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Animal Olympics

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
With Olympics in full swing, we’re awarding some medals to our own animal all-stars, some of the best athletes at Woodland Park Zoo.

Competition: Swimming

Penguin porpoising with purpose. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Gold medal: Humboldt penguin
Humboldt penguins may seem awkward on land, but in the water they truly fly, getting up to speeds of 17 mph and bursting into glorious dives known as porpoising, where they leap out of the water to catch a breath and dive back in again without losing speed.

Doing the backstroke. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Silver medal: River otter
Otters have a killer backstroke, though their form might differ from our own. Plus, their propensity to create whirlwinds that kick up bottom-feeding fish may throw off the competition.

Hippo submerging. Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.
Bronze medal: Hippo
Hippos get up to about 5 mph underwater, but it’s their breath control—hippos close their nostrils when they submerge into water, holding their breath for up to 5 minutes—that gives them a competitive advantage.

Competition: Gymnastics

Siamang hangs around. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo
Gold medal: Siamang
Siamangs have an anatomical advantage for swinging through tree tops, nature’s uneven bars. Their  arms are longer than their legs and their long fingers act as perfect hooks for swinging hand over hand from branch to branch, tree to tree.

A treeshrew sticks the landing. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Silver medal: Treeshrew
Small but mighty, treeshrews would excel at floor exercises given the incredible leaps and flips we’ve seen them do across their exhibit.

An orangutan grips branches with her hands and feet. Photo by Dennis Conner/Woodland Park Zoo.
Bronze medal: Orangutan
Orangutans win bronze for being incredibly agile, despite their large size (their arms measure 7 feet across when stretched out to the sides!). They get extra points for being able to grab onto bars and rings with either their hands or their feet.

Competition: Sprints

Adia runs after her toy. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Gold medal: Lion
Fierce predators, lions can get up to speeds of 50 mph but cannot sustain that speed for long, so they are better in sprints than long distance.

Galloping gazelle’s on the zoo’s African Savanna. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Silver medal: Grant’s gazelle
These gazelles clock in around 45-50 mph, which is useful when fleeing from predators.

A displaying ostrich shows its powerful legs. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Bronze medal: Ostrich
Ostrich can clock in at more than 40 mph, giving them the fastest land speed of any bird.

Competition: Football

Rico is clearly a Sounders fan. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Gold medal: Rico the Sicilian miniature donkey
Rico’s recipe for soccer domination? Skill + style. Check out the scarf.

Kickin’ it with the wolves. Photo by Sarah Lovrien/Woodland Park Zoo
Silver medal: Wolf
This gray wolf understands the importance of clean footwork, and that there’s no “I” in “team” or “wolf pack” for that matter.

The soccer ball is no match for a grizzly. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Bronze medal: Grizzly
When the bears heard they could use any body part but hands or arms to play, they got creative.

Congratulations to all the winners!


Anonymous said…
What a grand set of pictures! Thank you!
Anonymous said…
I love it, made my day.
Anonymous said…
So swit to see perefect display of talents! Inspirational!
Anonymous said…
This was really cute + funny and made me smile!