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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The hatching of a ball of fluff

Posted by: Mark Myers, Curator of Birds

It's that great time of the year when many of the birds at Woodland Park Zoo begin to nest and raise chicks. By far the most unique species we breed is the tawny frogmouth. They look like owls, but they're actually relatives of nightjars (nighthawks, whip-poor-wills, etc.). This primarily nocturnal species is native to Australia, and the zoo has two pairs in an off-exhibit area for breeding purposes.

Tawny frogmouth chick at four days old.

The ball of fluff in this photo is the fourth chick produced by a pair we received from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia in 2009. It hatched on May 17, and the parents are raising it on a diet of insects and small mice. When hatched, it weighed 0.6 ounces (17.5 grams). The small, white dot towards the upper tip of the bill is the egg tooth. This is what the chick uses to break the shell as it is hatching. The egg tooth will eventually fall off as the chick ages.

The frogmouth chick receives a little supplemental snack from its zookeeper during a daily check-up. The chick was quickly returned to its parents, who are doing an excellent job caring for it.

The chick’s white, downy feathers will be replaced with mottled, grayish feathers that make frogmouths look like a dead branch when they are perched. This camouflage makes them very difficult to see in the wild and serves to protect them from predators.

Our tawny frogmouth chick might not be the only fluff ball hatching this season. We have two more fertile frogmouth eggs being incubated by our second pair. This photo shows one of the eggs being candled. When we candle an egg, it simply means that we hold it up to a high powered, focused light source for a few seconds to see if the egg is fertile or to check the health of a developing embryo. This frogmouth egg proved to be fertile—you can see the veins developing around the interior of the shell. These veins deliver nutrients (from the yolk) and oxygen (entering into the egg from the outside air) to the developing embryo. We expect this egg will hatch in another week or so.

There are only 114 tawny frogmouths in U.S. zoos, and Woodland Park Zoo oversees the program which ensures the genetic and demographic health of the population. This program will ensure that we have frogmouths in our zoos for many years to come.

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Snow leopard cubs show their spots

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

A snow leopard’s spots are a thing of beauty, and in this case, that beauty is skin-deep.

That's because the pigmented spots go beyond the furry surface and are actually part of the snow leopard's skin itself.

You can see it here in this shaved patch on one of our snow leopard cubs. The cubs each had a tiny patch shaved during their first health exam to help zookeepers tell them apart on the internal web cam we use to monitor mom and cubs. Notice how the rosette on the shaved patch continues from fur to skin.

Snow leopard spots aren’t just for looking pretty. They provide critical camouflage for these hunters, allowing them to blend into their rocky environment as they stalk prey. However, that camouflage and slinky elusiveness also make them difficult to study in the wild!

That’s why our conservation partners at the Snow Leopard Trust use hidden cameras that are motion-activated to snap photos of wild snow leopards and track their otherwise hard-to-spot patterns and behaviors. Our very own snow leopards at Woodland Park Zoo have helped to test the technology, allowing field researchers to perfect their methodologies before heading out to the wilds of Central Asia.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo. Video by Snow Leopard Trust. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Give Ten for Tigers: You did it!

Posted by: Team Tiger

You’ve shown your stripes and caused an uproar for tigers through our Give Ten for Tigers campaign. Thanks to you, we’ve gone over goal and raised an incredible $115,000 well before the deadline and we got the $100,000 match!!!

We now have enough to start construction on the first phase of the incredible new tropical forest exhibit for tigers, sloth bears and otters!

We can’t thank you enough for giving to the cause and spreading the word to your friends. Every dollar and every share helped get us here. YOU got us to this first critical milestone!

Construction on this first phase, which includes the home of the new Asian small-clawed otters, will begin the day after Labor Day and open May 2013. In the meantime, everything that’s come in over the $100,000 goal, and every dollar raised from now on, will help build the second and final phase of the new home for our tigers and sloth bears, which will open in 2014.

Thanks so much for giving ten for tigers!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Woodland Park Zoo gets even greener today

Posted by: Paul Balle, Development Officer

I was very excited the day that Forterra, formerly Cascade Land Conservancy, invited Woodland Park Zoo to become a founding partner in their new Carbon Capturing Companies (C3) program. That partnership was announced today at Forterra’s annual breakfast.

As a zoo employee and member of our Green Team, an active conservationist, and someone who’s been heavily involved with our WPZ Sustainability Plan and calculating the zoo’s annual carbon footprint, C3 seemed a natural way to partner with 14 businesses and organizations—INCLUDING a famous rock band (Pearl Jam!)—to help make our region greener while offsetting our annual carbon emissions by planting trees in our region.

In a nutshell, here’s how C3 works: 

Companies and organizations who want to reduce their carbon footprint—and its effects on our region—are encouraged to participate by joining the C3 program.

What’s the carbon cost of doing business? Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
After joining, the organization calculates their annual carbon emissions, using any one of a number of carbon calculators on the web today. Primarily, the zoo uses the Seattle Climate Partnership calculator (we’ve been a member of SCP since 2006) and occasionally other online calculators.

Zoomazium’s green roof is one of many sustainable efforts around the zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The company or organization then works to reduce energy use/carbon emissions in the areas of their business that they can affect. For example, the zoo is involved in a number of reduction strategies per our Sustainability Plan to help reduce our footprint. For starters, we now build more sustainable exhibits like the LEED Gold certified Zoomazium, and the penguin exhibit that biofilters its own water to reduce waste. We have also installed solar panels to run our carousel to reduce our electrical use, and we compost and recycle extensively.

A penguin swims in clear water made possible by green technologies. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Then, when the organization or company has reduced their footprint as much as they can, the remainder (or a portion of the remainder) can be “offset” by purchasing offsets that will balance out the carbon that can’t be reduced. The zoo decided to offset the emissions from the use of natural gas for heating our Tropical Rain Forest exhibit and for emissions from a holiday event coming up later this year.

Mist shrouds the zoo’s Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
The offset purchase price then goes towards purchasing young conifer trees (Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock) that will be planted in our region—in parks, urban spaces and natural areas. By their 100th birthday, each of these trees will have absorbed up to 14 tons of carbon, which makes it an efficient means of carbon offset.
Members of C3 can even volunteer to help plant these trees—creating a great volunteer outing where employees can get their hands dirty and feel good that they are helping their employer reduce their impact on the planet!

A western pond turtle hatchling. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
In addition to participating in C3, and working at reducing our footprint in accordance with the zoo’s Sustainability plan, we are also actively involved in many conservation programs that help save species and protect habitat around the world and right in our backyard, the Pacific Northwest—from western pond turtles, to grizzly bears to silverspot butterflies. We believe our involvement in these approaches makes for a winning combination!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baby, baby, baby!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We have three little secrets to share:

Triplet snow leopards were born on May 2! The precious cubs, born to 7-year-old mother Helen and 6-year-old father Tom, have been tucked away under mom’s close care in a behind-the-scenes den.

Today marked the first day our keepers and vets were able to access the cubs for a quick health exam—which means it was also the very first opportunity we had to take photos.

At 2-weeks-old, the cubs are a healthy weight, ranging between 2.1 and 2.4 pounds. 

We were able to determine that we’ve got two females and one male on our hands. Snow leopard cubs are born with their eyes closed, and our little trio is just starting to open their eyes.

After the brief exam, the cubs were quickly returned to mom who is taking excellent care of them.
This is her second litter of cubs, and that maternal experience is paying off. She’s nurturing the three cubs very well and they’re healthy and hearty because of it. Good job, Helen!

The little cubsters will remain cuddling with mom behind the scenes in a quiet, secluded maternal den to allow them time to bond and nurse comfortably. To minimize disturbance, keepers have minimal physical contact with the new family and they monitor mom and cubs via an internal web cam.

Once the cubs are big and strong enough, we expect to have them venturing outdoors into their exhibit around mid-July. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing dad Tom out on exhibit. Since snow leopards are solitary animals in the wild, it’s natural for Tom to be on his own while mom is with cubs.

Don’t hold back your squees—these cubs are absolutely adorable. But they are more than just cute. They are ambassadors for an endangered species that scientists estimate numbers as few as 3,500 in the wild.

Woodland Park Zoo has a long history of caring for snow leopards and conserving them in the wild, since the zoo’s first snow leopards arrived in 1972 from the USSR. Under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, more than two dozen cubs have been born at the zoo and sent to zoos worldwide to help diversify the genetic pool of the managed population. By virtue of their majestic beauty, these cubs become conservation ambassadors that inspire people to learn more about how to save this endangered cat that is struggling to survive.

Our work with snow leopards continues into the wild with our partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust, created in 1981 by the late woodland Park Zoo staff member Helen Freeman, the namesake of the mother of the newborn cubs. Through innovative programs, effective partnerships, and the latest science, Snow Leopard Trust is saving these endangered cats and improving the lives of people who live in the snow leopard countries of Central Asia.

We’ll be posting updates on the cubs while they remain behind the scenes and will let you know when they are ready to debut on exhibit. Exciting times!

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Training tigers behind the scenes

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Keepers train our tigers and sloth bears behind the scenes to get them to cooperate with their daily care. But in our new exhibits, we’re bringing the behind the scenes front and center with special training areas in the exhibit.

You’ll get to watch keepers interact with the animals up close as they train right in front of you! Training is an essential part of providing excellent care for these intelligent, powerful animals. It's a lot easier to give medicine to or examine a body part of a massive tiger when it is cooperating!

When you Give Ten for Tigers, you help us bring this and other cool features to the zoo! Thank you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

No ordinary rocks

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We reveal a secret of zoo exhibit design in this latest video. 
Help us make our design plans for a new exhibit for tigers and sloth bears a reality through our Give Ten for Tigers campaign. We're 25% to our fundraising goal and we're hoping to raise another $75,000 before May 25 in order to raise enough funds to begin on construction for Phase One of this major new exhibit project.
We've been asking you to give, but we're also prepared to give back. Anyone who makes a gift is automatically entered into our Give Ten, Win Ten giveaway for a chance to win a prize pack of 10 zoo admission passes and a tiger ZooParent adoption. You can also enter to win here
Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Whose claws?

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Can you guess which zoo animal these claws belong to? 

We'll give you time to think.
Did you get it? 
Got it? It's the sloth bear!

Those sharp, 3-inch-long claws belong to the sloth bear and they are used to dig out insect mounds. After digging, sloth bears blow away the dirt with their long, mobile lips and with a huge breath, suck up the termites like a high-powered vacuum.

You’ll see these adaptations up close when we transform our sloth bears’ and tigers’ 60-year-old exhibits into state-of-the-art, naturalistic homes coming in 2014. 

Help us get started on the transformation: Give Ten for Tigers today at http://bit.ly/GiveTen


(Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wallaby joey growing up

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Can you spot the joey?

Our red-necked wallaby baby is spending more time poking out of its mother's pouch, even when mom is hopping all around the exhibit like in the photo above.

The infant wallaby, known as a joey in the marsupial world, still spends much of its time curled up in 3-year-old mom Kiley's pouch. As the summer progresses, it'll begin venturing out more and more, returning to mom for feedings.

This is the first wallaby joey at Woodland Park Zoo, part of our Species Survival Plan (SSP) efforts in conjunction with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, conservation and genetics, AZA-accredited institutions manage each species as one population in North America to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the population and the health of individual animals. SSPs also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.

Have you seen our joey out and about yet? Please share your photo links with us in the comments or on our Facebook timeline. Thanks!

Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Today only: GiveBIG is here

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Stretch with us!

Archive image of Hadiah, the last Sumatran tiger cub born at Woodland Park Zoo, seen here in 2006 at 16 days old. We'll have a breeding pair of Malayan tigers in our new exhibit, which means we may have more cubs in the near future! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

It’s GiveBIG day in King County, which means your $10 gift to our Give Ten for Tigers campaign will get stretched by the partial matching funds from the Seattle Foundation today only when you make your gift at this link. 
Even if you can’t make a gift, click the share buttons to spread this to your friends and help us get the word out across the community. Together, we’ll create an awesome new exhibit for tigers and sloth bears at the zoo. 
Remember, GiveBIG is today only. Any gift you make through GiveBIG will go directly to our Give Ten for Tigers campaign. Tomorrow we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming of Give Ten for Tigers--a month full of insider info on our exhibit development and a chance for you to get involved by telling your friends and helping us raise critical funds. 
Thank you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Let's build tigers a new home

Are you tired of our worn-out, 60-year-old tiger and sloth bear exhibits? So are we! That's why we're embarking on the biggest extreme makeover here at the zoo since the 1990s to build a new, state-of-the-art, 2-acre exhibit complex for Malayan tigers, sloth bears, small-clawed otters, tropical birds and so much more!

Future plans for Woodland Park Zoo's all new, naturalistic tiger exhibit complex.

If you love animals, you'll love the new experience we're designing. You should see the plans! The exhibit complex will also play a crucial role in inspiring people to help save wild tigers whose future is in serious jeopardy.

Malayan tiger. Photo by Melinda Arnold/Dickerson Park Zoo.

But we can't build it without you. Literally. If you've ever done any remodeling you know it's expensive. And we only have until May 25 to raise enough money to start construction on Phase One of the exhibit complex (which will include an exhibit of adorable small-clawed otters and a play space for children)!

Here's how you can help:

1.       Give $10 for tigers. It’s that easy. Then just. . .

2.       Tell 10 friends. We need your help to spread the word. Please click here and using the built-in sharing tools, share this opportunity with your friends and ask them to join you in helping tigers by starting at Step 1. Or use the share buttons on this blog to spread the word far and wide!

Your gift is needed urgently! We have $200,000 left to raise to hire contractors and start construction on Phase One of this massive effort. A local family has pledged $100,000 toward that if we raise the other $100,000 by midnight on Friday, May 25. Many have already given, so please join us and make your gift right now!

And yes, your $10 will make a difference. Every dollar counts!

Even more to come on Give Ten for Tigers:
We'll run a series of exciting exhibit updates and give you an inside look at how our plans are coming along throughout the month of May as part of our Give Ten for Tigers effort. Anytime you learn something that inspires you, please share it with your friends and we'll get the word out about this important effort across the community and beyond.

Sloth bears will get a new home with your help. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Our endangered tigers and sloth bears really need a new home. Together we'll build an incredible, innovative new exhibit complex and help save endangered tigers in the wild.

Plus, everyone who gives will be listed on the tiger-shaped list of donors that we'll put up on zoo grounds to show our appreciation!

Learn more about this innovative project and how the zoo you love is helping save wild tigers (and how you can too). Plus, find out how you can get your name in our exhibit and even start your own fundraising campaign

Thanks for giving ten for tigers! Together, we can make this happen.