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Showing posts from July, 2014

Happy first birthday, Misawa!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


As giraffe calf Misawa nears his first birthday, coming up on August 6, we look back at a year of firsts for our not-so-little guy.

The first look 
Everyone remembers the first photo we shared of Seattle’s tallest baby—the infamous “grumpy” look on his face turned Misawa into a viral sensation. But in truth, the very first look at Misawa we got was in the incredible footage of his birth!

Mom Olivia gave birth to the 6-foot-tall giraffe on August 6 at 7:03 p.m. The labor lasted about 1.5 hours and the video shows little Misawa finding his feet and standing for the first time just 1.5 hours after he was born!


Video: Tallest baby in Seattle. 
The first day outside  The first few days were spent nursing and bonding with mom inside the Giraffe Barn, but it wasn’t long before Misawa ventured into the outdoor area of the barn. Mom Olivia and Aunt Tufani were never too far from his side—and often right on top of him!


The first taste  Though he was still nursi…

How do you heal a sore goat?

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications


Hot packs, ice treatment, massage, exercise ball, laser therapy…is this a physical therapy session? Close, but not for a human patient. These applications are part of a physical rehabilitation session for a domestic goat living at Woodland Park Zoo.

The goat, a 7-year-old male named Waldo, is undergoing physical rehabilitation to help alleviate pain and improve his range of motion. Last year, Waldo was becoming more reluctant to move and showing signs of front and rear limb weakness. Following a thorough assessment by the zoo’s animal health team, which revealed compressed disks in his neck and lumbar spine, the goat was put on a physical rehabilitation program as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.


Video: Goat. Laser beams. Yoga ball. Produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
At the zoo, physical rehabilitation is used to help alleviate discomfort from an injury or surgical treatment, to improve circulation or range of motion and coordinatio…

Young zookeeper in training

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications


Sure, the plaque is nice. But the real prize in receiving the Future Zookeeper Award for 9-year-old Karina is the official Woodland Park Zoo name badge that reads simply, "Karina, Future Zookeeper." Her eyes lit up when she received this badge of honor at yesterday's annual zookeeper picnic, part of the zoo's National Zookeeper Week celebrations.


Many of the most memorable visitor experiences at Woodland Park Zoo come from connecting with the animals we've grown to know and love. It’s where Karina’s adoration for elephants took hold nearly seven years ago and, to her surprise, where an unlikely friendship continues to grow with every return to the zoo's Elephant Forest.


Often overshadowed by the magnificence of our trunked trio is a dedicated team of keepers that care for our elephants day in and day out—but their commitment is never overlooked by Karina. It’s her connection to our keepers that makes her a part of…

Together we can end the ivory trade in Washington state

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


End the ivory trade before it ends elephants.

To stop the slaughter of elephants, we must stop the trade. To stop the trade, we must end the demand. Watch this video to see what's at stake:


It's time to raise your voice and let Washington state leaders know you pledge never to buy, sell or trade ivory, and you want a moratorium on ivory sales here. Add your name to the list of thousands speaking up for wild elephants. Then on August 12—World Elephant Day—we'll deliver your pledges to our state leaders to make a big impression. Thank you!



Video produced by Rebecca Whitham, elephant photo courtesy of Mustafa Hassanali/Tarangire Elephant Project, music by Tchakare Kanyembe.

10 Gorillas, 3 Groups, 2 Exhibits

Posted by: Stephanie Payne, Zookeeper


With 10 gorillas making up three social groups living in two on-view exhibits, it can be challenging for visitors to keep up with the gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo—especially with all the moves and changes over the last few years.

Several of the changes were influenced by recommendations from the national gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), a group of gorilla specialists that makes breeding recommendations and gorilla transfers based on the genetic diversity and wellbeing of the approximately 340 gorillas in accredited North American zoos.

Let’s explore the dynamics of each of the gorilla groups to help you understand which gorilla is where and why. Then we’ll share tips on when and where to look for the gorillas to make the most of your visit.

We start with Group 1’s Nina and Pete—the bedrocks of Woodland Park Zoo’s gorilla program.



Who is in Group 1? Pete and Nina, our oldest gorillas and lifetime residents, currently occupy the largest exhibit…

Celebrating 41 penguin chicks

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor



Our Humboldt penguins are a prolific bunch. Since 2010—the first breeding season in their new exhibit—our colony has produced 41 chicks! Earlier in the season, we were counting up eggs (yes, before they hatched) and got excited when we realized we were going to reach an historic 40th hatching. And though we love our round numbers, we won’t complain that one more egg was laid and number 41 came along at the end of May.


This season alone, we had nine chicks hatch, with six already fledged and out on exhibit, and the three youngest—numbers 39, 40 and 41—still on the nest with their parents. These hatchings are all part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) conservation breeding program across Association of Zoos & Aquariums-accredited zoos. Zoos work together through the SSP to maintain the genetic diversity and demographic health for this vulnerable species. With 41 healthy hatchings in just 4 years, Woodland Park Zoo is one of the most successful par…

Rose Garden teeming with color

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


One of Woodland Park Zoo’s not-so-secret spaces is actually adjacent to the zoo itself, the WoodlandPark Rose Garden. Established as a civic garden in 1922, the 2.5 acre space is cared for and kept by the zoo’s horticulture staff and our Lead Rose Gardener and rose-master, Matt Manion. The garden hosts nearly 200 varieties of roses, showcasing those that thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate.


Since 2006, the Rose Garden has been pesticide free. Pesticides pollute through rain runoff in Seattle, making it all the way to Puget Sound. Plus, we like to treat our animals to roses, and we wouldn't want them ingesting those toxins. Using the natural approach means building healthy soils, practicing smart watering and planting disease-resistant varieties. 
Matt says that these sustainable methods will work well in your own garden too. This time of year, he suggests that rose aficionados spend time dead-he…

How Towan gave “Rise” to Maurice the orangutan

Posted by: Andy Antilla, Zookeeper



For those of us who work with Towan, the oldest male orangutan in North America, we've always known that he's a special guy. Now, people all around the world will see much of his personality come to life on the big screen when “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” hits theaters this month. That’s because Karin Konoval, the actor who plays Maurice the orangutan in the new Planet of the Apes films, studied and drew her inspiration from our big guy.


At 46 years old, Towan and his twin sister Chinta have lived their entire lives at Woodland Park Zoo. They were both hand-raised by humans and show great interest in people, especially the regular visitors that come to see them in the zoo’s Trail of Vines exhibit.


Actor Karin Konoval is one of those regular visitors. It’s easy to see why she and others are drawn to Towan. He is wise, strong willed, enjoys attention, loves to manipulate objects, and is also artistic. For many years he's been given pai…