Skip to main content

We otter thank you

Posted by: Bamboo Forest Reserve team

A huggable Asian small-clawed otter mascot greeted children at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday and grand opening celebrations on Saturday. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Zoo fans of all stripes shared an otterly huge success story last Friday. Hundreds of donors, zoo members, public officials, families and children gathered to celebrate Bamboo Forest Reserve Day, officially declared by members of the Seattle City Council. A swift snip of the vine signaled the official opening of our newest exhibit to an eager and deserving community.

L-R: King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert; Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden, King County Councilmember and zoo board member Larry Phillips; Jennifer Carter and Louisa Malatos, representing the Joshua Green Foundation; Nancy Pellegrino, WPZ Board Chair; Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles; Deborah Jensen, WPZ President and CEO; Bill Bryant, Seattle Port Commissioner, and Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rassmussen. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ
SNIP! Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ

But what’s really special about this story is you! YOU made it happen. The Bamboo Forest Reserve is a true zoo-community accomplishment, funded entirely by private philanthropy, membership earnings and contributions from the business community, all in the context of a strong public-private partnership with the City of Seattle. So far, more than 1,000 supporters from all walks of life in our community have made gifts to The Asian Tropical Forest campaign initiative, which is transforming old exhibits to new naturalistic wonders in the heart of the zoo.

Nancy Pellegrino, WPZ Board Chair, thanks the many generous supporters who helped bring phase one of the Bamboo Forest Reserve to life. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.

Some of our youngest donors, social entrepreneurs in the making, so love Asian small-clawed otters, Malayan tigers and sloth bears that they have sold lemonade or held auctions to raise money to help realize the vision. Others, whose wallets may be just a wee bit bigger, made leadership giftsinvestments that really got the project off the ground and inspired countless others to get involved. To wit, more than 700 others joined our Give Ten for Tigers campaign last May, which along with a generous gift from the Joshua Green Foundation, helped us raise the final funds for phase one just in the nick of time, allowing us to begin construction on phase one of the Bamboo Forest Reserve.

One of our two small-clawed otters takes in the lush view from a rocky perch. We hope the otter pair will start a family soon. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.

We are also tremendously grateful to our media partner, KING5, for running Evening Magazine stories and television spots which provide sneak peeks to millions of viewers and encourage them to join our campaign.

Video: Latest KING5 television spot.

Phase one is the first chapter in an amazing new wildlife experience. As featured in recent blog posts, it showcases a small-clawed otter exhibit, a colorful and sonorous tropical aviary, and a new nature-play area.

Think Zoomazium but outdoors. The new nature-play area, next to the otter exhibit and tropical aviary, is specially designed to provide our youngest adventurers fun and whole-body learning experiences. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.

Rounding out the exhibit’s immersion experience are plenty of up-close keeper talks and engaging educational activities, all making the science of forest ecosystems, natural history and species conservation come alive in fun ways.

We’re still raising funds for phase two which, when completed, will add new, state-of-the-art naturalistic exhibits for endangered Malayan tigers and sloth bears, and a new Conservation Action Centerthe first of its kind at the zoo.

When completed, phase two will get you closer-than-ever to sloth bears and endangered Malayan tigers, and will provide you ways to take direct action to save tigers in the wild. Rendering by MIR.

Because of you, over its lifetime the entire 2-acre Bamboo Forest Reserve will immerse millions of people in a compelling story about the wonders of tropical Asian forests, inspiring zoo fans all ages to save wildlife and forest ecosystems there as well as to protect our own cherished wonders in the Northwest.  

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Thank you for creating More Wonder and More Wild!