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Friday, March 29, 2013

The lion cub names are...

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The results of our Name the Cubs contest are in! More than 2,000 of you entered the contest for a chance to name one male and one female lion cub—and the winning names are:

Male cub – Rudo (“love” in Zulu, pronounced ROO-doh )

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Female cub – Busela (“happy and independent” in Zulu, pronounced BOO-sayla )

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Two lucky winners—Tate and Ross MacDonald of Seattle and Pamela Garland of Olympia—are taking home the grand prizes for submitting these winning names, as selected by our panel of zoo judges. That grand prize includes a private viewing at the lion exhibit with a keeper!

Rudo and Busela join their brother and sister, who also received names recently, this time with the help of zookeepers and donors who have helped bring big cats to Woodland Park Zoo.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

The other male is now known as Pelo (“heart” in Sotho, pronounced PEE-lo) and the other female as Nobuhle (“the beautiful one” in Zulu, pronounced no-BOO-sche). The Zulu and Sotho names represent languages that are native to a part of the lions’ South African range.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest! We received such thoughtful submissions and all of us here at the zoo truly appreciate the time you took to find names and meanings that represent what is so special about these four cubs—the joy they bring to our community, and the inspiration they drive in all of us to do something more for wildlife.

The African lion is the only big cat not protected under the Endangered Species Act, but that doesn't mean it isn't facing pressures that need immediate attention. As few as 32,000 African lions remain in the wild, and their future remains uncertain as human population growth impacts lion populations and the landscapes on which they depend.

Adopt a lion cub through our ZooParent special today and $5 of your contribution will go directly to the zoo’s conservation efforts, supporting projects around the globe like the Ruaha Carnivore Project. The project works in Tanzania to address the conflicts that erupt between humans and lions when competing for space in the Ruaha landscape. Learn more about this conservation collaboration and other projects around the globe.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Three ! More! Cubs! Jaguar triplets born over weekend

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Still image captured from internal monitoring cam on Monday, March 25, three days after birth. 

The zoo welcomed three cubs to the count on Friday, marking the first jaguar birth at the zoo in nearly two decades! In the last few months, the zoo seems to be bursting with babies. Can we get a cub count?

In November, we celebrated the birth of four rambunctious lions in over 20 years at the zoo. In December, mama sloth bear, Tasha, surprised us with not one but two newborns. And Friday evening, the rare birth of jaguar triplets sent the cub count soaring. In just six months, the zoo has welcomed nine cubs from three animal species! The three new cubs are celebrated as the latest members of the zoo’s newest generation.

Zookeepers are using an internal monitoring cam to keep an eye on mom and jaguar cubs inside their behind-the-scenes maternity den. Catch a glimpse of what we can see on the cam in the video below.

Video taken from the internal monitoring cam on the morning of March 25, 2013.

This is the first successful birth for our jaguar pair, 7-year-old Nayla and 14-year-old father Junior, after having given birth to a stillborn cub in August. Jaguar births are rare, and this birth in particular is worthy of great celebration not only for Woodland Park Zoo, but for zoos across the country. Nayla and Junior became mates after a recommendation from the Jaguar Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP pairs animals in North American zoos based on each animal’s genetic representation and demographic parameters of the population. If you’ve ever witnessed Junior and Nayla cuddling up to one another in Jaguar Cove, you can attest they make a great match! Because Junior’s parents were wild-born and this is the first birth for both parents, the infusion of their genes will be very significant for the Jaguar SSP.

This video brings us back to the earliest days when Nayla and Junior first met. Produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Like many felines, jaguars are born with their eyes closed but they begin to open them within two weeks. Cubs weigh about 25-29 ounces at birth, and receive all necessary nutrients by nursing from mom. Our animal management and veterinary staff will take a closer look at the cubs’ health and overall development in a few weeks during a routine wellness exam. The sexes of the three cubs are unknown at this time.

Nayla and the new trio will live off view in their earliest weeks, but we’ll continue to post to the blog health updates, cub photos and news on their development. Zoo visitors can still spot Junior napping on the rocks in our award-winning Jaguar Cove, though!

More scenes from the internal monitoring cam inside the maternity den. Taken the morning of March 25, 2013.

Jaguars are listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss and fragmentation of wild areas, hunting by ranchers, and loss of wild prey due to overhunting by humans—which fuels human-jaguar conflict—are major threats facing the jaguar. While the jaguar has been eradicated from more than 40% of its historical range, it still exists in 18 countries in Latin America, from Argentina to Mexico. The jaguar is the third largest cat in the feline family after tigers and lions, and the largest feline in the Western Hemisphere.

Since its creation in 2003, Woodland Park Zoo’s Jaguar Conservation Fund each year supports several field conservation projects dedicated to preserving wild jaguars and their habitat. The Fund has made awards to 33 projects in eight Central and South American countries for a total investment of $102,806. Currently, the zoo supports three projects in Mexico, Guatemala, and Paraguay-Bolivia that all aim to reduce conflict between people and jaguars. The goal of the projects is to find ways for both people and predators to share Earth’s ecosystems.

Trust us, this won’t be the last time you hear about our new litter of jaguars. Check back soon for more cub photos, videos and health updates!

Friday, March 22, 2013

British Columbia man bitten by viper saved by Woodland Park Zoo

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Thanks to the speedy efforts and smart diagnostics of hospitals in Canada and the U.S. and a poison control center, the life of a man bitten by a venomous viper was saved by antivenin supplied by Woodland Park Zoo.

The life of Michael Lovatt of Roberts Creek, B.C. was saved thanks to the rescue of hospitals and Woodland Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health.

The 61-year-old Roberts Creek, B.C. man was bitten while vacationing in Costa Rica but didn’t know at the time it was a viper. On Monday when he returned to Vancouver, he immediately sought medical attention at Vancouver General Hospital where he was diagnosed with kidney failure, and suffering from bleeding and swelling from his foot to the mid-thigh.  Dr. Roy Purssell with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) was brought in. Working around the clock, the medical team figured out the type of snake based on the patient’s symptoms, a Fer-de-lance Bothrops asper, native to Central and South America. The snake is known to cause deaths in humans.

The patient’s foot. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health.

The team contacted Woodland Park Zoo and medical experts at UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center Tuesday afternoon. Mark Myers, a curator at the zoo, rounded up 20 vials of antivenin, which the zoo keeps on hand for emergencies, and arranged for a zookeeper to deliver the vials to Harborview. British Columbia Ambulance Service was in the air within minutes and picked up the antivenin by air ambulance.

According to Purssell, the patient’s blood clotting improved dramatically within minutes of receiving the antivenin and his condition had stabilized in six hours.

The zoo keeps a supply of antivenin for Mexican species of pit vipers, in the zoo’s case, rattlesnakes, cantils, eyelash vipers and bushmasters. “Receiving the call for help was quite a harrowing experience,” noted Myers. “We knew that time was critical and we had to move fast if we wanted to help save this patient’s life. I was relieved to hear that he improved within minutes and that we played a life-saving role.”

“Without the dedication of medical experts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, and Woodland Park Zoo, this man may have succumbed to his injuries,” said Carol Swan, communications director with the BCCDC.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lion cubs lucky to have such a great mom

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Mom Adia doesn't get to rest much with four cubs, but she's as sharp as ever when it comes to watching out for them. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Last week the lion cubs got their first access to the full lion exhibit that includes the watery moat. That moat was a concern for us when the cubs were still small and developing their coordination skills, which is why they were only recently given access to the area. Now that the cubs have the run of the exhibit, keepers have been watching Adia closely to make sure that she’s not too overwhelmed by trying to look after four rambunctious cubs across a large space and near that moat.

The moat is in the forefront as the cubs play with mom on the heated rock. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

But momma proved to us this weekend that we never needed to doubt her ability to be in charge. When she was playing with a ball the other day, it got away from her and rolled into the water. The cubs rushed to the moat to get it, but with great speed, Adia headed them off, retrieved the ball herself, carried it over to a dry area and dropped it down for them to play with, masterfully keeping the cubs far away from the water the whole time. She doesn't miss a beat and proved to us that she's well equipped to watch out for the cubs no matter the circumstances!

Adia reminds one feisty cub who the real boss is. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

One of the great pleasures of seeing the cubs in person is seeing them interact with mom and watching her watch over them. Kudos to a good mom who is always in charge!

What will this cub's name be? Soon we'll announce the names for all four cubs! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

So what's up next for the cubs? The naming contest has closed and we're now going through the 2,000+ entries we received. Soon the judging panel will pick their favorites, and we'll announce the names of the cubs shortly. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cancel your weekend plans, zoo-goers! The lion cubs are waiting for you

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

The cubs took to the heated rock in the exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Together, our four little felines have explored most every inch of their current exhibit space. They've rolled across each thick patch of grass, scaled all logs without hesitation, licked every crevice of the viewing glass, and now we think it’s time they move on to bigger, bolder adventures. Adventures that encompass their entire exhibit!

Now that the cubs are big enough and coordinated enough, they are safe to be near the moat in the exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Our animal management staff continues to keep watchful eyes on the spunky foursome. But at nearly five months old and nearly 50 pounds apiece, the cubs can run, jump, roll and roar safely in the spacious lion exhibit of our award-winning African Savanna. That means the fence has come down and they now have access beyond the smaller, moat-free yard where they first debuted.

With the run of the exhibit, the cubs' games of tag are now pretty epic. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

And the best part for visitors? Because the viewing is no longer restricted to just the viewing shelter, there will no longer be a waiting line at the exhibit. Beginning Saturday, March 16, visitors will be able to watch the cubs from all viewpoints of the lion exhibit. The cubs will be given full range of the lion exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

When not exploring all around, the cubs can often be found in a pile of adorableness. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Don’t forget! We still need your help to name the cubs. The naming contest ends tonight at 5:00 p.m. PST, so act fast. Visit zoo.org/namethecubs to submit your entry and have a shot at taking home one of two grand prizes, including a private viewing for five at the lion exhibit with a zookeeper!

Monday, March 11, 2013

How does your garden grow? With Zoo Doo of course!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Hey northwest green-thumbs, spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time for Woodland Park Zoo’s Spring Fecal Fest!

This beneficial pile of Zoo Doo will work wonders for a garden! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Dr. Doo, also known as the “Prince of Poo,” the “GM of BM” or the “Grand Poopah,” has been collecting our highly coveted Zoo Doo or Bedspread all winter and now is your chance to enter a bid to purchase the gardener’s delight!

Zoo Doo is the most exotic and highly prized compost in the Pacific Northwest. Composed of species' feces contributed by the zoo’s non-primate herbivores such as elephants, hippos, giraffes and more, Zoo Doo is perfect for growing veggies and annuals.

Bedspread, the zoo’s premium composted mulch, is a combination of Zoo Doo, sawdust and large amounts of wood chips. Bedspread is used to cushion perennial beds and woody landscapes including rose beds, shrubs and pathways.

Due to the popularity of Zoo Doo, gardening fans must enter a drawing for the chance to purchase Zoo Doo or Bedspread. Entries will be accepted online or by postcard from March 11 through March 31. To enter, visit www.zoo.org/fecalfest.

Temperatures inside the compost piles can be really steamy! Microorganisms help break down the humus into nutrient rich soil, perfect for planting. Photo by Ric Brewer/Woodland Park Zoo.

Online entries and postcards will be randomly selected according to supply and demand. Dr. Doo will contact the lucky winners and pick-up dates will begin April 13 through April 28. Winners load the compost while Dr. Doo provides the shovels!

Zoo Doo or Bedspread: Pick-up truck 8x4 bed: $60; 6x4 bed: $45; 6x3 bed: $35. Limit one full truck per person. Garbage cans: $8 to $10 depending on size; bags: $4 to $6 depending on size. Two-gallon and pint-sized buckets are available during zoo hours at the ZooStore for $12.95 and $4.95, respectively.

For more information, call the Poop Line at 206.625.POOP or visit the zoo’s website at www.zoo.org/fecalfest

Happy Doo’in!

Springtime rhododendron blooms. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Backyard Habitat classes help urban gardener

Posted by: Julie Webster, Zoo volunteer and Backyard Habitat class participant

Editor’s note: Woodland Park Zoo is once again offering its popular Backyard Habitat classes to help you bring more wildlife to your yard. Former class participant and zoo volunteer, Julie Webster, shares how the lessons she learned have transformed her urban garden.

When I first signed up for Woodland Park Zoo’s Backyard Habitat workshop, I was already mindful of the four basic needs I had to meet to support local wildlife in my yard: food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. But it was in the workshop that I really came to understand the importance of cover and plant layering—the essentials to diversifying a habitat—and how these principles could be applied even in a small, urban garden.

Maple in my yard before I learned about layering through the Backyard Habitat classes. Photo courtesy of Julie Webster.

Layering isn't specifically listed in the four basic needs, but go to the forest and you will see first-hand how essential it is. From the tallest conifers down to the mosses that hug the ground, there are large deciduous trees, smaller trees, tall shrubs, shorter shrubs, ferns and other perennials, tiny wildflowers and spreading plants. Each layer has its denizens, animals who are most comfortable at that height.

I came home from the workshop with a list of plants I wanted to include in my yard and a goal of providing better cover. One of the plants I was particularly enamored with was serviceberry. I usually buy my plants small and wait for them to grow in, but at a native garden sale in the spring I found a 6-foot serviceberry that I brought home and planted near my vine maple.

Layering in effect: serviceberry fruit with the maple above and behind and the dogwood on the right. Photo courtesy of Julie Webster.

That summer turned out to be one of the hottest I could remember since I relocated to Seattle. The plant struggled, but survived. The next year, it had a few bunches of fruit. The third summer, it was covered with clusters of purple berries. When I crouched beneath it to try to get a picture, I suddenly understood the connection between cover and layers. Over the fruit I was trying to photograph arched the longer branches of the maple. Twining in from the south was dogwood. A bird that perched there, plucking ripe berries, was hidden from above by the maple and from the sides by the dogwood.

The zoo’s Backyard Habitat workshop taught me many things, but the most important is how to look at my garden with what Jon Young would call Native Eye. I think of it more as nature’s eyes. Sitting outside, trying to do some work, I would look up to see a flock of tiny chickadees fly across my neighbor’s yard and fan out at the fence. They disappear into the evergreen clematis that covers the chain link, invisible except for the exciting twittering. On some mysterious signal, they emerge, re-form and move en masse for the feeder and nearby oceanspray.

Using nature’s eyes, in this case those of a chickadee, I see how the rigid form of the chain link covered in foliage is an adequate substitute for the thicker inside branches of shrubs and trees. Many habitat books list out what various species need. The workshop presenters were able to introduce us to how these needs varied by species and behavior.

Strawberry tree. Photo courtesy of Julie Webster.
As an urban gardener trying to create habitat, I need to be as flexible as those chickadees. If I was in the country, I might be able to construct habitat entirely from native plants. In the city, my choice of evergreen plants is more limited. I don't have room to plant a cedar or Douglas fir. However, I do have room for a strawberry tree, a plant mentioned by one of the workshop presenters as a favorite non-native. It does well in our climate, is relatively compact, produces edible fruit and provides cover year-long.

These are the kinds of tips that have allowed me to enrich my garden and bring a diversity of life to it. I even learned to plant thorny plants, such as native rose, around my birdbath to protect birds from the local cats that try to stalk them!

Want to learn how to bring more wildlife to your backyard? Check out the zoo’s five-part Backyard Habitat class series offered this spring (classes may be taken separately, or enjoy the whole series). You’ll learn from community partners about how to design your wildlife habitat, attract birds and other wildlife to your backyard, select and care for native plants, manage your backyard sustainably, and get your yard certified as a Backyard Habitat.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wonderfully Wild Wednesday: Toucan vs. hornbill

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Although toucans and hornbills look very similar, they are from two completely different families of birds. This is a great example of what is called convergent evolution. Toucans and hornbills are beautiful, fascinating creatures and throughout time, they have both adapted similarly to survive in similar ecological niches, despite the great geographical divide between them. Toucans reside in Central and South America, while hornbills are found only in Africa and Asia.

Toucan (left) and hornbill (right) look similar though they are unrelated. Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

They both play the role of forest omnivore, feeding on fruits, insects and small creatures, including bird eggs, lizards and young mice. Their similar bills come in handy when foraging for food. Both groups of birds nest in cavities. These large bills also play a part in protecting eggs and nestlings from potential predators.

So how do you tell them apart at a glance? Hornbills are easy to differentiate due to noticeable casques, the ridged structure on the bill. Researchers say this feature gives hornbills the ability to amplify their vocalizations in the rain forest.