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Showing posts from March, 2014

Littlest otters get practice time outside

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Guntur, the infamously over-protective otter dad, has finally let the newest pups take their first steps outside!

The four pups—three girls and one boy born in January—have only had a few tiny adventures outdoors so far. Though they step out for only a few minutes at a time, the good news is that dad seems to be getting more comfortable each time.

It helps a lot that the pups’ have a dedicated family that also includes mom and four older brothers to show them the way.

Sometimes that means moving the pups around…

…and sometimes that means letting the pups figure out their own way.

The pups aren’t yet the most coordinated little movers, but they’re quite capable of planting themselves into prime snacking position, which we learned when keepers gave them some grubs outdoors.

Video: Otter pups venture outdoors.
Keep in mind if you’re planning a visit that the otters’ time outside is still quite irregular. Tho…

New strategic vision for elephant program

Posted by: Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO

Elephants have long played a role in the community and in our hearts. At Woodland Park Zoo, we have cared for elephants since we received our first one in 1921, funded in part by donations from local school children. 

I am pleased to announce that the zoo will commit $1.5 to $3 million to strengthen the Asian elephant program at the zoo, as well as play a key role in multiple elephant conservation arenas.
This pledge follows a six-month, critical and thorough external review of the zoo’s elephant program by the Elephant Task Force—a panel of local community representatives and internationally-distinguished scientists and animal care professionals—and a review of the Task Force’s report by the zoo’s Board of Directors and staff.
The new strategic direction of the zoo’s elephant program endorses many of the options given to the zoo by the Elephant Task Force, plus additional information regarding the zoo’s elephants, elephant conservation …

Upcycled Wild Craft Contest

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

As we countdown to Party for the Planet coming up April 5-13, it’s time to kick-off the earth-friendly event with a contest!

Transform trash into treasure for the zoo’s Upcycled Wild Craft Contest. Use non-recyclable items including bottle caps, old furniture or food packaging to make artful creations that reduce waste and look wild!
Contest entries will be judged in the following age categories: Ages 5-8 Ages 9-13 Ages 14-18 Ages 19 + up 
Entries will be accepted March 29 – April 11. Drop yours off at the zoo’s West Entrance with a completed entry form. All entries will be displayed in the zoo’s West Plaza and on Woodland Park Zoo’s Pinterest board.

One winner will be selected in each age group and receive a Real Close Tour for two people and an upcycled item from the zoo’s Conservation Commerce. One of the four winners will be chosen as the overall winner and win an upgraded Conservation Commerce item.

Upcycling is just one way to keep trash…

Road trip: four states, two lions

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

Traveling across the country with animals in tow is a regular experience for our dedicated zookeepers, but when curator Martin Ramirez offered me the chance to tag along and document the move of two African lions, I jumped at what for me was a once-in-a-lifetime road trip!

This map traces the 16-hour route we traveled this month to deliver maturing lionesses Busela and Nobuhle to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City—all part of the Species Survival Plan conservation breeding program that will eventually pair them with two mates in their new home.

Long before the road trip ever began, keepers and vet staff worked closely with the animals to prepare them for the transition with crate training, diet prep and health checks planned for before, during and after the move. The animal care staff is dedicated to ensuring these trips are as quick and stress-free as possible for all passengers, which also means re…

Jaguar cubs tear into 1st birthday treats

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

Happy almost 1st birthday, Kuwan, Arizona and Inka! Though the official day is March 22, the jaguar cubs got an early treat this morning—birthday piñatas scented in curry and perfume.

Following the trail of the enticing scents, the cubs quickly spotted and went after the decorations. Almost immediately “Happy Birthday” became “Happ Birthday” when Kuwan took down the turtle piñata on the end.

Predator instincts kicked into full gear as the jaguars stalked, pounced on, and tore into their piñatas.

The cubs also smashed and rubbed against the perfumed “Birthday” letters, but spent most of their energy on destroying the turtles.

At nearly 1 year old, sisters Inka and Arizona, and their brother, Kuwan, are a lively trio. The young cats’ daily antics include pouncing, prowling and endless play, pausing only to re-energize with cat naps and hearty meals. 

Jaguars are naturally solitary an…

Otter pups receive first check-up

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Four new otter pups at Woodland Park Zoo received a clean bill of health today during their first, hands-on wellness exam. The Asian small-clawed otter pups—three females and one male—were born to 4-year-old mother Teratai and 8-year-old father Guntur on January 20.

The zoo’s newest additions underwent a thorough neonatal exam to check their ears, eyes, mouths and overall development. Each of the otter pups just barely tipped the scales at 1.2-1.5 pounds, a healthy size for their 8-week-old frames. Exam results indicate all four pups are growing healthily as expected.

Since the pups' birth, the parents and four older brothers have all pitched in to build their den nest, provide support and, most recently, teach the pups to swim in a behind-the-scenes pool.

Video: Otter pup swim practice behind the scenes. Footage by Pam Cox, produced by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo. 
With behind-the-scenes swimming lessons under their belts (pelts?),…

Making green skies safer for raptors

Posted by: Bettina Woodford, Communications

Video produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Peregrinations A delicate spring dew has settled on the shrub steppe of the Columbia Basin. Raptors, migrating through the Pacific flyway from distant wintering grounds, have alighted here, driven by eons of instinct to breeding areas where a potential buffet of small mammals, such as ground squirrels and pocket gophers, awaits. Heeding the juveniles’ endless squawks, for several weeks dutiful parents will bring meat, day after day, for gaping beaks to tear into. The raptors’ main business here is to raise healthy young and ready them to fledge, egging the species on one season at a time. 
Fewer prey scurry about this landscape today, however. As ranches, farms, towns and paved roads have grown in number, more than 50% of previously undeveloped shrub-steppe habitat, a raptor haven, has disappeared. This hybrid environment makes survival harder for the large, long-lived birds at the top of the foo…

Jaguar triplets about to turn one

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The big “1” is just around the corner for the jaguar cubs.

That’s right, Kuwan, Arizona and Inka turn 1 year old next week on March 22. A lot has happened for these cubs in just one year, like:

Babies’ first day outside
Babies’ first swim
Babies’ first snowman
They may still be little ones in our hearts, but the truth is, we’re not dealing with babies anymore. Looking to the natural history of the jaguar, by one year of age cubs are typically ready to leave their mom. They may stay with their siblings for a time as they mature, and then ultimately they move on to a solitary lifestyle.

Providing the best care for growing animals means looking for clues to know when they are ready for natural next steps. Keepers have been observing the jaguars closely and we have seen in recent weeks that not only are the cubs fully independent of mom, but mom is clearly ready for some quality alone time!

That means it’s time to readjust their living arrangeme…