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Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 12 of 2012

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’re counting down the zoo stories that made us smile, made us care, and made us take action this year. From fuzzy new faces at the zoo, to scaly new additions to the wild, all of these stories have been made possible because of your support. Thanks for an amazing 2012, and here’s to going wild in 2013!

12. Snowpocalypse

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Remember Snowpocalypse 2012? The year got off to a snowy start, and—despite having to close the zoo for safety—we caught a number of zoo animals having fun romping around in the snow.

11. Turtles take a wild journey

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

When we released 90 native western pond turtles to a South Puget Sound protected habitat, it was the story of turtle "2" that brought home the big hope riding on these tiny turtles. Hope for an endangered species, hope for a recovering habitat, and hope for people finding a way to live sustainably with local wildlife.

10. The search for a mystery zoo hero

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Abandoned by its parents, a penguin egg sat unprotected on a ledge in the zoo’s exhibit, easy pickings for a passing gull or crow. But thanks to the quick wits of a little boy visiting the zoo that April day, the abandoned egg was rescued by a zookeeper and turned over to penguin foster parents that successfully hatched the egg days later. We wanted to thank the boy by naming the chick after him, but he disappeared before we could get his name, and despite an all-points bulletin with our local community and news outlets, we never found him. Still, we did honor the mystery boy’s actions by naming the chick Ramón, a Spanish name that means “protector.”

9. Three little pigs

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

We went hog wild this year and brought three pig species to the zoo. Endangered Visayan warty pigs joined the Elephant Forest exhibit, warthogs moved next door to lions in the African Savanna, and domestic kunekune pigs stole the spotlight at the Family Farm.

8. Butterflies have their day

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

One of the smallest threatened species we work with had some of the biggest news this year. Oregon silverspot butterflies got their own conservation beer from Pelican Pub & Brewery, the head starting program to raise and release these butterflies into Northwest habitats won a national conservation award, and research is underway by a teen Zoo Corps intern to understand the egg laying behaviors of these butterflies so we can better protect them.

7. Enrichment gets playful

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

We had a lot of fun with enrichment this year, coming up with special activities for the animals that kickstart their instinctsfrom a Pike Place Fish Market-assisted fish toss to the grizzlies, to a Sounders-inspired session with soccer balls for the fast-footed animals like the wolves and scarves for the innate object manipulators like the gorillas. 

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Zoo Crew middle schoolers get in on making enrichment for the animals, elephants used their trunks to toss and tug at boat fenders, and penguins got their paint on to help raise funds for the Puget Sound - American Association of Zoo Keepers auction.

6. 20 million views and counting

Video: 20 million moments of cuteness at Woodland Park Zoo.

You made us the most watched zoo in the world, helping us reach 20 million video views on YouTube in 2012!

5. Drink coffee, save a tree kangaroo

Video: Coffee from Papua New Guinea comes to Seattle.

Seattle got its first taste ever of coffee from a remote part of Papua New Guinea—the Yopno Uruwa Som region of the Huon Peninsula—home to the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo, the little known animal that inspired a delicious,new conservation coffee.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and Seattle’s Caffe Vita teamed up to make limited edition, Papua New Guinea Yopno Uruwa Som Farm Direct coffee—grown in shade and without the use of pesticides—available this year.When you drink this coffee, you not only take an action that helps support wildlife conservation, but you also directly improve the lives of the Papua New Guinea coffee farmers and their families.

4. WildLights debuts

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo shined in a whole new light with the debut of our first-ever evening lights festival this winter, WildLights presented by KeyBank. We took you behind the scenes to see how the lights came together, and celebrated your tradition-in-the-making experiences at the after-dark showcase of lights, live reindeer, ice-carving, snow fights and more. 

3. Snow leopard cubs overcome challenges

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

We celebrated the birth of triplet snow leopards this year, but the loss of one cub and the health challenges of the surviving sisters gripped our hearts as the well wishes poured in from the community. Our skilled zookeepers, veterinary staff and volunteer veterinary experts dedicated themselves to helping the surviving cubs overcome their vision-related challenges, and the two, now seven months old, are doing well out on exhibit, growing, playing and exploring as any cubs should.

2. Give Ten for Tigers a huge success

Rendering of tiger exhibit by Mir, courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo.

This May we asked for your help to raise $100,000 so we could start construction on the first phase of a new Asian tropical forest exhibit complex for tigers, sloth bears, otters and tropical birds. You heard the call and, boy, did you respond! You all came together to make your gifts, tell your friends, and share our story across the community, bringing in $140,000+ in just a few weeks, well before our Give Ten for Tigers deadline! 

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Thanks to your generosity, we were able to break ground on construction for Phase One, which will feature otters, tropical birds and a play area for kids, and with your continued support, we’ll be able to complete fundraising for the entire complex and open the tiger and sloth bear exhibits soon. Learn more about the projects and how you can continue your support at www.morewonder.org.

1. First birth of lion cubs in 20 years!

Video: Lion cubs take a lickin' at Woodland Park Zoo Seattle.

November brought four kitties to the zoo—two male and two female lion cubs born to mom Adia and father Hubert.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The cubs live in an off view maternity den with their mother for now, while they bond and grow in safety and quiet. Until they are big enough to make their public debut, we have all been enjoying these behind-the-scenes glimpses.

What were your 2012 highlights?

Friday, December 28, 2012

A holiday gift: sloth bear birth

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

We’re capping off the year with yet another significant birth: an endangered sloth bear. Born Dec. 18, the tiny cub is off view with its mom, 7-year-old Tasha, in a behind-the-scenes maternity den. Dad, 16-year-old Randy, is staying in his own den right now, giving mom and cub their space to bond, which is a typical family structure for sloth bears.

This screen capture from the internal web cam was taken just moments after the birth of the cub. The tiny size is normal, with an average birth weight for sloth bears at 10.5-17.5 ounces (300-500 g). Photo by Woodland Park Zoo.

To minimize any disturbance to the family, zookeepers are keeping their distance, monitoring the new family via an internal web cam to keep their eye on things and make sure the cub continues to nurse and bond with mom.

This is Tasha’s first cub, but her motherly instincts kicked in immediately. Right after the birth, she built two large mounds of hay in the maternity den to support the new cub. With the web cam set up, we are able to see the two bonding and can hear the cub vocalizing and nursing normally.

Sloth bears are bears, but not sloths. Why the funny name? They were initially classified as bear sloths due to their perceived slow gait and ability to climb trees. Not until 1810 did the classification change; for the sake of simplicity, the name was switched to sloth bear. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sloth bears are born extremely small and blind at birth. They open their eyes at about 3 weeks old and can walk at 4 weeks. Unlike other bear species, sloth bear mothers carry cubs on their back when cubs reach about 2 months.

With fewer than 50 sloth bears in North American zoos today and fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild, we are thrilled to welcome this rare, new addition. This breeding was recommended under the sloth bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability among North American zoos.

A look at the new exhibit plans for the sloth bears at Woodland Park Zoo. Rendering by Mir, courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo.

Many of you have already joined us in helping to build the next amazing exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo—a new, Asian tropical forest-inspired home for sloth bears, tigers, tropical birds and small-clawed otters.

Sloth bear Randy shows off his powerful vacuum-style eating in this video. Produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The current sloth bear exhibit is off view to the public right now as construction is underway for these new exhibits. Upon completion of the exhibit complex, the zoo’s sloth bears will move into a new, state-of-the-art home with logs for grub-slurping, pits for breaking bones to get to yummy marrow, and mounds for digging. The $19.6 million exhibit project, part of the zoo’s $80 million MoreWonder More Wild Campaign, will replace the 60-year-old infrastructure that critically endangered tigers and sloth bears currently inhabit at the zoo.

You can learn more about the exhibit project and how you can help make it happen at www.morewonder.org.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy holidays!

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season, from your friends at Woodland Park Zoo!


Want to share the zoo love? Send a zoo-themed holiday eCard to your friends and family this winter and save on paper.

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Snow leopards leaping

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Snow leopards can leap up to 30 feet. That’s great for pouncing on prey but it is also useful when making your way around the rocky terrain these Central Asian animals call home.

Photo by Dale Unruh/Woodland Park Zoo.

You need serious jumping skills to navigate your way across ravines and between cliffs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Mountain goat

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

During digestion, microorganisms in the stomach of a ruminant (cud chewer) produce heat.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

This helps keep mountain goats warm during the winter, and is probably the reason they rest on snow in their alpine habitat during the summer.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ZooCrew Part Two | Wolves: Fact vs. Fiction

Created by: ZooCrew High Point students Mishki, Julia, Giovani, Amman, Abiso and Jazmeiha

Note from the blog editor:

Our ZooCrew middle school program aims to give students a first-hand look at how fun and rewarding a career in science can be. This semester’s students got hands-on experience exploring several different science careers, from zookeeping to conservation education to science writing. 

A small group of students from our ZooCrew High Point program chose to spend their semester working on a video that educates viewers on facts and fictions about misunderstood wolves. The students researched the animals, came up with the video concept and script, and put their own voices into the story. Great work, ZooCrew!

ZooCrew: A day in the life of a wolf pup

Written by: ZooCrew Denny students—Cassie, Caitlin, Matea and Trevor

Note from the blog editor:
Our ZooCrew middle school program aims to give students a first-hand look at how fun and rewarding a career in science can be. This semester’s students got hands-on experience exploring several different science careers, from zookeeping to conservation education to science writing. 

A small group of students from our ZooCrew Denny program chose to spend their semester working on their science writing skills, and this blog post comes from an exercise they did in imagining themselves as wolf pups growing up in a pack. Congratulations to the ZooCrew students on a job well done! Here is their story:

Dear blog readers,

We are going to talk about a wolf pup’s life and what they have to go through in their life. So here we go.

Wolf pack at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Part one
We are the life structure of the pack. Our parents bring new life into the pack. The pack has to respect the rules of helping the rest of us grow up and become leaders one day. We will fight for our pack and so that other packs can’t invade us. We sat during the long boring lecture about how we need to start being responsible. My parents told us that one of us would have to train to become alpha....

We started training today, it started ok...
To be continued...

Wolves at play at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Part two
As we move into position I'm thinking this is my first hunt, my first deer. There are a lot of firsts being a cub, a lot of learning, but you get used to it. As we run across the woods it feels like I'm flying. Then we find the deer, dad runs after it, and we all follow. Part of the pack goes around the brush to the left to Cordero the deer, I go with my dad to the other side. We spot the deer grazing in a nearby field and as we sneak up on the unsuspecting deer, dad goes in for the kill. Oh, the spoils of the hunt. As we carry back the deer I think the first hunt was a success, now I wonder how deer tastes. I do hope it tastes good.

And that concludes our first blog post. Feel free to comment.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunbittern chick: elegance in the making

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

With its long neck, trilling whistle, and stunning feather display that looks like eyes peering through the night, the sunbittern is one of the most elegant birds to call Woodland Park Zoo home. So picture that elegance-to-be when you see how it all starts:

Top: Sunbittern chick at one day old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo. | Bottom: An adult sunbittern displays its eye-like feathers at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

This little sunbittern hatched on November 20, the first sunbittern hatchling at Woodland Park Zoo in close to 15 years.

At one day old, the chick is covered in fluffy down feathers not unlike the texture of the towel it sits on here. Adult feathers begin to grow in after 3 weeks. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sunbittern babies at zoos are fairly rare, with probably only around 10 new hatchings a year at best. The hatchings are carefully planned as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program across accredited zoos nationwide to ensure genetic diversity and population health.

Seen here at 9-days-old, the characteristic long legs of the sunbittern—a forest floor walker with a slow and deliberate gait—are already growing in. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

This chick is being hand reared by our dedicated keepers in a behind the scenes area at our Tropical Rain Forest exhibit to ensure its best chance for survival. The egg was artificially incubated to prevent any chance of it rolling out of the elevated nest the sunbitterns maintain. When it hatched, keepers stepped in to hand rear, starting out with 7 feedings a day every 2 hours. 

Weigh-in at one day old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

We regularly weigh the chick to keep track of its growth and make sure it is hitting all of its developmental benchmarks. At its latest weigh-in, it added up to about 3 ounces (90 grams). In the above photo, the chick is resting on a nesting structure with a craggy texture designed to make it easy for the bird to grip with its feet. And yes, it totally looks like a plate of worms. 

The sunbittern has large feet that spread the bird’s weight making it easier to walk on muddy rain forest terrain. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Seen here at 9 days old, the sunbittern’s characteristic long neck begins to distinguish itself. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

This chick will likely become part of the Species Survival Plan breeding program and will one day move out to be with a fitting mate that we’ll work on finding at another accredited zoo. The chick’s parents remain in the free-flight dome of our Tropical Rain Forest building where they are currently working on producing another egg or two.

Chick at 9 days old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The call of the sunbittern is one of the recognizable sounds in the rain forest exhibit. This little chick isn’t very vocal so far, though it does hiss a bit when it’s surprised. Instinctually it fans its wings forward to make it appear larger than it actually is, just like a displaying adult would. 

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

What a treasure to watch elegance in the making.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lion cubs get first health check-up

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

It’s a boy! And a girl! And a boy! And a girl!

Last week, our four lion cubs received their first health check-up and the exam revealed the quadruplets are healthy and that we have two males and two females on our hands.

Our team of veterinarians performed the exam, which included a weigh-in, fecal sampling and an overall assessment of their health. They’ll get the first of a series of vaccinations at the next exam coming up in a few weeks. The cubs turn four weeks old this Saturday.

Each cub weighs between 8 and 9 pounds, which is in the normal weight range for their age. Vets noted that the cubs had full, round bellies, meaning they’re nursing regularly. Adia continues to show excellent maternal skills, and she has herself some robust, healthy cubs.

Mom and cubs remain in an off-view maternity den that allows the family to bond in a quieter environment. The cubs will go out in the public exhibit when they are older and outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees. Until then, zoo-goers can watch recorded video of the cubs at a kiosk stationed at the lion exhibit or at Zoomazium. We’re also posting updated footage and images here and at www.zoo.org/lioncubs.

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New endangered turtle hatchlings

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

As a kid, the only turtles that really interested me lived in the dwellings of New York City, fought crime against the Foot Clan and exclaimed things like “Cowabunga!” Yep, I’m talking about these guys—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Since then, my expectation of turtles hasn’t changed. They should be fierce fighters, find strength in numbers and ultimately, play a role in helping the world. It’s just that now, they are fighting extinction instead of foot soldiers, gaining numbers through captive breeding and head starting programs through zoos and conservation partners, and the important role they play on the planet is more ecologically significant than crime-fighting significant.

More than 50 percent of the world’s known turtle species are facing extinction, making these reptiles one of the most endangered groups of animals on the planet. Turtle extinction is a global phenomenon, but with another successful turtle breeding season at the zoo we are helping to grow the populations of severely endangered species in our backyard. This month, we welcomed to the zoo new western pond turtle hatchlings, native to Washington state, and Egyptian tortoise hatchlings. (Cue the squeals!)

This Egyptian tortoise hatched two weeks ago. The Egyptian tortoise is the second smallest tortoise species in the world. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In partnership with local and international conservation leaders, including the Egyptian Tortoise Conservation Program and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the zoo’s successful captive breeding and head starting programs are increasing populations in our state as well as in our North American populations of captive species. These turtles are not giving up!

Since June, more than 100 western pond turtles have hatched at the zoo. Archive photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The Egyptian tortoise is among the top 40 tortoises and freshwater turtles at a very high risk of extinction. Native to northeast Africa and the Middle East, the second smallest tortoise species in the world is primarily threatened by habitat loss, introduced predators and the illegal pet trade. With increased research, public awareness and community engagement, the Egyptian Tortoise Conservation Program is working to prevent the species’ extinction. In the U.S., our zoo has produced more Egyptian tortoise hatchlings on average than any other zoo, producing more than 75 tortoises through our successful captive breeding program.

At two weeks old,  the Egyptian tortoises are just the size of a quarter! Photo from Woodland Park Zoo's Instagram. Follow @woodlandparkzoo.

Our western pond turtle hatchlings are part of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project. Remember our post in August on our release of hatchlings? In Washington state, the species is endangered and its population is rapidly declining. To give these animals a head start, Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo rear hatchlings each year until they are large enough to avoid predation in the wild. For 21 years, Woodland Park Zoo has led the recovery project and released nearly 1,500 turtles back into protected habitats.

Western pond turtle hatchling on the move. Archive photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Despite the challenges threatening turtle species, our new turtle hatchlings are yet another large stride for the zoo’s turtle conservation programs. Turtle power!

WildLights presented by KeyBank runs through Jan. 1. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Need a closer look at the reptiles? Visit the zoo’s Egyptian tortoises, western pond turtles, and other reptiles and amphibians day or night this winter. WildLights presented by KeyBank, the zoo’s sparkling, after-hours event, features reptiles and amphibians in the Day Exhibit. WildLights is open through January 1, 5:30-8:30 nightly and will be closed December 24-25. Tickets available now at www.zoo.org/wildlights.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preparing for the lion cubs' first vet exam

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Lion cubs at three weeks old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Lion momma Adia continues to do a great job behind the scenes caring for her four little cubs who turn three weeks old this Thursday. Adia is a conscientious groomer, which is a lot of work with four kitties on your hands (err, paws).

The cubs are two weeks old in this video. Video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Later this week we’ll attempt the first veterinary check-up on the cubs to get a better assessment of their overall health and growth progress.

Three weeks old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Keepers have been giving Adia the option to shift into her outdoor exhibit and away from the cubs for a few minutes a day, which helps to normalize the routine for her. That way when it is time for the vet check-up, Adia will be comfortable with shifting outside, allowing us brief access to the cubs for a lightning fast exam.

Cub pile! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The most famous (visiting) reindeer of all

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

There were Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous visiting reindeer of all?

Reindeer Lucky and Christi arrive at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Lucky and Christi, two female reindeer, are making a guest appearance at the zoo for all six weeks of WildLights presented by KeyBank, the zoo's all new winter lights festival, opening tonight, Nov. 23.

And with nine other famous reindeer on your minds this holiday season, it’s only appropriate to honor each of them with nine fascinating facts about these sleigh-pulling beauties.

1. Reindeer are also known as caribou in North America. Though, many use “reindeer” to describe domesticated caribou.

2. Different species of caribou live throughout subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. In the U.S., caribou inhabit the northern-most territories of the states and roam throughout all ten Canadian provinces. However, their populations are dwindling. Today, caribou are severely endangered in the Northwest.

3. It is the only deer species in which both the ladies and the gents grow antlers. Every year, reindeer shed their antlers and grow a new pair. The males shed in the winter, but the females won’t shed theirs until after they give birth in the spring.

4. Although reindeer can’t fly, they can run at speeds up to nearly 50 miles per hour! And they’re great swimmers, clocking in at 6 miles per hour.

5. Typically, reindeer are herbivores and will eat around 12 pounds of food a day. Unlike other deer, reindeer rely on lichens, or fungus, during the coldest months. Lichen withstands freezing temperatures and fuels reindeer with carbohydrates that will keep them trekking for miles on a full stomach.

6. Using their antlers, reindeer shovel through snow and chisel frozen ground to find food.

7. Reindeer live in herds. Most reindeer will travel among a group of two to five reindeer.

8. People have relied on reindeer for thousands of years. In some cultures, reindeer were fully domesticated and kept for milk and transportation.

9. The image of Santa’s sleigh being pulled by flying reindeer first appeared in American popular culture in the early 1800s.

Get your holiday dose of reindeer at WildLights, your only chance to visit Lucky and Christi at the zoo. You'll find them on WildLights nights in their barn located near the Historic Carousel.

Snap a photo of the reindeer, or other WildLights sights, using Instagram and tag @woodlandparkzoo and #wpzwildlights to be automatically entered to win a zoo prize package each week of WildLights! (Please make sure your Instagram account is set to public.) The Instagram contest runs through January 1. For contest rules and details, visit www.zoo.org/wildlights/instagram.

WildLights presented by KeyBank. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

WildLights presented by KeyBank officially opens to the public today, Nov. 23. Buy your tickets online in advance at www.zoo.org/wildlights. We hope you'll enjoy seeing the zoo in a whole new light!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Animal diets by the number

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Imagine the amount of food it takes to feed your family every week. The average American eats nearly 40 pounds of food a week. With two adults, maybe a teenager and a couple of kiddies gathered around the table, those appetites add up fast (especially now that Thanksgiving is here, and many of us double up on servings)!

Now, imagine the zoo preparing dinner for three lions, three elephants and two full-grown hippos. Those 40 pounds of food, even the extra Thanksgiving servings, start to sound more like an afternoon snack now, don’t they? Trust us when we say that animal cravings are far greater than any hungry teenager in your household.

At the zoo, our animals’ food comes through the commissary, which is more or less a grocery depot for the animals. Much like a neighborhood market might stock your family’s mealtime essentials, the commissary shelves each animal’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners based on the season’s freshest selection.

Produce, aisle seven. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Every week, a delivery of four six-foot pallets of produce makes its way to the commissary. Weighing down those pallets are 6,000 pounds of fruits and veggies! The biggest bulk of those pallets is romaine lettuce. In fact, we receive 40 cases of it weekly.

Meat, on the other hand, is ordered as needed. Over the course of two to three months, our large cats go through about 2,500 pounds of chicken, beef, turkey and bones. The lions are the biggest consumer of meat at 10 pounds per day!

Lions enjoy a chicken treat. Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Though, that’s nothing compared to a few of our herbivores. Our three elephants require the largest diets by far. Watoto, Chai and Bamboo are fed six pounds of grain, close to 10 pounds of fruits and vegetables, and 80-100 pounds of hay every day. That’s 116 pounds of food! Think of how much they require in a year’s time. For the elephants alone, the commissary orders 1,500 pounds of apples; 1,387 bananas; 152 cantaloupes; about 5,000 pounds of carrots; more than 7,000 pounds of elephant pellets; and nearly 131,400 pounds of hay every year!

Mmm, a pumpkin snack. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Much less in weight, but equally important, are the thousands of bugs ordered for our birds’ daily plates of worm spaghetti. Okay, it’s not actually spaghetti but mealworms, crickets and waxworms are a nutritious part of the tawny frogmouth’s diet. To put on their winter weight and prepare for the cold temperatures, tawny frogmouths eat nearly twice as much food during the winter. Hmm… sounds like my winter diet. Anyway, on top of a few bug salads, frogmouths also feast on two teenage mice throughout each day.

A tawny frogmouth adult and chick await their wormy feast. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Another fascinating bird diet is the diet of Coba, the spectacled owl. Raptors like Coba need just enough food to stay in flight for their journeys. In fact, their food intake motivates their activity levels. Coba dines on two to three mice a day to maintain his 735-765 gram frame. Though, he could still soar the skies for up to six days without eating anything at all!

Shouldn't have eaten that extra mouse. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Interested in being a part of mealtime at the zoo? Join the Penguin Feeding Experience, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (or while fish supply lasts) daily through April. Feeding the penguins requires a $5 fee per person, cash only at the exhibit or pay by credit card at the West Entrance. You'll get hand-to-beak close with the penguins as you feed them a fishy treat!

Technically a carnivore, but totally an om-nom-nomnivore. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.