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Showing posts from August, 2011

Tree roo joey emerges fully from pouch

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications





Our Matschie’s tree kangaroo joey is growing up fast, so we wanted to share some new photos and video and fill you all in on how it is getting along in its behind-the-scenes exhibit.


Now eight months old, the joey has begun to leave its mother’s pouch for short bursts, doing a little exploring and then retreating back to the pouch for naps.



We do not know the sex of the joey yet so it does not yet have a name.




The joey is mostly eating leaves and munches on greens including kale, romaine and celery. Its mother, Elanna, is not so great at sharing, so the joey has learned to go after the food it wants for itself.



Elanna and joey are in a behind the scenes exhibit to give them the quiet and comfort this sensitive species requires, especially since Elanna is a first time mother. We’re using cameras and students are assisting us with observations so we can study the interactions between the mother and joey and keep a close eye on their progress.



Rescued raptors receive special gifts

Posted by: Janel Kempf, Education and Kirsten Pisto, Communications


A few weeks ago, Woodland Park Zoo education specialist Janel Kempf and co-workers went to the West Seattle Library to present the zoo’s Little Critters animal encounter program to a group of children, as part of the zoo’s community outreach.
Janel Kempf holding peregrine falcon D1. Photo by Kyle Doane/Woodland Park Zoo.
Before the show started, a little girl and her mom came up to Janel, holding out a bundle of brightly wrapped tissue paper.
Gifts for the raptors. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
When the team opened the gifts they discovered that the package contained some very thoughtful items for our raptors!

It turns out the four-year-old girl had come to the zoo’s raptor program at the Columbia Library a few weeks before, and had been very moved by the plight of our rescued raptors including Chouette, the northern saw-whet owl. Chouette came to us after she was struck by a vehicle while bug-hunting in th…

Vultures: Nature’s clean-up crew

Posted by: Susan Burchardt, Raptor Keeper


Turkey vulture Modoc in flight at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Vultures are often depicted as harbingers of death, yet many vulture populations face threats of their own with some species facing extinction. We’re celebrating International Vulture Awareness Day on September 3 to help zoo visitors look past the vultures’ bad reputation and highlight their vital ecological niche as nature’s clean-up crew.
California condor at San Diego Zoo. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Snowmanradio.
Vultures are scavenging birds that help recycle and prevent the spread of disease. But serving as a clean-up crew by feeding on carrion was partially what led to the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)—a New World vulture—dipping down to a dismally low population of just 22 birds in the 1980s. The condors were dying from feeding on lead-poisoned carcasses, and poaching and habitat destruction compounded the problem. Zoos came toget…

News from the field: Penguins of Punta San Juan, Part One

Posted by: John Samaras, Penguin Keeper



This blog post is part one of a three-part series based on Woodland Park Zoo penguin keeper John Samaras’ work in Punta San Juan, Peru with a zoo conservation partner.

As part of Woodland Park Zoo’s continuing effort in the conservation of Humboldt penguins, I had the opportunity to travel to Punta San Juan in Peru and take part in an annual health assessment of the wild population conducted by zoo professionals and Peruvian biologists. Woodland Park Zoo’s penguin exhibit, which opened in May 2009, replicates the coast of Punta San Juan, a barren desert peninsula that juts out into the South Pacific in southern Peru. Because of its proximity to the Humboldt current (a cold water current from Antarctica rich in fish and prey species) there is an amazing abundance of life on the rocky coast. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds and tens of thousands of fur seals and sea lions, as well as a large concentration of Humboldt penguins, call this place home…

News from the field: Studying impact of wind turbines on raptors

Introduction posted by: Gretchen Albrecht, Raptor Keeper
Field notes posted by: Joanna Bojarski, Raptor Keeper



Woodland Park Zoo collaborates with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to study and protect the state threatened ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) and other raptors in Washington through the Raptor Ecology of the Shrub Steppe project, one of WPZ’s Partners for Wildlife conservation programs.

As raptor keepers we play an active role in the project by educating zoo visitors about the plight of the fragile and beautiful shrub steppe habitat on which these birds depend. We also get to assist with field work through the study which allows us to see first hand the challenges these raptors face in the wild.

This year, fellow raptor keepers Joanna Bojarski, Susan Burchardt and Jean Ragland joined the project in the field to collect data on how wind farms in the region impact raptor behavior. These are Joanna’s notes from the field…


6:30 a.m. - I arrive at the first wind farm…

Bear breakfast: coffee, fruit and honey

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Keema and Denali stop to sniff each other after rolling around in coffee grounds.
Keema and Denali may not have known the world was watching, but they still put on quite the show Wednesday when we broadcast a special bear enrichment session through our newly relaunched Bear Cam.



The 17-year-old grizzly bear brothers received beehive and hornet’s nest-shaped piñatas Wednesday. While it took staff almost a week to put the piñatas together, it took the bears just minutes to destroy them!

Inside the beehive piñatas, the bears found some of their favorite fruit treats including honeydew, apples, grapes and pears. The hornet’s nest contained a pocket of honey that the bears lapped up.
Coffee grounds : bears :: catnip : cats
Scattered around the space were coffee grounds from Caffé Vita. Why coffee grounds? Since the bears have a strong sense of smell, such a pungent treat is extremely attractive and stimulating to them. The bears roll around in coffe…

20 turtles for 20 years

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


As we celebrated 20 years of native turtle conservation last week, it was only appropriate that we release 20 western pond turtles into protected habitat in our continued efforts to rebuild a stable population of this state endangered species.

The 20 turtles were collected from the wild as eggs last year, hatched and head started at Woodland Park Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Once the turtles reach a suitable size of about 2 ounces—large enough to escape the mouths of bullfrogs and large-mouth bass—they are returned to their homes and closely monitored by biologists.

Before they could be released, the turtles underwent final prep work that included measuring, weighing and notching shells (shown above) for identification.

The largest of the 10-month-old turtles were equipped with tiny radio transmitters glued to their shells so biologists can learn more about post-release dispersal, habitat use during active and hibernat…

What’s it like to be a keeper?

Posted by: Pattie Beaven, Zookeeper


Clockwise from top left: Keeper Laura McComsky works with a giraffe (photo by Brittney Bollay/Woodland Park Zoo), keeper Celine Pardo works with Humboldt penguins (photo by Matt Hagen), and keeper Edgar Fortune works with red ruffed lemurs (photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.)

The zookeeper’s profession by nature occurs mostly behind the scenes, so it can be hard for us keepers to find time outside of Woodland Park Zoo’s regularly scheduled Keeper Chats to meet and talk with zoo visitors. That’s why, in celebration of National Zoo Keeper Week, the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers hosted two days of activities here at Woodland Park Zoo where a zookeeper was available throughout the day to answer visitor questions about what it is like to be a keeper and what we do on a daily basis to care for the more than 1,000 animals that call Woodland Park Zoo home.

As part of the activities out on zoo grounds, we set up a table wi…

Bear Cam is back!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Need a little more excitement in your afternoon? How about 1,350 pounds more excitement?


Broadcasting live with Ustream
Woodland Park Zoo's popular Bear Cam is back online and streaming live via Ustream. The cam, which has been gone for more than a year, is back by popular demand and bringing you incredible views into the zoo's grizzly bear exhibit in the award-winning Northern Trail.

To celebrate the return of the cam, we're giving the bears a special enrichment treat this week: piñatas filled with coffee grounds (generously donated by our friends at Caffé Vita). Tune in on Wednesday, August 3 at 11:15 a.m. (PST) to watch the bears enjoy their stimulating enrichment treat.

On a typical day, Woodland Park Zoo’s 17-year-old grizzly bear brothers Keema and Denali can be seen foraging for food, fishing for live trout, and exploring the stimulating sights and smells in the zoo’s award-winning Northern Trail exhibit. Approximately 675 po…