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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kookaburra exhibit gets a beak-lift

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

…Or face-lift, you know, a makeover, remodel, renovation. Last spring, what started with some peeling paint and worn out walls in the kookaburra exhibit in Woodland Park Zoo's Australasia biome turned into a larger project. The exhibits crew spent the summer rebuilding the entire space.

Now, the exhibit's resident kookaburras, honeyeaters and masked plovers have settled back into their newly revamped digs, complete with a fresh coat of paint and luscious foliage.

Top: Honeyeater, bottom: Masked plover and right: Laughing kookaburra. Photos: Dennis Dow/WPZ. 

The crew did an awesome job designing a shallow wading pool for these birds that live near streams and marshes in their native Australia. They also installed proper lighting (with energy efficient light bulbs) for the collection of plants in the exhibit. Then the horticulture team added some beautiful vegetation that mimics an Australian forest, including grasses, undergrowth, pines, shrubs and vibrant flowering plants.

The birds were kept behind the scenes during the project. We missed seeing them, but it was worth the wait. Stop by the exhibit and check out the beautiful honeyeater, the graceful masked plover and our chuckling kookaburras, and let us know what you think of the remodel!

Here is a look at some of the elements in the project: 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

The exhibit technicians rebuilt the walls, installed a wading pool and painted a new mural around the entire space. Here, Bill is putting the finishing touches on the floor before horticulture comes in.

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

Horticulture planted an assortment of vegetation native to Australia. The diverse textures give the space depth and color interest. Here are three types of grevillea. The plants themselves appear dissimilar, but the flowers are what define the grevillea species. (Top: Grevillea victoriae, Murray Valley Queen. Right: Grevillea lavandulacea. Left: Grevillea ‘Fire Sprite,’ a cross between Grevillea longistyla and Grevillea venusta.

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

Leptospermum earned the nickname tea tree when early Australian settlers soaked the leaves in boiling water to make Vitamin C-rich tea. Rumor has it Captain Cook even brewed the tea to prevent scurvy on his ship. 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

An understory plant, Liriope spicata, or creeping lilyturf, is the perfect grassy ground cover for our exhibit. On the left, you can see the white berries it has in the fall and the lavender flowers in spring. 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

Callistemon, commonly known as bottlebrush, offers bursts of magenta. 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

Anigozanthos, a native Australian plant, is named for its resemblance to the paws of a certain Australian animal. Can you guess the common name? 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

It is hard to mistake the yellow and red "paws" of the kangaroo paw plant, like furry front paws of a kangaroo. 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

Kangaroo paw plant flowers after they bloom. 

Photo: Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.

And finally...the spruced up exhibit!

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