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Showing posts from February, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Happy Leap Day!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications




Happy Leap Day to you on this Wonderfully Wild Wednesday!


A clucking frog? During the breeding season, the Oregon spotted frog’s call is a series of clucking noises. We’re doing our part to keep them clucking. At Woodland Park Zoo, we raise Oregon spotted frogs until they are large enough to survive on their own, then release them into protected wetlands here in Washington.

The Leap Day celebration continues at the zoo today and Sat., March 3. We’re celebrating amphibian conservation success stories through frog-themed crafts, keeper chats on frogs and amphibians, puppet shows and interactive activities. Hear from national experts, including our curator of herpetology, Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, about what is being done to save amphibians. Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society members also will be on hand to discuss frogs and other amphibians.

On March 3, kids ages 3-12 dressed in green or other frog-themed gear will receive free zoo admission wit…

Frogs get a helping hand from citizen scientists

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications




Cold rain showers or accumulated snow in the suburban highlands didn’t deter 40 volunteers from trekking to Carkeek Park on Saturday for a training session on identifying eggs laid by local amphibian species.


Outfitted in knee-high boots or hip waders, the volunteers carefully treaded in Carkeek’s ponds under the guidance of biologists and naturalists from Woodland Park Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Seattle Parks and Recreation. The industrious scene was a practice session for a new amphibian program that teams ““citizen scientists” with Woodland Park Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park to survey amphibian egg masses in ponds and wetlands in western Washington. Hand-held GPS units, digital cameras, field identification guides and, for some, polarized sunglasses, were the tools of the day. The special sunglasses help reduce any blinding glare on…

Childhood wishes become grown-up realities

Posted by: Jennifer Larsen, Tourism Marketing



Did you ever visit a place when you were a child and think to yourself, “I want to work here when I’m big!” I think for many of us growing up in the Seattle area, that place was Woodland Park Zoo. In March of last year, that kid-sized dream became a reality when I became the zoo’s new Tourism Marketing Coordinator. What does that mean? It means that I am tasked with getting more Seattle visitors to come to the zoo. Bottom line, it’s up to me to let everyone who is visiting Seattle know how great Woodland Park Zoo is, and that it is a must see on their list of things to do here.


A lot of what I talk about with visitors associations, hotel concierges, convention services and group operators comes from observing our exhibits, talking with keepers and other staff members about their experiences here at the zoo and also reading up on the history of this area and the zoo itself. Finding out, for example, that our dwarf crocodiles in the Day Ex…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Gulp!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



From observing pond turtles foraging, biologists have found that western pond turtles swallow all their food in water and appear unable to swallow food in air!




















Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Drink up! Conservation coffee is here

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



Seattle is about to taste the first ever coffee made available in the U.S. 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 this whole effort.



So how did we get from ‘roo to brew? 

To protect an endangered species like the tree kangaroo, you need to protect its habitat.



Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program helped make that possible in 2009 when we worked with Papua New Guinea villagers in the remote HuonPeninsula to protect 180,000 acres of their land in the nation’s first Conservation Area.

But to make sure that land stays protected not just in name but in action, we had to make it possible for these villagers to find an ecofriendly, alternative income source that would give them the money they need to send their children to school while protecting their land from destructive activities like logging and m…

Bowling for Rhinos

Posted by: Matt Mills, Zookeeper



Did you know that rhinos used to roam wild in the United States? There were even water rhinos that would swim in the lakes of central Washington! Six million years ago, during the Miocene, there were over 50 species of rhinoceros around the world! Today, five species are still alive, but their numbers are dwindling and they will only continue to exist if we act quickly.

Have you ever thought about what you could do to help?


The zookeepers and staff of Woodland Park Zoo care about rhinos. The Puget Sound chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK) is having a bowling party and fundraiser for these special animals at Spin Alley in Shoreline on May 10, and you are invited to join us! AAZK began Bowling for Rhinos in 1991 as a way for chapters to raise funds for conservation and increase awareness of current rhino populations’ challenges. In the last 21 years, more than $4 million has been raised nationally, 100% of which has gone directly to …

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Ostrich legs

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



Baby, we were born to ruuuuuuuuun.


The ostrich may be flightless but with thick, powerful legs (seen in full glory here as the ostrich displays), it’s built for running over great distances with ease and getting up to speeds of 40+ miles per hour.

Photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ

Well I’m hot blooded, check it and see…

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications




“I got a fever of a hundred and three, come on baby…” We’ve all heard the term “hot blooded” in reference to unabashed lust, but this Valentine’s Day we are cooling things off with a little biology recap. Sorry, all you stud-muffins and flirtatious foxes, but using the term “hot blooded” is actually pretty uncool in the zoological community.
In the recent past, hot blooded (or warm blooded) and cold blooded were ways to describe an animal’s thermoregulation. Within the last 30 years, studies in the field of animal thermophysiology have revealed just how wild temperature control is between each species, and it’s pretty sexy stuff!

There are three types of thermal stability in animals:
Homeothermy: when an organism maintains a relatively constant body temperature. This temperature is usually higher than the average warmth of the subject’s environment. Most birds and mammals—which includes us humans—are homeotherms, and maintain thermal homeostasi…

Komodo dragon turns 18

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



2012 is the Year of the Dragon, and Tuesday was the day of the Komodo dragon.


That’s because the zoo’s male Komodo dragon, Loki, turned 18 on Tuesday and the keepers celebrated dragon-style: with “cake” made out of ground meat topped with a mouse.


Loki gulped down his treat with lightning speed as visitors gathered at the exhibit to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. The song lasted longer than the cake!


While we often mark our 18th birthday as the milestone between childhood and adulthood, for Komodo dragons, turning 18 means you’re well past middle aged. It’s not known just how long the average Komodo dragon life span is in the wild, but in captivity, Komodo dragons have been known to live up to 25 years.


By weight, Komodos are the world’s largest lizard. They don’t get to be that size just by snacking on birthday cake. In the wild, Komodos are known for their hunting prowess, taking down prey as big as Sunda deer, pigs, water buffalos and w…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Love darts

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a good time to meet the hermaphroditic Partula snail.


Prior to copulating, Partula shoot “love darts”—tiny bits of calcium-based material—like daggers into their partner. No one knows exactly why. Some think that this is the origin of Cupid with his arrows. 
Now there's a fun fact you can use to romance your Valentine.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The official hippo weigh-in

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


The results are in to cap our two-week, online contest to guess the combined weight of Woodland Park Zoo’s two hippos. Today’s weigh-in of 12-year-old Guadalupe and 33-year-old Water Lily revealed the giant pachyderms’ collective weight: 6,279 pounds with Lupe weighing in at 3,285 pounds and Lily at 2,994 pounds!

More than 2,800 people entered our statewide hippo weigh-in contest, trying to win a behind-the-scenes experience with our hippos and other prizes. The guesses ranged everywhere from 150 pounds to 6,000,000,000 pounds, but only two entrants came within one pound of the final combined weight, and by random draw, 42-year-old Alane Michels of Sprague, WA was named the winner! Alane was all smiles when we called her this morning to tell her she won, telling us "This is a dream come true! I grew up coming to Woodland Park Zoo and am such an animal nut. I can’t believe it!”

The hippos were officially weighed in this morning for the pr…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Lemur cackle

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



Ever hear cackling in the Tropical Rain Forest exhibit?


Many visitors do not realize that intense sound is coming from our red ruffed lemurs. Red ruffed lemurs communicate to each other with a complex system of at least 12 different vocalizations that include low grunts, gurgling sounds and that cackle-like roar.

Photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ