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Showing posts from November, 2012

New endangered turtle hatchlings

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

As a kid, the only turtles that really interested me lived in the dwellings of New York City, fought crime against the Foot Clan and exclaimed things like “Cowabunga!” Yep, I’m talking about these guys—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Since then, my expectation of turtles hasn’t changed. They should be fierce fighters, find strength in numbers and ultimately, play a role in helping the world. It’s just that now, they are fighting extinction instead of foot soldiers, gaining numbers through captive breeding and head starting programs through zoos and conservation partners, and the important role they play on the planet is more ecologically significant than crime-fighting significant.

More than 50 percent of the world’s known turtle species are facing extinction, making these reptiles one of the most endangered groups of animals on the planet. Turtle extinction is a global phenomenon, but with another successful turtle breeding season at …

Preparing for the lion cubs' first vet exam

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Lion momma Adia continues to do a great job behind the scenes caring for her four little cubs who turn three weeks old this Thursday. Adia is a conscientious groomer, which is a lot of work with four kitties on your hands (err, paws).

The cubs are two weeks old in this video. Video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Later this week we’ll attempt the first veterinary check-up on the cubs to get a better assessment of their overall health and growth progress.

Keepers have been giving Adia the option to shift into her outdoor exhibit and away from the cubs for a few minutes a day, which helps to normalize the routine for her. That way when it is time for the vet check-up, Adia will be comfortable with shifting outside, allowing us brief access to the cubs for a lightning fast exam.

The most famous (visiting) reindeer of all

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

There were Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous visiting reindeer of all?

Lucky and Christi, two female reindeer, are making a guest appearance at the zoo for all six weeks of WildLights presented by KeyBank, the zoo's all new winter lights festival, opening tonight, Nov. 23.

And with nine other famous reindeer on your minds this holiday season, it’s only appropriate to honor each of them with nine fascinating facts about these sleigh-pulling beauties.

1. Reindeer are also known as caribou in North America. Though, many use “reindeer” to describe domesticated caribou.

2. Different species of caribou live throughout subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. In the U.S., caribou inhabit the northern-most territories of the states and roam throughout all ten Canadian provinces. However, their populations are dwindling. Today, caribou are severely en…

Animal diets by the number

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Imagine the amount of food it takes to feed your family every week. The average American eats nearly 40 pounds of food a week. With two adults, maybe a teenager and a couple of kiddies gathered around the table, those appetites add up fast (especially now that Thanksgiving is here, and many of us double up on servings)!

Now, imagine the zoo preparing dinner for three lions, three elephants and two full-grown hippos. Those 40 pounds of food, even the extra Thanksgiving servings, start to sound more like an afternoon snack now, don’t they? Trust us when we say that animal cravings are far greater than any hungry teenager in your household.

At the zoo, our animals’ food comes through the commissary, which is more or less a grocery depot for the animals. Much like a neighborhood market might stock your family’s mealtime essentials, the commissary shelves each animal’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners based on the season’s freshest selection.


News from the field: Jaguar Conservation Fund

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Field Conservation

To look at a jaguar—its massive jaws, its muscular body—one would think nothing could take it down. But the jaguar faces very real threats: man-made ones. Threatened in its native Americas, the jaguar is declining in numbers due to loss of habitat and conflict with humans. The two issues are connected, as hungry jaguars living in reduced habitats wander into human-occupied land in search of food, particularly in the form of cattle ranches.

Thanks to a generous bequest, the Jaguar Conservation Fund was established in 2003 by Woodland Park Zoo to support field conservation efforts for jaguars. The Fund’s goal is to support projects that lead directly to conservation of jaguars and their habitat by incorporating conservation, education, and research components, along with strong connections to communities living with jaguars. Projects must clearly demonstrate that their work will lead to long-term jaguar survival in the wild. Each year a total…

Lion cubs at one week

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Born a week ago, the zoo’s four lion cubs continue to grow and are showing positive signs of good health.

Three-year-old mother Adia and her cubs are together in an off-view maternity den where the family can bond in a quieter environment. We have been monitoring the litter via an internal web cam and we’re very pleased with Adia’s maternal care and protectiveness. As a first-time mother, she’s providing attentive care the way a good mother lion naturally does.

All four cubs appear to be healthy and their eyes have opened. As far as we can tell, each cub is nursing and demonstrating increased mobility. Our intent is to leave mom alone as much as possible without intervening. As part of our exemplary neonatal care program, we will conduct periodic exams. The earliest target date for their first checkup is next week.

The cubs will go out for public viewing when they are older and outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees. Until then, zoo-…

Penguins get their paint on

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Flippers aren’t designed to hold paint brushes, so when zookeepers wanted to give our Humboldt penguins the chance to paint, we had to go kindergarten style and just get messy.

We held a painting session yesterday for penguin trio Mojito, Cortez and Ramón to produce artwork that will be available for purchase tomorrow at the Puget Sound - American Association of Zoo Keepers annual holiday auction.

Painting is a new form of enrichment for our penguins,though it is something we have done with other animals around the zoo for years. Asian elephant Chai has been painting for 13 years now, and her painting will also be available at the auction.

Painting works as a great enrichment opportunity for animals like orangutans, bringing out their natural tool-user instincts, and elephants, playing to their skill at manipulating objects with their trunks. For penguins, the enrichment is less about using objects and more about connecting with the natural c…

WildLights is almost here

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

WildLights presented by KeyBank—the zoo's first winter lights festival—premieres next week, but we've been daydreaming about sugarplums and snowflakes for months in preparation for the big debut. You can say we’ve been hit with the WildLights bug—Twinkleitus—ever since we saw the preliminary sketches of our zoo lit up with 375,000 sparkling LED lights!

It takes a lot of hard work to build such an elaborate lights display, so John Evans, the zoo's guy in charge of this entire operation, assembled a group of LED artisans who blew our socks off with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. A lot of these folks have backgrounds in theater design, carpentry and sculpture, but one of them is even a stuntman from Hollywood.

The crew worked all summer building flapping flamingos, flying frogs and even a graceful elephant herd. Stationed in a big white tent behind our penguin exhibit, the team had to work fast to create all of the pieces you’ll s…