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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

At last count, more than 260 babies were born at Woodland Park Zoo in 2013, and hey, there’s still a few hours left in the year! We may have had our hands full of cubs, chicks, pups and kits, but the year was also marked by many other new additions: from a new exhibit that transformed the oldest part of the zoo, to new conservation programs that fight for a future for wildlife.

Let’s take a look at the Top 13 zoo stories of 2013 that made us smile, made us care, and made us act to make a difference:

13.  Living with bears

Bears want cake. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Picnics aren't just for Yogi Bear—here in the Pacific Northwest, you may truly encounter a bear while hiking, picnicking or camping in the great outdoors, and sometimes even in your own backyard. What do you when a bear crashes your barbecue? Better yet, how can you make sure the bear never gets invited in the first place?

With the help of destructive grizzly brothers, Keema and Denali, we demonstrated bear safety tips with our conservation partner, Western Wildlife Outreach, during our popular Bear Affair: Pacific Northwest Conservation event in June. But perhaps some of the most memorable tips came from the music video we released with vocals by local singer Star Anna this year.

12. Behind-the-scenes with zookeepers

Zookeepers train animals like this wallaroo to be comfortable with exams. Photo: Wendy Gardner/Woodland Park Zoo.

Much of what zookeepers do to care for the animals at Woodland Park Zoo goes unseen. In 2013, we got to go behind the scenes with a number of keepers to see that hidden side of their work. We learned how wallaroos are trained to cooperate in their own medical health exams, and we saw what it takes to get a Komodo dragon its vitamins. Keepers shared with us the joys of the job, like hearing an 8,000-pound elephant purr with contentment when you arrive to work!

11. ZooCrew shaped the next generation of science professionals

In the last year, Woodland Park Zoo’s ZooCrew program for middle school students has taken off! Building the next generation of conservation leaders, the program is designed to give youth exposure to a wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers—including those here at the zoo. Students tried their hands at animal care, field conservation, science education and more at Woodland Park Zoo. We even recruited some students to write for the blog and develop videos like the one above to show that you can love the arts and being creative and still enjoy a successful career in conservation science. (Seriously, I still pinch myself at times that this is really my job!)

10. Community ensures future for zoo with levy support

Thanks for passing King County Prop 1 for your zoo! Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

There was much to celebrate on August 6 at Woodland Park Zoo—a giraffe calf was born as we learned the good news that our community came through with support and passed the King County Parks levy. More on the giraffe calf later in the countdown, but for now, let’s celebrate the impact your levy vote will have for your zoo! The support, from 2014-2019, will not only provide for the animal care, exhibit maintenance, environmental education and conservation programs that make yours a world-class zoo, but it will also provide access to underserved communities through the Community Access and School-to-Zoo Programs. You made this possible!

9. Wildlife trafficking crisis comes into focus

Photo courtesy of Tarangire Elephant Project.

On the heels of returning from a trip to Africa, President Obama issued an Executive Order in July to combat wildlife trafficking. The order pledges $10 million dedicated to protecting wildlife by training police officers and park rangers, a presidential task force to develop a national strategy for cracking down on systematic poaching networks, and a commitment to choke off demand for elephant ivory, rhino tusk and other animal parts. To keep momentum going, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed six tons of confiscated ivory representing thousands of elephants killed and sending a message: end the trade, save the elephants. We celebrated good news coming from our conservation partner, the Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania, whose expanded patrols led to the arrest of 10 poachers. At the same time, we expanded efforts in Malaysia to address the wildlife trafficking crisis impacting endangered tigers. This commitment from international governments and conservation organizations like Woodland Park Zoo and our partners, combined with the actions of people like you, will make a better future for wildlife. So much more is still to come this year and beyond. Sign up for ZooAction to stay informed of ways to help.

8. Chicks, man

According to your votes, this tawny frogmouth chicks totally looks like a dandelion.
Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Not to be outdone by the lions, jaguars and bears (oh my!), many of the birds around the zoo contributed to the baby boom in 2013. The Chilean flamingos gave us a break in the sea of pink with the hatching of fluffy, white chicks, while the endangered red crown cranes brought new hope into the world with a little male chick who stole hearts in the Temperate Forest exhibit. Perhaps the most memorable of the chicks is one who lives exclusively behind-the-scenes, yet manages to be a star. The tawny frogmouth chick, hatched as a little, white puffball, covered in downy feathers, gave us some fun when we asked you to vote on what it looks most like: a cotton ball, dandelion or tribble. With 53% of the votes, the tawny frogmouth totally looks like…a dandelion!

7. Man bitten by venomous snake saved by Woodland Park Zoo antivenin

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

Some of our top stories—the birth of animals, the opening of exhibits, the creation of new conservation programs—are the result of years of planning and careful work. This story—well, this one was a total surprise to us all when it happened. But thanks to quick thinking by medical experts and Woodland Park Zoo staff, the life of a man bitten by a venomous viper was saved by antivenin supplied by the zoo. The patient’s blood clotting improved dramatically within minutes of receiving the antivenin for a bite inflicted by a Fer-de-lance Bothrops asper while on vacation in Costa Rica—a bite that is known to cause death in humans. Wow!

6. New web cams show never-before-seen side of the zoo

Web cams showed us new angles on favorite exhibits and animals, like this Giraffe Baby Cam. 

For years you've tuned into the Bear Cam to watch grizzly brothers Keema and Denali. But this year, the bears made room for other stars with the launch of a new web cam series showing you behind-the-scenes angles you’d otherwise never see. It all started with a 24/7 look at an endangered tree kangaroo joey and its mother, both of whom live behind the scenes to ensure quiet and calm for these sensitive creatures. Then we spotlighted a nest of wild barn swallow chicks in the Raptor Barn. But it was the launch of our Giraffe Baby Cam giving you an insider look at the giraffe calf’s bedroom in the Giraffe Barn that brought in tens of thousands of viewers to watch a never-before-seen side of the zoo. The fun continues with a Bat Cam that lets you watch what the nocturnal flyers get up to at night—and who knows what’s next! Let us know what you’d like to see in 2014.

5. Celebrating the Living Northwest

Raised at Woodland Park Zoo, this turtle graduated into a new life in the wild this summer.
Photo: Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Northwest conservation had a banner year with the launch of Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest conservation program, uniting the zoo’s various conservation projects across the region focusing on native species restoration, habitat protection, wildlife education and human-wildlife conflict mitigation across the Pacific Northwest. Through the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, we graduated a class of turtles headstarted at the zoo into the wild. Oregon spotted frogs are having their moment in the national spotlight as the zoo and others urge for the protection of the species under the Endangered Species Act. New funding and expanded research will help us better understand how carnivores use our Northwest habitat, which will help us identify the best ways to protect them. These strategies improve the health of our wildlife populations, the health of our ecosystems, and the health of our communities.

4. Cubs galore

Jaguar cubs. Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Technically the lion and sloth bear cubs were born at the end of 2012, but we watched them debut and grow this year, so they count just as much as the jaguar cubs born in March as some of the greatest joys of 2013. The lion cub brothers have grown in little manes, while their two sisters take lioness lessons from their fierce momma, Adia. Sloth bear brother and sister, Randhir and Kushali, climbed to great heights and showed us how the vacuum cleaners of the tropical forest use their mouths for slurping up bugs, grapes and even peanut butter. Jaguar triplets, Kuwan, Arizona and Inka, have the run of Jaguar Cove. When they aren’t practicing their stealthy predator moves by slinking through the foliage and pouncing on mom, they are doing what all cats do…napping!

Sloth bear mom Tasha watches her tiny cub scale great heights. Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

These births all marked great contributions to the conservation breeding program called the Species Survival Plan that helps to maintain genetic diversity and builds a healthy future for these populations. As the cubs stole hearts, visitors learned about what is happening to the wild counterparts of lions, sloth bears, and jaguars, and were inspired to take action.

Lion cubs pile up for some mom time. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

You can do the same—become a ZooParent of your favorite cub and your adoption fee will not only support the care of the animals at the zoo, but a portion will also go directly to field conservation.

3. The tallest baby in town—a giraffe is born!

How could they call that face grumpy?! Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

He came into this world at 6 feet tall, but Misawa is still very much our little man. Born in August, this male giraffe calf was standing within an hour and a half, and was a national star 24 hours later. We watched his birth on video, and the press jumped on what they deemed the one-day-old’s grumpy face. But Misawa’s no grump. Over the past few months, we have watched this sweet-natured, goofy calf grow into a playful explorer. We kept up with his antics on the Giraffe Baby Cam and as the weather warms up and he spends more and more time out on the savanna, we’ll see what trouble fun he gets himself into with his gazelle and zebra neighbors. 

2. A commitment to saving tigers

Photo: Derek Dammann Photography, taken at Cincinnati Zoo.

We have less than 20 years to save the tiger, or say goodbye to it forever.  A world without tigers? We’re not willing to accept that, and we don’t have to with your help. This year, we announced that Woodland Park Zoo created a 10-year, $1 million collaboration with Panthera, the leading wild cat conservation group, the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and in-country tiger conservation experts to protect the endangered Malayan tiger. Of 42 Global Priority source sites, three are in Peninsular Malaysia’s central forest region where fewer than 500 Malayan tigers are struggling to survive. Together we will help carry out the Malayan government’s plan to double this number to a viable population level by 2022, the next year of the tiger, in and around the Taman Negara National Park, a pristine, 1,000,000-acre rain forest sanctuary.  We took you inside the forest with a look at the hard work volunteers do to detect and deter poachers and reclaim the forest for tigers. As we work towards completing a new Malayan tiger exhibit at the zoo in 2015, we’ll bring these stories of hope to life at the zoo and connect our million annual visitors with ways to take part and make a difference for tigers and their forests.

1. Otter mania

Otter pup takes its first steps outside, only to be escorted back inside by an overprotective dad. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

What a year for otters at Woodland Park Zoo! We debuted a state-of-the-art Asian small-clawed otter exhibit this year, the first phase of the Bamboo Forest Reserve exhibit that transforms the oldest remaining part of the zoo into an immersive, Asian tropical forest. It was your support that made this exhibit possible, and it was to be the summer of otters when the exhibit opened in May. But the otters missed that memo, as the pair, named Teratai and Guntur by a public contest, spent just one month on exhibit before giving birth and having to move off view temporarily! As far as we were concerned, this was only good news—the birth of four male pups marked a great success for the Species Survival Plan conservation breeding program. Born the weight of a golf ball and unable to swim, it was several weeks before we saw the otter pups debut. When they did emerge, overprotective dad Guntur had a hard time letting the pups get their feet wet. But as the family grew more comfortable outdoors and the pups more capable, the otters settled into their new exhibit and have become a highlight for visitors. We can’t wait to complete the Bamboo Forest Reserve exhibit in 2015 thanks to your support!

What were your favorite zoo memories of 2013?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Kid-at-heart member discount for WildLights

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Photo by Instagram user coachcarr

For zoo members who are truly kids at heart, we have the best WildLights deal yet! From Dec. 31 – Jan. 4, adult zoo members will be admitted to WildLights presented by KeyBank at the kids’ price, just $6.50 per person. (Offer only available for at-gate purchase with member ID; not available online.) See why WildLights brings out the kid in all of us!

Photo by Instagram user guerralandia

This kid-at-heart discount is offered just in time to celebrate Zoo Year’s Eve at WildLights. On Dec. 31, join Radio Disney Seattle at WildLights for entertainment, games, crafts, prizes, music, and a fun way to ring in the Zoo Year with the whole family. We’ll celebrate the new year at 7:00 p.m. so even the youngest among us has a chance to join in! PLUS: the first 200 kids through the door get a free party hat.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays to our pack

Posted by: Deborah Jensen, President and CEO

The holidays are a time to reflect on the wonders the year has brought us. All of us thank you for your generosity which has made Woodland Park Zoo's mission possible. Your support is the gift that keeps on giving, generation after generation.

We wish you the best for 2014, and hope you enjoy this short video highlighting some of the wonders you've helped us achieve.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Share the joy of the season with your loved ones—send a free Woodland Park Zoo holiday e-card. Browse the designs to get started on your paper-free cards.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Double Trouble Birthday Bash

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Happy Birthday, Randhir and Kushali! Our twin sloth bear cubs, born a year ago December 18th, celebrated their 1st birthday with shiny piñatas!

Sloth bear cubs reach for their birthday piñatas! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sloth bear birthday enrichment! Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Keepers filled three piñatas (including one for the cubs’ mom, Tasha) with meal worms and dried tropical fruits such as papayas and mangos. The piñatas were hung from the logs in the sloth bear exhibit just high enough that the bears had to resort to some pretty acrobatic moves to reach them. There was a lot of excitement, including a boxing match between one cub and a stubborn green piñata. After the cubs and mom knocked their piñatas to the ground, they were quick to tear open their presents and snuffle up their birthday treats!  
Staring longingly at a piñata is not always a bad tactic. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sloth bears are very agile, built for reaching high into logs and fruit trees piñatas. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Standing on two legs is not a problem for an energetic sloth bear cub, especially when birthday treats are involved. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Just one more little tug… Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Success! A face-full of birthday fancy. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
The rambunctious 1-year-olds have made quite the pair since debuting last spring in the Bamboo Forest Reserve exhibit. We’ve watched these two grow from tiny little squeals (literally, keepers could only hear them at first—it was a few weeks before we had visual confirmation of the twins) to the rough and tumble cublets they are today.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
Tasha certainly deserves a round of applause for not only being a wonderfully attentive mother, but for literally hauling these two around on her back. Turning one is a big deal for these growing bears, who appear to have mastered the piñata shuffle quite well.

Take a look at our favorite moments from their first year, which forever etched these puffballs into our hearts…

In January, 2013 we were happily surprised to find out, “It’s Twins!”
The cubs emerged from the den in April.
They showed us how to properly explore theirexhibit during spring.
And they spent the summer navigating logs and practicing their incredible climbing skills.

Happy 1st Birthday, Randhir and Kushali! 

Remember when the cubs were this tiny? Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Twas a Winter Celebration

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

‘Twas a celebration of winter, and all through the zoo
every creature was stirring (especially the ‘roos)!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Giant light bulbs were strung above the gray wolves with care,
in hopes that treats would fall for all four wolves to share.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo
Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

In the Bamboo Forest Reserve, a small-clawed otter climbed upstream.
Awaiting it at the top was a giant fir tree!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

And Priscilla, the anoa, was given a tasty green wreath,
which she nibbled on—so gently—with her two front teeth.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

When in Jaguar Cove arose a bright, white treat,
disguised as a snowman, three hungry jaguars dug into juicy meat!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Don’t worry, zoo fans. You haven’t missed out!
We have more enrichment coming soon—there's no need to pout.

Join us December 21-23 at Woodland Park Zoo
for three days of Winter Celebration (from 11 to 2)!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Monday, December 16, 2013

Congrats to the first Advanced Inquiry Program grads

Posted by: Jenny Mears, Education

Woodland Park Zoo is proud to announce the graduation of its first cohort of Advanced Inquiry Program Master's students! Offered in partnership with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Advanced Inquiry Program is a ground-breaking graduate degree focused on inquiry-driven learning as a powerful agent for social change, public engagement and ecological stewardship. These graduates' journey began two-and-a-half years ago, in graduate courses at the zoo along with web-based courses that connected them with a broad network of educators and community leaders from around the world.

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.
While these students may have decided to join the AIP to further their own education (or just because they wanted to hang out with animals at the zoo), ultimately, they empowered their audiences and their communities in the process, and are now making positive change in the world together. Collectively, these graduate students furthered their interest in connecting students to nature, creating schoolyard or backyard habitat and conserving local and global wildlife and habitats. These students also discovered a passion for teaching science, honed leadership skills, and fostered participatory learning through inquiry with audiences as young as kindergarten up through adults. With the zoo as their classroom, these graduates enriched their knowledge of the natural world as well as developed skills for engaging their audiences with its beauty, power, fragility, and need for conservation. As part of the Advanced Inquiry Program, these students also traveled on Earth Expeditions to conservation hotspots around the world. This graduating cohort traveled to Borneo, Australia, Namibia, Mongolia, Thailand, Belize, Hawaii, Guyana and Washington's Columbia Plateau. In these faraway and nearby places, these educators deepened their own ability to connect their audience with places they may never see, while broadening their own global understanding.

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.
Woodland Park Zoo held a festive graduation ceremony this month to celebrate this cohort's many achievements. The graduates, their families, and friends enjoyed a visit from a pharaoh eagle-owl and the Woodland Park Zoo penguin mascot! Wearing caps and gowns, they marched into the auditorium to Pomp & Circumstance to receive their Certificates of Completion. Following celebratory speeches by their Advanced Inquiry Program Advisors, graduates had the opportunity to share the impact that this program had on their personal and professional lives. They proclaimed growth in their teaching, ability to see themselves as leaders, greater depth of knowledge about the natural world, and inspiration to engage their audiences with its conservation. They taught us that there are many different ways to be a leader who engages people in stewardship of the natural world! Woodland Park Zoo is incredibly proud of these amazing educators with their new Master's degrees. We are certain these leaders will make great change in their communities!

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.

Interested in earning your Master's degree from Woodland Park Zoo? Applications for the next cohort of students is February 28, 2014.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Expanding Living Northwest carnivore research

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Science and Technology Program has awarded Woodland Park Zoo a generous two-year grant—a portion of which will help fund wolverine monitoring research in the North Cascades—as a part of the expansion of the zoo’s Living Northwest field conservation program.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest program uses hidden cameras that are triggered by the presence of animals to monitor wolverine and other carnivore activity in the North Cascades.
Photo: Woodland Park Zoo.

With the $240,000 grant, Woodland Park Zoo will continue to build the Living Northwest conservation program, which leverages zoo-based resources to carry out Pacific Northwest wildlife projects focusing on endangered species recovery, conservation science and community-based education.

“Woodland Park Zoo conducts leading conservation research in our region,” said Susan M. Coliton, Vice President of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Their work will lead to a better understanding of impacts on carnivore habitat and populations; and, importantly, a sharing of that information with the scientific community and the public.” 

Human, wolf and bear tracks.
Photo: Western Wildlife Outreach, a Woodland Park Zoo Living Northwest project. 

The first priority of the grant is to expand Pacific Northwest carnivore monitoring and research efforts launched this past summer by Dr. Robert Long, the zoo’s Senior Conservation Fellow. Carnivore conservation is a high priority for the zoo, in Washington state and worldwide, with global field projects focused on lions, snow leopards and tigers.

Wolverines are currently proposed to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act given their reliance on regions with deep snow, like the North Cascades of Washington state, and the threat of climate change. Under the direction of Dr. Long, and in partnership with the United States Forest Service, Woodland Park Zoo will continue developing monitoring protocols for wolverines using noninvasive techniques such as animal-triggered field cameras (commonly referred to as camera traps) and genetic research methods, such as hair sampling. 

Wolverine poster by USFWS, photo by Jason Matthews

The grant also provides the zoo support to help coordinate camera trapping efforts from wildlife research agencies and organizations across the Pacific Northwest. The Allen Family Foundation’s funding will also allow the zoo to assist the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service with the recovery of the fisher—a large member of the weasel family—in the Cascades of Washington state, where the species has been extirpated since the mid-1900s.

“We are extremely grateful that the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has chosen to fund Living Northwest and Dr. Long’s carnivore research,” said Dr. Fred Koontz, Vice President of Field Conservation. “Their generous support will allow Woodland Park Zoo to increase knowledge needed to conserve rare carnivores like the wolverine, and to help protect our local ecosystems that benefit the people and wildlife of Washington state.” 

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Science and Technology Program advances promising research and technological developments that have the potential to expand knowledge, improve health, and protect the environment. With the rapid pace of innovation in science and technology, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation strives to apply new ideas, discoveries, and information to complex regional and global challenges. 

Follow the progress of this research and more from the Living Northwest program and learn how to get involved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 10 reasons to visit WildLights

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Whether it's your first time or a return to an annual tradition, a visit to WildLights presented by KeyBank this year will bring more lights, more animals and more fun to your holidays! You might say there are 575,000 sparkling reasons to come to WildLights, but what other activities can you look forward to during your visit?

Here are the top 10 experiences you can't miss at WildLights this year!

1. See the all new and classic light displays

Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Approximately 575,000 energy-efficient LED lights recreate wild animals and wild places in two and three dimensions along the zoo’s pathways and North Meadow. An animated display of nature’s wonder is woven into the zoo’s famous greenery inspired by exotic destinations from across the globe.

Last year’s favorite displays, Northern Lights, The Water Hole and Jungle Lights, are joined this year by all new displays: Monkey Business, Glow-rillas, Komodo Crossing, Eagle’s Nest and Grizzly Creek. Now you can complete a full loop around the northern end of the zoo and see nearly twice as many lights! Download the event map

2. Have an indoor snowball fight in Snowmazium

Snowball fight! Photo: notprunes/Instagram

Family winter fun! Build a snow creature, create a sustainable craft to take home, hear a snow story—and watch out, a snowball fight can break out at any time!

3. Take a night ride on the carousel

Carousel at night. Photo: Chasitykay/Instagram.

The festively lit carousel is open nightly for WildLights guests ($2 per ride)

SPECIAL OFFER: Get a free carousel ride with voucher from KeyBank
Enjoy a free ride on the zoo’s Historic Carousel at WildLights presented by KeyBank with a free ride voucher available at select KeyBank branches, while supplies last.

Quantities are limited, limit of four (4) carousel coupons per residence. Vouchers available only at select KeyBank branches. Carousel vouchers are good at WildLights only, valid 12/6/13 through 1/4/14.

4. Meet the reindeer

Meet the reindeer. Photo: Cassiesnow/Instagram

Stop by the north end of the zoo to meet two special visitors exclusively for WildLights guests, a pair of reindeer! Look for the reindeer shelter nearby the zoo's Historic Carousel.

5. Shop the Ornament Forest for holiday gifts

Ornament Forest. Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Don't miss out on the most unique gifts you can find for the animal lovers in your pack! Pick up nature-inspired holiday decor and gifts for all ages at the ZooStore and outpost locations. Find more zoo holiday gift ideas.

6. Get your holiday photos taken

Photo: akcurry/Instagram.

Have your holiday photos taken professionally at our festive sleigh set-up (additional fee). More of a DIYer? Take your own holiday selfies with one of our mascots! Either way you go, you're sure to have the most unique holiday photos to share with your loved ones!

7. Visit zoo animals at night

Basket o' meerkat. Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

While the zoo’s animals will be tucked in for the night, the Day Exhibit, a showcase of reptiles and amphibians, will be open, offering another indoor venue for the chilly evenings. The north portion of the Adaptations Building will be open for guests to view meerkats and nocturnal animals such as sloths and Indian flying foxes. Experience WildLights Friday through Sunday and enjoy an evening keeper talk at the Raptor Barn, showcasing the zoo’s many birds of prey.

8. Warm up with a festive snack

Hot chocolate. Photo: Amelia Wells/flickr.

Look for hot chocolate, freshly made, hot fudge puppies, and other delicious treats available for purchase at food kiosks located around grounds and at the Pacific Blue Chowder House.

Covered seating will be available at the Pacific Blue Chowder House for when your hot chocolate needs your undivided attention.

9. Enter the photo contest

2012 photo contest entry. Photo: thefoxtronaut/Instagram.

Capture those bright smiles and twinkling lights for a chance to win big prizes! Enter your photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using #wpzwildlights to be automatically entered to win, Nov. 29 - Jan. 5. Get complete details on entry, prizes and rules. 

10. Enjoy the spirit of the season

Carolers at WildLights. Photo: klpm/Instagram.

Listen for the songs of carolers ringing through the zoo each evening and get into the spirit! Whether you are starting up, diving into, or wrapping up your holiday season with a visit to WildLights, you can't help but feel joyful when you're here.

We can't wait to see you at WildLights! Buy your tickets in advance and don't forget to share your photos and experiences with us. Happy holidays, all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Break out of hibernation for Winter Celebration

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

You spend all that time decorating the tree, and then a grizzly comes along and gobbles it up.

Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Well, hopefully not at your house, but that’s exactly what happens at Woodland Park Zoo’s Winter Celebration, Dec. 14-16 and Dec. 21-23. Break out of hibernation and join us for some holiday-themed treats for the animals. They'll much on decorated wreaths and evergreen trees, and tear into gift wrapped boxes filled with favorite foods.

Greet your loved ones with a snowy otter, one of several free e-card designs.
Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

'Tis the season for sharing, so invite a friend to join you by sending a free Woodland Park Zoo holiday e-card! Browse from several designs and get started on making your tree-free card today.