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Showing posts from September, 2011

Happy 2nd birthday, Adia!

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications




Our youngest African lion ambassador, Adia, turned 2 last week and showed just how frisky and fearless young cats are.


The female South African lion dug into her birthday cake specially prepared by zookeeper Matt Mills: a gourmet round of ground turkey stuffed with a whole raw chicken and topped with a pair of drumstick candles. Since Adia scarfed up every morsel and bone, the cake obviously earned a five-drumstick rating.


Next, Adia opened her gift box and out rolled a boomer ball, a favorite toy of the 240-pound lion. As kids and families squealed with wonder, Adia put on quite a show “dribbling” the ball throughout the exhibit. She had so much fun that at one moment the ball rolled into the moat filled with water and she dove straight into the water after it! Keep in mind that lions don’t swim and are averse to water. Adia was submerged to her shoulders before realizing she was in the water. She jumped out and, if she had a thought bubble…

Autumn light

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Fall has arrived and the autumn equinox is September 23! This Friday, September 23, the autumn equinox will take place at precisely 9:04 a.m. The autumn equinox occurs once a year when the earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the sun. This means that the hours of daylight and night time are exactly the same: 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night.

After September 23rd, the earth's axis, and the North Pole, will begin to tilt away from the sun. The sun rises lower and lower in the sky so the days start getting shorter until December's shortest day of the year. This creates wonderful long shadows that stretch across the ground during autumn and early winter.

The zoo is a perfect place to watch these shadows move, since we have so many tall trees and open spaces. Artists and photographers should take advantage of this time of year. The light is softer in the fall, because the sun's rays are not as direct. There i…

Prepping endangered frogs for release

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



We’re getting ready to release more than 700 endangered Oregon spotted frogs into the wild next month. Before we can let the juvenile frogs go, we have to tag, weigh, sex and measure them so that state biologists can identify and track them once they’re released.

Not surprisingly, it takes a long time to do all that 700 times! Our zookeepers joined a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist on Monday for the hours-long process of prepping all 700 frogs, with more days of prep still to come.

Frog prepping
Step one: Break out the ruler and record the frog’s measurements. 

Step two: Place the frog in a container on a scale (then cover quickly so it doesn’t jump away!) and take its weight.


Step three: Insert identification tag on select frogs.


Step four: Note the sex of the frog and make sure all data is recorded.


These frogs are just weeks away from being released, but they started their lives here late last winter when they arrived as …

Coffee is life for more than just Seattleites

Posted by: Hilary Aten, Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife)


A home in the remote forests of Papua New Guinea’s Huon Peninsula. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
In the remote forests of Papua New Guinea’s Huon Peninsula, we’re brewing up something exciting with subsistence farmers—the first coffee you’ll ever have the chance to drink from this region.
Freshly picked coffee cherries. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
More than a tasty drink, this coffee is on a mission: to create a better life for the villagers of Papua New Guinea who have pledged their own land to conservation.

What’s the story behind this project?
Map of Papua New Guinea showing the YUS Conservation Area on the Huon Peninsula.
Back in 2009, the indigenous clans of the Huon Peninsula worked with Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) to make history, pledging parcels of their own land to permanent protection under the Yopno-Uruwa-Som Conservation …

News from the field: Health checks for wild penguins

Posted by: John Samaras, Penguin Keeper


This blog post is part two 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.

In part one, I blogged about the diverse wildlife I encountered on my trip to Punta San Juan in Peru where I joined zoo professionals and Peruvian biologists in conducting an annual health assessment of the wild population of Humboldt penguins.

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.

Here in part two, I’ll take you through the experience of administering the health assessments on these wild penguins, a challenging annual task that is critical to establish baseline data so we can track the health and any emergent needs of this endangered population.

From the field:
We stood at the edge of a high cliff where the flat desert abruptly en…