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Showing posts from September, 2013

Baby giraffe gets a name!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

You can still call him “cutie,” but our nearly 8-foot-tall, 7-week-old baby giraffe now has an official name: Misawa (me-SAW-wah).

The name was selected by the current class of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine students. The zoo works with the WSU program to mentor the next generation of wildlife veterinarians. What better way to honor that connection than by letting them name one of the most beloved ambassadors of the next generation of zoo animals?

The students chose the name Misawa, a common greeting in an indigenous Luo language from Tanzania and southwest Kenya, to honor the giraffe’s native range. It’s an especially fitting connection, given the school’s dedication to human and wildlife health through their Global Animal Health programs in east Africa, a region native to giraffes like Misawa.

Woodland Park Zoo and WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine have a longstanding partnership in developing critical researc…

Baby viper goes back to school

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by: Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo

It's back to school these days, and even our baby eyelash palm pit viper is ready with school supplies. Here are seven tips for a successful school day, according to our pencil-loving snakeling.

1. Always bring your favorite pencil.
This baby eyelash palm pit viper, born August 23, weighs about 0.1 ounces (2.9 grams). We brought a pencil to the photo shoot to help show scale, and that pencil quickly became the property of this little snake.

2. Protect your pencil at all costs.
Eyelash palm pit vipers are ovoviviparous, which means they give birth to live young, instead of laying eggs. This snakeling is certainly a live wire!

3. Pay attention or you’ll get tangled in knots.
Handling a baby eyelash palm pit viper is dangerous. They are venomous; do not play with snakes and pencils. Our keeper, Alyssa, was holding the pencil with a special tool for handling venomous snakes.

4. Hang in there! 
Bothriechis s…

Young Komodo dragons move into new digs

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Even dragons start out small. Have you seen the two Komodo dragon juveniles now living at the Adaptations Building at the zoo? Born in January at the Memphis Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan for this endangered species, the duo moved here this summer to be raised in our ample dragon digs.

Hard to imagine these tiny critters, who each weigh in at about one-and-a-half pounds (650 grams), will one day be as big as our 15-year-old male Selat, who is 110 pounds (50 kilograms). Though, they won’t reach adult size until they're about 7 to 10 years old!

Once these dragons mature, they’ll continue to participate in the Species Survival Plan and may move on to other zoos if they are matched up with a partner for breeding.

It’ll be some time before they are ready for that next step. For now, the juveniles are on view next door to Selat. We've built a little apartment for them inside one of the Komodo dragon exhibits that’s just right for…

Elephant Appreciation Day: News from the field

This Elephant Appreciation Day, we check in with Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife, the Tarangire Elephant Project on news from the conservation frontlines. Here they report in from the field on their growing involvement in elephant territories beyond the borders of Tarangire National Park:

In the past year we have become more involved in new territory: the Makame Wildlife Management Area (WMA), to the southeast of Tarangire National Park. This is a vast area, nearly 1.2 million acres in size (almost two times larger than Tarangire National Park), which is arid, hot, and sparsely populated. Wildlife Management Areas are community lands that have been set aside for wildlife conservation and tourism, in order to encourage communities to promote conservation and benefit from the natural resources on their land. Makame is of particular interest to us because it harbors an elephant population that migrates to Tarangire National Park in the dry season. However, unlike the other elephan…

How to make elephant poo paper

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications
Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

With a combined diet of nearly 300 lb. of food per day, it’s a little surprising that our three female elephants produce about 900 lb. of waste daily! And what better is there to do with 900 lb. of poo than make paper?

In the Banda Hut of the zoo’s African Village, visitors are transforming elephant dung into one-of-a-kind stationery. Beginning with the raw product of elephant poo, zoo staff steam-clean the fibrous poo balls at 160 degrees to eliminate all bacteria. Once cleaned, the poo greatly resembles hay. You see, although each elephant intakes 100 lb. of food daily, only about 40 percent of it is digested for energy. As for the rest, well, it comes back out the other end…

The steamed poo is mixed with a gray, paper pulp, an important ingredient in poo paper-making created by mixing old, shredded zoo maps with water. The old maps are shredded, stripped and soaked in water to break down. Recycling …

Sketching Animals mobile tour

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Welcome to one of the best locations to practice sketching and drawing animals. Whether you are a novice or a practiced artist, Woodland Park Zoo offers hundreds of opportunities to polish your skills.

Ready to get started? Download our free Woodland Park Zoo mobile app (for iOS and Android), visit the Maps tab, then tap on Tours to find the Sketching Animals GPS-guided zoo tour.

On the tour, you’ll be prompted to work on a few different facets of sketching throughout the zoo. You may choose to spend a couple minutes on each prompt or spread the tour out over a few days if you like. With so many muses, you are bound to leave with some beautiful artwork as well as a deeper connection with your subjects.

The tour explores 5 different phases of sketching including: gestural drawing, details, landscape elements, mark-making and color. Follow the prompts to get started and be sure to share your work with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #w…

Tiny lab for teensy snails gets a colossal makeover!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

If you’ve been to Bug World lately, you may have noticed a very cool addition across the path! Our tiny Tahitian Partula snails have a teensy, new lab!

The rout of tiny endangered tree snails has moved out of Bug World and across the path to their brand new lab. The snail lab was completed this summer, and all of the residents seem quite at home in their new digs.

Erin Sullivan, collection manager, tells us a little more about the new lab.

Why do the snails need their own space?
The Partula snails living at Woodland Park Zoo’s lab are very special—they are extinct in the wild. Our zoo is one of the zoo’s participating in the captive breeding efforts for the Partula nodosa, so it is very crucial that these little snails thrive. We needed a special and secure space for our lab work and optimal breeding conditions for the snails.

Woodland Park Zoo works cooperatively with five others zoos to breed Partula with the hope of eventually reintroducing t…

Giraffe cam takes a licking

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Looks like our baby giraffe spotted the web cam in his barn. His curious licks were caught in extreme close up on the cam—check out that tongue!

Video: Baby giraffe webcam taste-a-thon
The cam was always safely secured, but it sure did take a licking!

Some of our dedicated giraffe cam viewers even caught him in the act while watching live:

We'd love to know what you see when you tune into the giraffe baby cam. Send your best screenshots and observations to, tweet or Instagram to @woodlandparkzoo (#giraffecam), or post to our Facebook timeline

And of course, don't miss the chance to see the calf in person! He has access to the outdoor area of the giraffe barn daily, and tends to head out there mid-mornings through afternoons.

We know the next big piece of news you all are waiting for is his official name! We should have something to share on that front shortly. Check back soon!

Komodo dragon sunbathing

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

A sun bathing dragon is not something you see every day, unless you work at Woodland Park Zoo!

When most people think of Komodo dragons, they think of a dangerous creature with venomous bacteria filled saliva, sharp claws and tough scales. But, Komodos have a sensitive side, especially when it comes to their sunbathing needs!

Video: Go behind the scenes at the Komodo dragon exhibit. Produced by Kirsten Pisto/WPZ
In this new video, exhibit attendant Jordan Veasley and zoo experiences team member Sam Retic find out how a Komodo dragon soaks up the rays at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. They meet up with zookeeper Peter Miller who takes them behind the scenes to get up close with a sunbathing dragon.

Part of our job here at the zoo is to study the health of these reptiles, especially when it comes to sun exposure and vitamin D absorption. Working with these dragons is very rewarding. When we see them cooperate with our training and animal care, we kn…

ZooParent photo contest winner announced

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Congratulations to our ZooParent photo contest winners, Paul and Hannah DaRosa, whose Ottie the Otter took a big trip to their wedding for a series of photos worthy of the grand prize!

Thanks to all who entered and had some fun with their ZooParent plushes!

Become a ZooParent today. You can pick your favorite animal or select the seasonal special—jaguars! The special is also now available at ZooStores and makes the perfect gift.

Your adoption helps support the daily care of the animals at the zoo, and $5 of the adoption goes directly to wildlife conservation in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Flamingo chicks add to the baby boom

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

There’s been a break in the sea of pink over at the flamingo exhibit. In the past week, we've had six tiny, white puffs in the form of flamingo chicks hatch out on exhibit. Generally, we let the chicks stay on the nest for the first five days, where they are well looked after by their parents. But once they become a bit more mobile and are ready to head out of the nest, we bring the chicks and their parents behind the scenes where they can get through the first few weeks of rearing together in a more protected environment.

Ideally the flamingo parents will feed and raise the chicks on their own. Some are first time parents and others are experienced. Zookeepers watch over the young families very closely, and are ready to step in to incubate eggs or rear chicks if it looks like any of the families are in need of a little help.

So far, all of the parents are doing a good job. The first week or two are the most critical to make sure the c…