washington to a self-sustaining size and a geographic distribution that will result in wolves having a high probability of persisting in the state through the foreseeable future. The plan aims for wolf recovery defined by Washington as having 15 breeding pairs of wolves and their packs, totaling about 100-350 wolves, for three years and distributed across three recovery regions. (By way of comparison, there are an estimated 2,000 cougars and 25,000 black bears living today in Washington.)
2. Manage wolf/livestock conflicts in a way that minimizes livestock losses, while at the same time not negatively impacting the recovery of the wolf population.
3. Maintain healthy and robust ungulate populations in Washington that provide abundant prey for wolves and other predators as well as ample harvest opportunities for hunters.
4. Develop public understanding of the conservation and management needs of wolves in Washington, thereby promoting the public's coexistence with this predator species.

The Woodland Park Zoological Society supports the proposed Washington State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. While it is true that wolves are naturally returning to Washington state after a 70-year absence, their recovery is far from certain. We see the plan as an important step toward building a scientifically-based, adaptive management process that will help wolves return to sustainable numbers in Washington. The issue is not only about wolves, but a myriad of other species, because it is now clear that the ecological health of many plants and animals depends on the survival of top predators. The zoo also supports the conservation of other top predators around the world, like tigers, lions and jaguars. You can learn more about the proposed Wolf Conservation and Management Plan here.

We invite you to visit the zoo to learn more about our wolves and what you can do to support wolf conservation here in Washington state and beyond.

Photos (from top): Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo; Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo; Brittney Bollay/Woodland Park Zoo; Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo; Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bid on zoo experiences at holiday auction

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Despite the fact that I’m still munching on leftover Halloween candy, I know the holiday season has arrived now that our Enrichment Giving Trees for the animals are going up and our zookeepers’ annual holiday gift auction is coming this Fri., Nov. 18.

Holiday Auction
If you are looking for an extraordinary gift that you can’t buy online or from a mall, check out Woodland Park Zoo’s Holiday Silent Auction this Friday to bid on a host of cool gifts including behind-the-scenes animal tours. You’ll get to pick from unforgettable experiences like going behind the scenes to watch an elephant bath, taking a photo with a raptor, or meeting an orangutan up close.

The silent auction is put on by the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (PS-AAZK) and will take place inside the zoo’s Education Center (near the South Entrance) on Fri., Nov. 18. Guaranteed bidding will be from noon to 2:00 p.m., and the silent auction continues from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Proceeds help support animal and habitat conservation projects around the world, the advancement of the zoo keeping profession and education outreach.

Holiday Enrichment Giving Trees
Want to treat your favorite zoo animals with their favorite treats and toys? Zookeepers with PS-AAZK have also put together a wish list of items for our zoo animals to enrich their lives and encourage their natural behaviors—everything from rope toys for raptors, to puzzle feeders for monkeys, to boomer balls for big cats (like lion Adia in the photo above). Each item on the wish list is represented by an ornament that will be displayed on one of our two Holiday Enrichment Giving Trees, found in Zoomazium and the zoo’s Education Center starting Fri., Nov. 18. Visitors can browse the wish list here or come to the zoo and choose an ornament off the tree. Place your present for the animals under one of the trees before the end of the year and the animals will get to enjoy them this winter and beyond.

Thanks to you all for your continued support and generosity!

Photos (from top): Grizzly by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, Orangutan by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo, Lion by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Black and white and fishy all over

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Have you ever wanted to feed a penguin just like our keepers get to do every day?

Here’s your chance to feed our tuxedo-clad birds!

Our Humboldt penguin feeding opportunity kicked off this month and is now available daily through April 1.

Each day from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (or until daily fish supply is depleted), visitors will have the opportunity to add a penguin feeding experience to their zoo visit. For $5, you’ll get to feed the zoo’s charismatic Humboldt penguins a handful of tasty fish and experience these endangered birds hand to beak.

You can pre-purchase your feeding opportunity at the West Entrance when you arrive (located at Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th and N. 56th streets) or head over to the penguin exhibit and purchase the upgraded experience while you are there (cash only when purchasing at the exhibit).

We have received wonderful feedback from our visitors who have had the unforgettable experience of feeding giraffes and elephants—two opportunities we make available in the summer—and we’re excited to here what you all think of this winter season feeding opportunity with some of the most magnetic birds you’ll encounter. Please share your photos and experiences with us if you get a chance to enjoy a penguin feeding this winter!

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.