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Showing posts from September, 2012

Butterflies + beer = wildlife conservation

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



This is a conservation story about butterflies and beer.



Where to start? How about we take it back to biology class. Remember learning about generalists and specialists? Humans are the ultimate generalist—we’ll live in just about any habitat and eat just about any food.


Then there are the specialists, like koalas and their eucalyptus-only diet. For specialists, survival depends on that one thing they specialize in. That one thing goes away, and they’re in big trouble.

That’s what’s happening to the Oregon silverspot butterfly, a native of the Pacific Northwest and a specialist dependent on the early blue violet plant for survival. This threatened species once lived in Washington but has since been wiped from the state, and now only five wild populations remain in Oregon and California.

The Oregon silverspot butterfly needs the early blue violet, a low-growing native wildflower, to survive. Silverspots lay their eggs near violet plants, and grow…

Fluffy flamingo chicks hatch

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Our Chilean flamingos may be pretty in pink, but three recently hatched chicks are wonderful in white as their downy feathers haven’t yet taken on that classic blushed shade.


Flamingo chicks hatch with a whitish, gray down and start to acquire their pink feathering at about 1 year of age, though it can still be mixed with gray-brown contour feathers until they are 2 to 3 years old.


The chicks hatched on exhibit between August 31 and September 5 following a 29-day incubation period. To ensure a higher chance of survival, the chicks and parents have been relocated behind the scenes to a quieter off-exhibit nursery for rearing. As they get bigger and hardier, we will reintroduce them back out on exhibit and back into the flock.


Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Bodacious, violaceous turaco chicks!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


“We have some pretty cute violaceous turaco chicks in the Savanna Aviary”, says excited zookeeper, Norah Farnham. “We have not hatched this species in quite a while!”

The chicks, both boys, hatched a day apart on July 31 and August 1. Even though they have fledged the nest, these two stick together and follow each other from branch to branch.

As this little chick stretches out, you can see his soft down. They are just starting to get their primary feathers and coloring. Zookeeper Katie Ahl told us she can see their beaks beginning to change color already!

Here is a photo of an adult violaceous turaco. They have a really beautiful dark violet plumage with striking crimson primary flight feathers. Their orange beaks, as you can see, are also very bright, as well as their yellow forehead and scarlet top.

This baby is hunting for cantaloupe, a prized turaco delicacy…
The chick sneaks up on its prey, silent and poised for the attack…
Sluurp! Good thing th…

Dig it! Celebrate the Asian Tropical Forest groundbreaking

Posted by: Monica Lake, Capital Projects


Our sloth bears Randy and Tasha were out in full regalia Tuesday, sniffing, scratching, balancing on logs and slurping their favorite foods—all to greet 200+ zoo lovers and advocates who gathered to help us celebrate a major milestone:  breaking ground on the new Asian Tropical Forest exhibit complex!

Nearly 100 additional zoo fans of the smaller variety “dug in” to make way for new homes for Asian small-clawed otters, sloth bears and Malayan tigers.

The kids also did a great job of overseeing the work of several leaders of the Asian Tropical Forest capital campaign, donors and public officials. The leaders’ mission? Earn their stripes by filling the tiger shovels, of course. Over and over and over again.

The most progress, however, was made by our design-build team members. There is a lot of terrain to prepare and myriad exhibit components to create for the new 2-acre complex. Here they are taking a hard earned break.

It wasn’t all work and no fun!…

Every day is spa day in the Elephant Barn

Posted by: Laura Lockard, Communications/Public Affairs



Asian elephant Bamboo shows us how bath time is done. Video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
From Borneo to Seattle, elephants embrace their bath time. We all know the feeling when you first step into the shower after working in the yard all day. Elephants at Woodland Park Zoo not only get an extended, luxurious shower, they also enjoy a quatro-pedi and a good exfoliation with a special elephant brush.

I recently had the pleasure of joining the elephant keepers as they brought Watoto into the shower barn. There she greeted them with a long, trunky sniff and then was ready for her bath with the garden hose. Her giantess turned attentively as she followed her keeper’s soft commands, “Watoto right, Watoto turn, Watoto back.” All the washing while, she was inquisitively seeking that next snack. Carrots seem to be her treat of choice.

Even more outstanding was her sheer willingness to lift each foot, easily balancing on the other three wh…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Emu feathers

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Emu feathers are designed to hang loosely, which helps keep them cool but also gives them an appearance of having hair rather than the tightly barbed feathers we’re used to seeing on most birds.

Zoo wins national conservation awards

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications


Exciting news!
This week, Woodland Park Zoo took home two national conservation awards from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting organization for more than 200 zoos and aquariums in North America.

We won top honors in the North American Conservation Award category for our collaborative Oregon Spotted Frog Reintroduction Project, along with our partners Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek. Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo also earned the Significant Achievement Award for the Oregon Silverspot Captive Rearing Program.
These awards represent the 14th national and international honors in conservation for us from AZA.
The Oregon Spotted Frog Reintroduction Project is a six-year collaborative effort among Woodland Park Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Northwest Trek and other conservation leaders in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of the native Oregon spotted frog have been decimated by 80 to 90 percent in Washington state. But Woodland Park Z…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Porcupine teeth

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


A porcupine’s front teeth continue to grow throughout its life.


That’s helpful since it spends its days constantly gnawing on hard substances, wearing down its teeth. Mmmm, tree bark.

Construction alert: Last chance to see sloth bears

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We’re about to break ground on phase one of our all new tiger, sloth bear and otter exhibit complex, and that means we’re coming up on the final weekend—Sept. 15 – 16—to view sloth bears Randy and Tasha at the zoo before construction begins.


Once construction begins the week of Sept. 17, we’ll be closing off the area where the sloth bears live now and they will remain off public view until both phases of the construction project are complete, which we anticipate will be in 2014.
The new exhibit complex will transform a 60-year-old portion of the zoo into a state-of-the-art, 2-acre complex with dynamic new homes for several species of the Asian tropical forest—Asian small-clawed otters, sloth bears, tropical birds and Malayan tigers.

When phase one of the major new exhibit complex opens in May 2013, visitors will meet a new addition to the zoo—the Asian small-clawed otter—and enjoy a new children’s play area. We’ll continue fundraising and then…

A day in the life of Squeaky the hawk lure

Posted by: Gretchen Albrecht, Raptor Keeper


Hi, I’m Squeaky the squirrel. I work at Woodland Park Zoo’s Raptor Center as a hawk lure. It’s been a busy summer for me. I thought you might enjoy hearing about my job.

8:00 a.m. - Time to get up. I rest with two other lures, the “dummy bunny” used for the ferruginous hawk and golden eagle, and a swing lure used for the Aplomado falcon (it is supposed to look like a bird).  Obviously I am the cutest!

Lures are an important part of training a raptor to safely free fly. The lure usually represents the raptor’s natural prey. After getting a meal or two on the lure a raptor is generally pretty keen to fly to it since the lure means food. Flying to a lure is a lot more fun than flying to a trainer’s glove so a lure is often used when a raptor has gone off course and is perched in an unfamiliar location where it may be uncomfortable.
Mornings are busy around the Raptor Center with lots of cleaning and preparing the birds for the flight program. I…