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Showing posts from February, 2011

Otter wins WPZ Best Picture

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


The King's Speech may have taken home the Oscar, but the academy of zoo fans voted for their own Best Picture this past week and the award goes to...



This otter video, featuring our two river otters enjoying a heart-shaped, fish-filled popsicle for Valentine's Day, took home the prize of WPZ Best Picture with 29% of the vote.

We want to thank you all for voting! It helps us get a better sense of what types of videos you all enjoy most and sparks some ideas for what we might do next. Stay tuned to this blog or our YouTube channel to catch new videos when they debut--one of them may just be a Best Picture winner next year.

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Animal spotlight: Nina

Posted by: Carolyn Austin Sellar, Zookeeper


This is the second installment of our new series:Animal Spotlight.
Everybody knows Nina… if not by name then by sight. Yes, she has wrinkles (we call them her “distinguishing character lines”). Yes, she is a little bit round (hey, she’s short for her weight). She often holds a stick (every 43-year-old female should have a scepter or staff). Her favorite colors are red and pink, and yes, her tongue does stick out when she is relaxed!

At the gorilla unit we can all tell Nina’s mood by what we call the “tongue gauge.” When annoyed, her lips purse tightly and her tongue is completely in her mouth. But when relaxed and happy, out comes the tongue!

This year Nina turned 43. She is our oldest female western lowland gorilla here at Woodland Park Zoo. Now a great grandmother, Nina has seen a lot of changes at the zoo. She is very relaxed and unfazed when the younger female gorillas act up and is considered the solid rock in the group. She keeps everythin…

More joey spotting

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Last week we posted a first look at the joey that wallaroo Fergie is carrying. At the time, all we could see was a tail. But zookeeper Wendy Gardner was in the right place at the right time and snapped these new pics revealing the face of the joey in the pouch. The joey was born at Woodland Park Zoo last September to first-time mother Fergie and father Harry. Fergie is on public view in the zoo’s Australasia exhibit and can be identified by the green tag in her right ear. You’ll most often find her in the indoor portion of the exhibit (except on sunny days when she ventures outside) and your best chance to get a glimpse of the joey is when she cleans her pouch.
Photos by Wendy Gardner/Woodland Park Zoo.

Vote for WPZ Best Picture

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


The Oscars are coming up and we have some Best Picture nominees of our own featuring Woodland Park Zoo’s superstars—our animals, our staff and our conservation efforts.

We’ve picked five top nominees from videos produced in 2010 for our YouTube channel and now through February 27, you can cast your vote here for your Best Picture choice.

And the Best Picture nominees are...

Lion training


Penguin chicks


Flamingo squeaks


Moment of silence


Otter valentine



Cast your vote for WPZ Best Picture


We’re always experimenting with video ideas and our diverse nominees show off that variety. Your votes and feedback help us understand what our viewers want and help shape upcoming videos. Thanks for participating!

Videos produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo. See more at www.youtube.com/woodlandparkzoo.

First pics of Fergie's new baby

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

That’s not an alien poking a snaky arm out of wallaroo Fergie’s pouch, but the naked tail of her young joey.



Young wallaroos, a type of small kangaroo from Australia, are born weighing less than a gram and roughly the size of a bean. The blind, hairless babies make the long trek after birth into the mother’s pouch where they suckle and develop over several months.



Fergie’s joey, born September 14th, currently weighs somewhere in the range of 500-1,000 grams and at a little over 6 months old, is only just beginning to be seen sticking arms, legs or, in this case, its tail, outside mom’s pouch. By around 7 months, the joey will emerge from the pouched, fully furred but remaining close to mom for another 3-4 months—about late June or early July for this joey. The gender of the joey isn't yet known.

Fergie is on exhibit in our Australasia exhibit. The best chance to get a glimpse of the joey is when Fergie is cleaning her pouch, even though zoo visito…

Keeper connects young family with elephants

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


What do 44-year-old elephant Bamboo, 42-year-old elephant Watoto, 32-year-old elephant Chai, and 5-year-old human Karina have in common? A special bond with Woodland Park Zoo elephant keeper Russ Roach.

Karina and her elephant-loving, big sister Jadyn first came to an elephant keeper talk with their parents more than two years ago and there they met Russ. The elephant keeper talk is one of the most popular at the zoo, filled with the elephants displaying fascinating adaptations as they munch on apples and carrots while Russ or one of the other elephant keepers talks to visitors about the conservation issues impacting elephants in the wild.

Karina was immediately drawn to the large yet graceful elephants and their knowledgeable keeper, and her parents, Julie and Mark, found themselves taking her back week after week to learn more about elephants from Russ.

As her mother puts it, “Karina is absolutely captivated by the elephants and would stay ther…

Valentine’s spotlight: Zoo members tie the knot

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


The zoo’s lush 92 acres make a naturalistic home for more than 1,000 animals—and a stunning backdrop for any wedding. In the spirit of romance on this Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting one of the many weddings held at Woodland Park Zoo in the last year—the wedding of Seattle lovebirds Ethan and Anne Loomis Thompson.

For Anne and Ethan, Woodland Park Zoo has always been a favorite date spot. As members, they visit often to connect with their favorite animals—the red pandas, toucans, hornbills, hippos, armadillos and penguins.

When it was time to plan for their big day, the couple wanted not only a beautiful setting, but also for their wedding to support a cause that matters to them. Their minds quickly turned to Woodland Park Zoo. They had seen the zoo transform into a gorgeous event setting each time they attended the zoo’s annual Jungle Party fundraiser, and it was there that they learned about two community-focused zoo conservation programs …

New spots at zoo

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications


A set of new spots and striping has appeared at the zoo with the birth of an ocelot! A single kitten, seen here at 3 weeks old, was born on January 15 to 10-year-old mother Bella and 15-year-old father Brazil.

At this early stage, keepers want to minimize disturbance and physical contact outside of quick health check-ups to give the new family time to naturally bond. So for now, the mother and kitten are off public view in a dark birthing den and keepers are monitoring their progress via infrared camera. Here’s a peek at some of the black and white footage from baby’s first few weeks:



Where’s dad? Like in the wild, mother ocelots care for their young alone. Brazil is keeping his distance and can be seen on exhibit in the award-winning Tropical Rain Forest. Curator Mark Myers tells us that Bella, an experienced mother, has been providing excellent round-the-clock and protective maternal care. The kitten is nursing regularly and has a healthy, round…

The way to an otter’s heart

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


A splash of fruit juice, a handful of smelt, and lotsa love are surefire ingredients to a river otter’s heart.

Our annual Valentine’s Day enrichment event is coming up on Saturday, and we gave press a sneak peek of the action today when we let our river otters indulge in some fish-filled, heart-shaped ice pops. River otters Sunny, a 15-year-old female, and Duncan, a 13-year-old male, swam with amazing speed and agility to chase after the pops that were dropped into their pool in the award-winning Northern Trail exhibit. After munching their way through the ice pops, we gave the otters another enrichment opportunity—a heart-shaped wreath stuffed with frozen smelt.

The wreath proved the perfect size for the otters to swim through as they picked off the frozen fish.

Love will be in the air for the zoo’s other animal ambassadors as they celebrate Valentine’s Day with heart-shaped ice pops, herbal bouquets, heart-shaped steaks, and more on Saturday, F…

Animal spotlight: Naku

Posted by: Carolyn Sellar, Zookeeper


Introducing a new series to the blog...
Who is:
a rowdy 10-year-old gorilla;with ears that stick out;a female in silverback Pete’s troop;who is leaving soon to start a new family?Our girl Naku (aka Nakunator or Naki, as her keepers sometimes call her)!

This spring Naku will fly to Milwaukee, the land of cheese, breweries, and Laverne and Shirley. There she’ll be introduced to some new gorillas in hopes of starting a brand new family, including handsome resident male gorilla, Cassius, and female Shalia, who is also arriving new to Milwaukee, coming from Toronto.

Naku’s 10th birthday was a very significant gorilla birthday. Her first double-digit birthday is a milestone that means she is mature enough physically and emotionally to become part of the cooperative breeding effort known as the Gorillas Species Survival Plan. This timing corresponds to the age at which wild gorillas begin to venture off to look for a new group to belong to, or begin a new dyna…

Do the pedal wave

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications


Seattle sports fans are well known for doing the wave, but did you know that snails also perform their own version?

Here's a short video clip of our Partula snails doing what’s called the pedal wave:



To get from place to place, snails first lay down a trail of mucus. Then they essentially surf over a trail of their slime. But that's only half of the story. Snails also have two types of muscles working in conjunction to propel them forward. A set of light and dark colored bands of muscle fibers relax and contract, in a process called a pedal wave. These muscles pull the snail forward while the other fibers push from behind.

The same process works with most gastropod species, i.e., snails, a Latin term meaning "stomach-foot" that accurately sums up their anatomical structure!

And that super tiny snail in the clip? That’s a baby Partula, that starts out life little more than the size of the head of a pin, and is seen here at about a thir…

Animal enrichment enriching for families too

Posted by: Nicole Aragon, Education


As the Child and Family Program Coordinator here at Woodland Park Zoo, I must admit that I do spend a fair amount of time at my desk. But every now and then, I get to take part in some amazing opportunities that could happen nowhere else. One of these amazing experiences was in a class for families that I taught recently, which will be offered again this spring, called Animal Enrichment.

Enrichment is an important aspect of animal health here at Woodland Park Zoo. We provide enrichment that encourages animals’ natural behaviors like foraging, browsing, hunting, seeking out new scents and marking territories. The animals in our care are important ambassadors for their wild counterparts and we work very hard to ensure they lead healthy, enriched lives.

During the class, we toured zoo grounds and I talked about many of the different enrichment items we offer to our animals—everything from Chanel No. 5 to paper bags. Tropical Rain Forest keepers even gave …