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Showing posts from October, 2012

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Hippo chomp

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Hippos can open their mouths up to 150 degrees wide! That’s handy for chomping on pumpkins.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Bash continues this weekend

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



At the annual Pumpkin Bash presented by Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, there is pumpkin bashing, and also pumpkin smashing. There's pumpkin chomping and definitely some pumpkin stomping.


The fun continues this weekend with our final two days of the event, Sat. - Sun., Oct. 27 & 28. See how each animal tears into its Halloween treats and get some treats of your own with trick-or-treating for the little ones. Plus, one child 12 years and under in costume is admitted FREE with a paid adult during Pumpkin Bash.

The pumpkins are part of the zoo’s excellent animal care program to help enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally and physically stimulated and engage zoo visitors. Pumpkin Bash has been going strong the last two weekends, and we've learned a few things about our animals along the way.

For instance, we learned that the instinct to dive face-first into a delicious tre…

Where do silverspot butterflies lay their eggs?

Posted by: Alyse Kennamer, Zoo Corps intern



This summer, I had the unforgettable opportunity to work with a threatened species, the Oregon silverspot butterfly. While I was working here, an amazing idea came to my head for a study that could help scientists better understand and protect this species. I wanted to observe a female butterfly, see where she lays her eggs, and how it’s done.


It all started at the beginning of the summer when I joined the silverspot project as part of the zoo’s teen program, Zoo Corps. I joined Zoo Corps in my sophomore year of high school, and am now enrolled in my first year of college. In early spring, we got to pick from a list of about 10 areas we wanted to work in at the zoo. Working in the lab where the zoo rears silverspot caterpillars was my first choice. You would probably think it was weird, why would a teenager want to spend her summer picking violet leaves and washing dishes for caterpillars when she was surrounded by a bunch of different anim…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Red panda is red

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications




The “red” in the red panda’s name is easy to understand—the animal’s fiery colored coat serves as camouflage to blend with reddish-brown moss on trees.

The “panda” part, well, despite the common bamboo diet, the red panda is more closely related to raccoons than it is to the giant panda.

Do the spider dance!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Fall is here! Crispy leaves, football, presidential debates, pumpkin spice lattes and… spidies!


Spider webs appear everywhere; draped across your porch, athwart your front door, and if you happen to be tall, most likely dangling in your hair. Despite the unpleasantness of being greeted each morning with a silky web stuck to your face, orb weaver spiders are pretty incredible.

There are more than 3,000 different species of orb weavers around the world, but the most common species in Western Washington is the cross spider (Araneus diadematus). These tiny architects are unbelievable weavers.


Orb weavers construct their webs by first flinging themselves into the breeze. Attached to an anchor point, the spiders float through the air until they find a secure spot to dock. After the main line is attached, they drop a second line from the center, forming a “Y” shape. This is the foundation for the rest of the web.

The spiders then begin to weave radii …

Sloths on the flipside

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down...


OK, maybe the Fresh Prince wasn’t rapping about sloths, but considering they spend the vast majority of their day turned upside down, he sure could have been.


Sloths eat, sleep, mate and even give birth upside down. If you were to hang upside down from your seat right now (use your imagination and spare yourself the pain of actually doing it, trust me), you’ll feel your head start to pound, gravity tugging at your hair, and honestly, I’m getting dizzy just writing about it.

But none of that happens for the upside-down kings of the rain forest, because sloths are specially adapted to live life from their unique point of view.
So how do sloths function upside down?
Looking good: Sloth fur defies gravity by inverting the typical hair growth pattern. Think about a four-legged terrestrial animal—say a bear. The bear’s hair has a part on the mid-back and the hair grows towa…

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Meerkat pileup

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



Meerkat pileup!



Meerkats are the most social of all the mongooses and spend much of their time playing and grooming to maintain their tight bonds.

Prince Charming

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

If you’re on the hunt for Prince Charming, I’m giving a fair warning to stay clear of Woodland Park Zoo’s frog friends on exhibit. These frogs may seem like prince potential, but don’t be so quick to give them a kiss!

The frog collection in the Day Exhibit is rather unique and houses more than eight amphibian species. Of these amphibians, many are native to rain forest regions of the world. The hourglass tree frog, red-eyed tree frog and green-and-black poison dart frog are among many amphibians living in the wet forests of Central America.


A little, colorful frog that leaps along the Costa Rican and Colombian wetlands is the yellow hourglass tree frog. Throughout the dry season, this little frog lives among the trees of the towering forest canopy. The cool, wet rain forests provide constant moisture for its skin to absorb until the dry season ends. With the rainy season come small ponds for the hourglass tree frog to inhabit. 

The hourg…

Cuteness justified

Posted by: Laura Lockard, Communications/Public Affairs

Come on. We know you do it. Cheat a little in the morning. Sneak in a little around lunch time. Get one more dose before you go home from work. It is worse than any addiction known to mankind… the cuteness craving. So strong it can take up an entire day if you aren’t careful. You nervously close your browser hiding the baby ocelot the minute someone walks by. Constantly dreading the inevitable question from your boss, “What have you been doing all day?”


Now you can answer, “Strengthening my concentration.” All that time sneaking quick peeks at baby zoo animals, bear cams and those awesome miniature Egyptian tortoises is now justified! We need those daily doses of cuteness and it might even be making us more focused, enabling our concentration.


Researchers recently published a paper on how “cuteness” can contribute to behavioral carefulness in humans. Based on their research, highlighted in an article on Wired.com, humans are fo…

Nepenthes!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Stepping into the greenhouse at Woodland Park Zoo, I am hit with a hot, humid air that smells of fertilizer, earth and some wildly primal perfumes. In the farthest corner is a table smothered in a muddle of vines, twisting tendrils and mysterious red and pink flanked vessels. Welcome to the land of the endangered old world pitcher plants, Nepenthes.

I tracked down Woodland Park Zoo gardener and pitcher plant enthusiast, Justin Schroeder, who had a lot to say about these endangered carnivores.

Old world pitcher plants live in very remote areas, deep in the hillsides of tropical Asia. They prefer sunny ridges and slopes to thick jungles. Rain and high humidity are important elements of their environment as they like a permanently wet soil. Old world pitcher plants can grow epiphytically, atop other plants, trees or logs, and can climb to the tops of the highest canopies or make their space on the dark forest floor.

Pitcher plants often grow in acidic…