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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boat bumpers for the elephants

Posted by: Pattie Beaven, Elephant Keeper

Chai playfully balances a boat bumper on her head. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Our elephants have a number of toys, or, in zoo-speak, Environmental Enrichment Devices (EED) that are designed to bring out their instinctual behaviors, along with all the naturally enriching elements in their exhibit like trees, logs, leaf piles, water and different ground coverings. The elephants have quite an array of EEDs, and one of their favorites is a boomer ball, which we often fill with treats. But constantly purchasing more boomer balls (since the elephants can be a bit destructive with them) can be a little costly. So, what’s a zookeeper to do? We think outside the box, er, ball.

With a background working with marine mammals, I thought back to my days of playing with dolphins. We would throw boat bumpers and buoys in with the 800-pound critters, and play endless games with them. So, how would an 8,000-pound animal react to one?

Chai carries the bumper around with her trunk. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

To get my answer I ventured to West Marine to see if we could acquire a couple of boat bumpers to test out on these playful pachyderms. Lo and behold, I discovered that not only did the manager have a couple to spare, but that in the summertime, they often receive dozens each week. Finding a new and revitalized way to keep them out of the landfill was refreshing to him, and getting free toys for the animals at the zoo was exhilarating for me!

Back at the barn, we brainstormed all the different ways we could use these new EEDs. Hang them, put them in barrels, give them to the elephants—the possibilities were endless. Some we drilled holes in so we could fill with treats. Looping rope through them, we can hang them almost anywhere, and also change the locations where we hang them. This was incredibly exciting for us and we hoped the elephants—Asian elephants Bamboo and Chai, and African elephant Watoto—would love them too!

Chai gives a pull on a tied up boat bumper. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The first elephant we wanted to test the boat bumpers on was Bamboo. She’s the oldest, and probably the most mischievous. She’s very good at figuring things out, and she’s our best product tester, because if any of our girls is going to figure out how to destroy something, dismantle something, or break something, it’s going to be Bamboo. We hung a boat bumper up in the barn, and put another in an EED container to protect it from getting squished too soon. It didn’t take Bamboo long to figure out where the hole was located so she could get the treats out. It took a little encouragement from us for Bamboo to notice the hanging bumper, but once she realized it, too, held treats, it was game on, and she batted it non-stop until she was certain every morsel was out.

Chai reaches for what she’s probably hoping is a bumper full of treats. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Next in line was Chai. Chai was so intrigued by the texture of the boat bumpers, she pulled the boat bumper out of the device so she could rub her mouth and trunk all over it. With this knowledge, we started hanging the bumpers lower, and Chai would drain the bumpers of their treats but then continue to rub them through her trunk and along her jaw. A little hesitant on my end, I finally caved and gave Chai the whole boat bumper, without a hole drilled, and no treats inside. I was certain Chai wouldn’t want anything to do with it, but was I wrong. She stepped on it, and tried to pop it in her mouth, and then started tossing it in the air. And then she started playing with me, handing me the bumper with her trunk and darting after it when I threw it back. I don’t know exactly what is going through her head, but I’ve started to refer to the bumpers as her “woobie”. They are definitely a favorite of hers and watching her play with them is enjoyable for everyone!

Chai gives the boat bumper a toss while Watoto looks on. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Stomp. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

However much Chai loves her boat bumpers, though, it seems Watoto is convinced they are out to get her, and she must assert her dominance over the new toy. When we first hung the boat bumpers for Watoto to have access, she tusked them over and over. Only when treats dropped out onto the floor did she stop suddenly as if to say “Oh, treats!” When she sees a boat bumper hanging in the corner when she enters the barn, her ears go out, her head goes up, and her pace quickens. But, these boat bumpers aren’t her worst enemy; she may assert her dominance over them, but in my two years working with these girls, I have never seen Watoto as playful with an object as she is with the boat bumpers.

Watoto shows the boat bumper who is boss. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

So, the boat bumpers have given a new life to our enrichment program here at the Elephant Barn. They keep the elephants mentally stimulated, but they have done more than we ever imagined. The elephants pull and toss them like they would do to logs and branches in their natural environment. The bumpers are mobile so we can use them anywhere, and they are adaptable, so we can use them often. Most commonly, we use them at night to encourage these natural behaviors even when we are not around. And it encourages playful behavior in older animals. These successes have drawn other animal areas around the zoo to consider using them as toys and puzzle devices for other species.

Watoto carries the bumper around the exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Next time you visit the zoo, keep your eye out for enrichment items hidden and scattered for the animals throughout all our exhibits, and see what kinds of fascinating behaviors they bring out in the animals.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Meerkat kickstand

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

How is a meerkat like a bike?

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A meerkat uses its long, stiff tail like a kickstand in order to balance when it stands upright.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There and back again

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo (modified)

Our 8-month-old wallaby joey, Dargo, now fully leaves his mother’s pouch to explore around his Australasia exhibit, which he shares with other wallabies, wallaroos and emu. That’s right on cue, as this is around the age that wallaby joeys start to be weaned and gain complete independence.

Photo set by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

As you can see from this great set of photos of Dargo ducking in and out of his mom’s pouch (taken last month), that independence means a significant break for mom Kiley, who has pulled triple duty as shelter, blanket and cafeteria for all these months!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Family Farm gets kunekune pigs

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Finally, the trifecta! Kunekune pigs have arrived at the Family Farm. And that means I can finally say that this is the summer of three little pigs!

Three little pigs, from left to right: African warthog now on view in the African Savanna (photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ), Visayan warty pig now on view in Elephant Forest (photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ), kunekune pig now on view in Family Farm (photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ)
Unlike the two wild pig species that debuted at the zoo this May—the Visayan warty pig and African warthog—the kunekune is a domestic species, albeit a rare one, native to New Zealand.

Let me guess: you’re wondering how to pronounce kunekune. Try this: “KOO-KNEE, KOO-KNEE.” The word kunekune means “fat and round” in the Māori language, which isn’t a stretch when you see these little guys.

You’ll have no trouble spotting the pigs, whose mottled spots and constant snorting draw plenty of attention in the farm. The two pigs are 5-month-old brothers, Baxter and Barkley—they’ll turn 6 months old on July 3.

Kunekunes are recognizable by their signature short snouts. Their snouts are so short, they practically dip their whole faces in water just to slurp up a drink. They also can have wattles hanging from either side of their throat, fleshy protuberances like those we see on domestic goats.

 What’s a typical day in the life of a kunekune pig?


Root around in the dirt.

Graze for a snack.

Make a snorting noise.

Get a good belly scratch from the zookeeper before cuddling up for another nap.

But don’t let all that lazing around fool you—these are smart pigs. Couple their intelligence with the interest and affection they show towards their zookeepers, and we have a promising sign that these pigs will be very receptive to training. Training animals helps us keep them mentally stimulated and healthy, allowing us to move and handle them more easily and safely, even when they need a checkup from our veterinarian.

The pigs are calling—come on down and check out the kunekunes, Visayan warty pigs and African warthogs!

All kunekune photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Giraffe feeding

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

A giraffe's tongue is over 18 inches long and dark in color, most likely to prevent it from being sunburned as it strips leaves out in the savanna sun.

You can see these adaptations up close when you participate in one of our unforgettable Giraffe Feeding Experiences!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Monday, June 18, 2012

News from the field: Jaguar mates spotted

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Field Conservation; with Carmina Gutiérrez and Miguel Gómez Ramírez, Northern Jaguar Project

Exciting news about the northernmost wild jaguar population has come in from the field. Woodland Park Zoo-supported jaguar conservation biologists report in that they have seen signs that these threatened cats are pairing up, which means they could be mating and there could be cubs in the near future—a sign of hope for this threatened species.
Male and female jaguars, Ferb and Libélula, spotted together via a remote camera. Video courtesy Northern Jaguar Project

A little background on Woodland Park Zoo's jaguar conservation efforts: Thanks to a generous bequest, the Field Conservation department has been able to fund jaguar conservation projects for the past 10 years at the rate of $10,000 a year. This year, one of the recipients was the Northern Jaguar Project, based in Arizona but working with ranchers in the area near Sonora, Mexico—just 125 miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border. There, an estimated 80 to 120 jaguars remain in a 1,500 square mile area. The Project focuses on involving ranchers with land adjacent to the 50,000-acre Northern Jaguar Reserve in conservation and habitat restoration.

Ranchers have agreed to allow the placement of cameras on their land in corridors that jaguars are known to use. For each photo the cameras take of bobcats, mountain lions, ocelots and jaguars, the rancher is paid a modest stipend. This encourages the ranch owners to allow the cats to travel their corridors freely, rather than choose to eliminate the perceived threat.

The following is an update from the field by jaguar guardians Carmina Gutiérrez and Miguel Gómez Ramírez. The video and photographs you’ll see come directly from the field and offer up a rare glimpse into the world of the northern jaguar.

From the jaguar guardians:

In the last several months, we have seen camera trap photographs of four new jaguars on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. These are: “Pecosa,” “Sei,” “Libélula,” and “Mágico.” (We selected these names from suggestions made by NJP supporters and donors.) Pecosa, Sei, and Libélula appeared at Dubaral in December, January, and April, respectively. Pecosa and Libélula are both female, and we are not yet sure about Sei’s gender because the photo is not very clear. Mágico was photographed at Babisal in May; we do not know this jaguar’s gender yet either.

Remote camera images of jaguars. Left to right: Mágico, Sei, and Pecosa.  Photos courtesy Northern Jaguar Project.

In addition to these new jaguars, we have seen many pictures of “El Inmenso” and “Ferb.” Both males have been wandering throughout the reserve and on neighboring ranches to the south. The female jaguars “Caza” and “Corazón” have also been active in recent months.

Ferb and Libélula spotted together. Photo courtesy Northern Jaguar Project

Ferb has been moving regularly between the reserve and ranches, yet in our last check of the cameras; he wasn’t recorded on the ranches at all. We knew the reason as soon as we saw the pictures from the cameras on the reserve. Ferb appears accompanied by a female! Yes, he was with Libélula! They were together several times over a period of four days. We were thrilled to get some video clips of them while they were walking together. Adult jaguars generally live alone, except in mating season when males move with females in estrus – or heat. So it is possible that this couple was mating and, if all goes well, another new jaguar will be born at the end of summer. Remember, we’ve seen that Corazón and Caza are possibly mothers right now as well! You can see the latest photos here.

Ferb and Libélula. Video courtesy Northern Jaguar Project

We are so happy with all of this good news, aren’t you? Let’s get out there and continue supporting the conservation and study of northern jaguars!

– Carmina & Miguel

Our jaguar guardians, Carmina Gutiérrez and Miguel Gómez Ramírez, have worked at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since October 2008. As the reserve’s resident biologists, Carmina and Miguel patrol lands to keep out poachers, maintain a network of motion-triggered cameras, and inventory the ecological health of reserve lands and waters.

This blog post is based on a story originally posted by the Northern Jaguar Project. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Snow leopard cubs face turbulent early weeks

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham and Gigi Allianic, Communications

We’re deeply saddened to share this news with you:

One of our precious snow leopard triplets did not survive his turbulent first weeks.

The now six-week-old cubs have been well cared for by their mother Helen in their behind the scenes maternal den, but each of the cubs has displayed health concerns that have caused our keepers and vet staff to go into overdrive trying to help the cubs pull through these challenges.

Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult but humane decision to euthanize the male cub yesterday after we determined that the little guy had multiple, severe heart defects that were causing early heart failure.

Dr. Darin Collins, the zoo’s Director of Animal Health, tells us that it’s very rare to encounter disease concerns in the zoo’s newborn animals that are too severe for modern medicine to overcome, but in this case, there were no surgical or drug treatment options available.

As you can imagine, we are heartbroken by this loss. But our dedicated zookeepers and veterinary team have the two surviving sisters to focus on, especially as the girls are facing their own challenges.

Volunteer veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Sullivan examines a female cub’s eyes. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

All three cubs have been diagnosed with congenital eyelid defects, also known as colobomas, a malformation in which a portion of the structure of the eye is lacking. Our vet crew teamed up with Dr. Tom Sullivan, the zoo’s volunteer veterinary ophthalmologist with the Animal Eye Clinic (Seattle), to perform the first of multiple minor procedures to the eyelids, which involved tightening the loose and folding eyelid tissue with sutures.

The defect has left one female cub with only one functioning eye. Though the good news is the one eye she has seems to be the strongest of all the cubs’, and she’s proven to be a lively and feisty kitty despite her challenges!

Dr. Sullivan will perform additional corrective surgery when the cubs are 3 to 4 months old. Their father, Tom, was born with this same condition and snow leopards at other zoos have been reported to have colobomas. 

The overall prognosis for our two girls is good but guarded, as there is the potential for complications that we’ll have to monitor for as Dr. Sullivan returns weekly for re-checks.

Female cub recovers from her procedure before being returned to mom. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Helen continues to be a very attentive mother and is providing excellent care for the cubs, who despite it all, are gaining weight and developing mostly as expected. The young family will have to adjust to the loss of the male cub, but we expect Helen to continue bonding and nursing with her remaining cubs based on the strong maternal care she’s shown already. Helen and Tom did sire two healthy cubs in May of 2009, so she has experience. 

Snow leopards are endangered in the wild, and their birth at the zoo is cause for celebration, introducing a new generation of wildlife ambassadors to help inspire zoo visitors to join us in conservation efforts to save this incredible species. 

It’s heartbreaking for us to see this beautiful family struggle so much in these early weeks, and we appreciate your support as we monitor their progress and do all we can to give these cubs a healthy, quality life in spite of their challenges.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mystery penguin hero honored with chick naming

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Remember our little penguin hero, the boy who spotted an abandoned Humboldt penguin egg in our exhibit and alerted a keeper to its need for rescue? Despite our all-points bulletin to locate him and thank him for his effort, we never found him after two months of searching.

But we won’t let his act go unrecognized even if his identity remains a mystery! So we decided to honor our little hero by naming the penguin chick Ramón, a Spanish name that means “protector.”

Ramón is now two months old and is thriving behind the scenes. His rocky start as an abandoned egg put his survival at peril, but thanks to the little boy’s call for help, penguin keeper Celine Pardo was able to rescue the egg before a crow or gull could snatch it. The egg was given to a pair of foster parents who took it in and successfully hatched it days after the rescue.

The chick is old enough to start some training so he now works with his zookeepers behind the scenes where he’s learning critical behaviors like how to approach keepers for feeding and how to swim in a pool. All in preparation for when he joins the colony of penguins in the outdoor, award-winning exhibit in mid-summer.

Humboldt penguins are an endangered species, so this happy story is made all the happier knowing that quick work from a visitor, zookeeper and foster penguin parents means another conservation ambassador can thrive in our community!

Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rain or shine

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

These spring days can be such a tease, sunny and bright one minute and then a windy deluge the next, but ohhh the green! Bright shiny blades of emerald appear in magnificent patches across our lawns and meadows, flowers shoot up between cracks in the pavement and all the zoo appears to be bursting with life.

Star magnolia after a heavy rain at the zoo. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

The science behind springtime weather has an immense impact on our zoo.  After just a few weeks of spring rain showers and warmer days, the blooming canopy on our 93 acres has changed the landscape considerably. Hundreds of trees, shrubs, and flowers are in full vigor. The thriving green scenery that cloaks the zoo this time of year makes a distinct impression on visitors and residents alike. 

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo

During April and May, solar radiation begins to heat up the earth's surface more and more. The northern hemisphere tilts towards the sun, sunrays are more direct, and daylight hours are longer, warming the ground, water and lower atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere, the air still holds its winter chill. When the warm, moist air begins to rise into the colder upper atmosphere, water vapor is formed and precipitation is squeezed out into rain. 

Purple rhododendrons in full bloom. There are over 1,000 species of rhodies, and they are the Washington state flower. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/ Woodland Park Zoo.

A Japanese camellia, Camellia japonica, soaks up the afternoon sun. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Seattle actually gets the majority of its rain during November, but our spring rain showers tend to be heavier than the constant drizzle we put up with during winter months. The warmer temperatures have a lot more to do with Seattle’s spring growth than the amount of rainfall. Right now, spring days are both rainy and sunny, but soon we will slip into our annual summer dry season. It’s strange to think that Seattle actually has a dry season, but we certainly do!

An elephant dips her trunk in the spring rain. Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

Pink rhododendron show off throughout zoo grounds. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

The dry time of year for the Pacific Northwest is the last half of July and the first half of August. During this time, the zoo will often go ten, twenty, even thirty days without any rainfall! Our horticulture team measures ground saturation and rainfall to determine how much watering needs to be done. Water conservation is a big job at the zoo. We have to balance a sustainable watering system while keeping the zoo blooming for residents and visitors.

A grizzly bear enjoys a spring sunbreak on the grass. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
The animals enjoy the warmth and longer spring days just like all of us! Take advantage of the naturally green grass during spring; when the dry summer months appear you’d be better off going golden.

What exactly is going golden? As far as the lawn goes, the rule is golden grass is a green yard! The average lawn needs only about an inch of rainfall per week. In the summer months, letting your lawn turn a golden color is the most sustainable and natural way to keep it up. Consider letting your lawn brown during the hottest parts of summer, when keeping up a green color would require a surge in water consumption. If you let the lawn brown, it will go into a dormant period but stay alive and healthy with about one inch of water every few weeks.

A snow leopard stretches out on the fresh green grass. Photo by Dennis Conner/Woodland Park Zoo.
A lot of people actually over water their lawns because they do not measure. Overwatering wastes your money and the region's resources; it prevents plants from getting the oxygen they need and makes them vulnerable to disease. It also causes pollution by allowing fertilizers and pesticides to run off into creeks, lakes and the Puget Sound. What can you do?

Build a rain gauge! Knowing how much rain has fallen will help you maintain your lawn and keep it green, both in color and ecologically! A rain gauge can be your guide to water conservation and smart gardening. Here is our quick guide to building a rain gauge out of recycled material.

Recycled rain gauge by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo

How to build your own recycled rain gauge:

  • Empty and wash out a 2 liter bottle. Cut off the top where it begins to curve. Set aside top.
  • Fill the bottom of the bottle with small pebbles and sand for weight, about an inch and a half deep.
  • Pour water into the bottle, just so it covers the sand and pebble floor. This is your saturation line (red line above). Beginning at the saturation line, use a ruler to mark (with a permanent marker) every inch up to the top. You can add dots for ¼ or ½ inches if you like.
  • Take the cap off the top of the bottle. Invert the top and place into the vessel to create a funnel for the rainfall. Secure the two parts together with paper clips or duct tape.
  • Place the rain gauge in your garden or on your lawn in an open area, where nothing will block the rainfall. Check your rain gauge every couple of days to measure how much rainfall your yard is getting. Use this gauge to make sure that your yard gets the amount of water that it needs and nothing more. Save water. It's the responsible way to maintain a lawn!

A lioness prowls through the tall spring grass. Photo by Dennis Dow/ Woodland Park Zoo.
Clematis wake up with the zoo. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/ Woodland Park Zoo

Some of the watering tricks we practice at the zoo can also be applied to your own gardens. 
  • Plant as many native species as possible, those that can be root wet in the rainy months and tolerate very dry spells in mid-summer. 
  • Try to group similar plants together so that they can take advantage of comparable watering practices. 
  • Use soil moist organic compost at the base of plants to act as a sponge for hydration. Compost should feel like a wet sponge after you’ve squeezed out most of the water, moist but not too squishy. 
  • Water the feet: overwatering the leaves and flowers on a plant wastes water and doesn’t do much good, this can actually cause mold and decay, instead, water the low ground around the roots. Installing a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses are easy ways to make watering more efficient.

Julienne barberry and Spiraea surround white petals near the hippo pool. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/ Woodland Park Zoo.

To learn more about sustainable gardening and gain experience building a natural Northwest yard, check out our Backyard Habitat Blog and visit our interactive backyard to see how you can make your backyard a safe, attractive spot for local wildlife! You can learn more about keeping a golden green lawn at Seattle’s Saving Water Partnership.

Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, climb towards the sunshine. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/ Woodland Park Zoo.
And come check out the North Meadow—now is the perfect time for tossing off socks and plunging toes into fresh spring grass!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pike Place Fish Market Comes to Northern Trail

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Pike Place Market. Fishmongers. Salmon. Grizzly bears. Woodland Park Zoo. Rain.

This isn’t a game of Pacific Northwest word association—it’s a recipe for a rockin’ good time down at the Northern Trail this morning!

Our friends from world famous Pike Place Fish Market brought their signature fish-tossing skills to our grizzly bear exhibit today at a media teaser for this Saturday’s Bear Affair presented by Brown Bear Car Wash event.

The fishmongers planted themselves safely at the edge of the exhibit—a massive moat stood between them and the bears, don’t worry!—and got to tossing while grizzly brothers Keema and Denali looked on.

The first few tosses of the 6-pound salmon were just for practice, though the bears seemed like they were hoping for a slip-up that would land a salmon in their direction.

But once the rhythm got going among the fishmongers—tossing the salmon over the heads of dozens of school children and visitors—it didn’t take long before the fish went sailing over to the grizzlies’ side.

The bears don’t quite have the same flair for drama. They watched the salmon come flying at them, and let the fish plop down next to them so they could amble over and start munching away.

Denali took the fish over toward their cave to snack under cover, while Keema tore into his fish out in the open.

More than just a bunch of fun, this salmon toss was a great way to reconnect Northwesterners with some of the icons of local wildlife. Brown bears are so closely linked with salmon runs in Alaska, and here too before they were extirpated from most of the Pacific Northwest. Eating salmon is in their natural history and is one of their favorite snacks, especially this time of the year when they are beefing up and craving protein.

The bears will have more tearing up to do this Saturday, June 9 at our annual Bear Affair & Big Howl for Wolves: Pacific Northwest Wildlife Celebration presented by Brown Bear Car Wash. You’ll learn how to be safe living in bear country, including tips for how to bear-proof your next backyard party or camping trip, and you’ll learn it the fun way—by watching bears tear things apart! Our conservation partner, the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, will be on hand to teach us all how to be bear-smart.

The event also highlights the wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and how we can help protect our wild neighbors and live in harmony with them, including bears, wolves, turtles and even butterflies. Don’t miss one of our most popular events. And hey, if it rains, it’ll just feel like an authentic Northwest camping experience!

Video by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo, photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: You spin me right round

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

River otters sometimes swim in circles, creating a whirlpool. 

The maneuver pays off--the whirlpool brings up fish that were hiding on the bottom of the river or lake, making for easier snacking.  

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.