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Showing posts from August, 2014

Northwest frog gets a hand from Endangered Species Act

Posted by: Fred Koontz, Vice President of Field Conservation, and Jennifer Pramuk, Animal Curator An Oregon spotted frog is released into protected wetlands after being raised at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo. Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told this little frog we've got its back. Woodland Park Zoo applauds the USFWS on its official decision to extend federal protection to the Oregon spotted frog as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This big move will go a long way in making recovery possible throughout the Oregon spotted frog’s northwest range. An adult Oregon spotted frog. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo. Once common and widespread in Puget Sound area wetlands, the Oregon spotted frog now inhabits 10% or less of its former range in the Pacific Northwest. That loss means more than just devastation to our native frog population. As Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Acting Supervisor, Tom

Gorilla Vip recovering from successful surgery

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications Zookeepers and animal health staff wheel Vip out of the zoo's animal hospital after the surgery is completed. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo. Last week, we asked for your best wishes for western lowland gorilla Vip , who has been battling a severe sinus infection. After last week’s CT scan and a critical surgery this week to treat his chronic sinus infection, the 35-year-old silverback is successfully breathing through his nose for the first time in weeks! Vip is steadily improving, and for now he is spending time behind the scenes at the gorilla exhibit, getting some extra TLC from his keepers. A peek through the door of the operating room at Woodland Park Zoo's animal hospital. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo. After the CT scan confirmed a complicated sinus infection, we realized the 425-pound patient would require sinus surgery to drain the blockage and physically remove the major

Mourning the loss of Watoto

UPDATE: As we all mourn the loss of Watoto, we ask that in lieu of flowers you help us honor Watoto’s memory by joining the 96 Elephants campaign to save African elephants in the wild from extinction. Take the 96 Elephants pledge at to tell state leaders we want an end to ivory sales in Washington. Share this with your friends. Thank you for helping us honor Watoto. Most days at Woodland Park Zoo are inspired by wonder and happiness given to us by our beautiful animals. Rarely are there days we write with sad news. Today we are unable to find words to make this easier for any of us. Watoto, photographed in June 2014. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. Earlier today, 45-year-old African elephant Watoto passed away in the care of our veterinary and animal care staff. Around 7:00 a.m., keepers found Watoto lying in the elephant yard, unable to return to her feet. After multiple attempts to help her stand up, a piece of equipment was brought in to

Health update on aging silverback gorilla

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications UPDATE: Vip is recovering from his CT scan, which revealed findings consistent with a severe sinus infection. We are working with a consultation team led by doctors from the University of Washington Department of Otolaryngology (ears, nose and throat) to plan for a near-future surgery to resolve this infection. We’re hoping for a positive outcome for Vip and are cautiously optimistic he’ll make a full recovery. Thanks for all the positive thoughts and well wishes—it means so much to us! Silverback Vip. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. Woodland Park Zoo’s 35-year-old silverback gorilla, Vip, will undergo a diagnostic procedure for treatment of a chronic sinus infection. “In recent days, Vip has shown signs of a complicated sinus infection,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Director of Animal Health at Woodland Park Zoo. “Vip has unfortunately not responded as expected to recent treatments, which are often effective in treating a mor

Celebrate World Orangutan Day

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor On this World Orangutan Day, we shout out to all the kids who left their handprints at the orangutan exhibit earlier this month as a pledge to save these endangered primates. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo. The activity, part of our Asian Wildlife Conservation Day celebrations, helped the next generation realize that the fate of orangutans is in their hands. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo. Orangutans are struggling to survive in the wild, their populations under threat by the loss of forests in Asia. We work with the  Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program (GPOCP), a Woodland Park Zoo  Partner for Wildlife , to address the conservation crisis in the field. Wild orangutan. Photo by Tim Laman. The main goal of GPOCP is to work with the communities surrounding Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park to foster sustainable stewardship of the area’s natural resources and build a future where orangutans and ot

The Underturtle: An underdog story

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor If Hollywood got its hands on the story of the endangered western pond turtle, we’d recognize all the tropes of a classic under dog turtle story, filled with struggle, redemption and hope. Woodland Park Zoo presents: The Underturtle . Because sometimes the underdog is a turtle. Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo. Knocked out by predators, loss of habitat and invasive species, the western pond turtle population hit a devastating low of 150 turtles in Washington in 1990. But now, this native species is poised for a comeback. For more than two decades, Woodland Park Zoo has partnered with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Zoo and others to give these turtles a fighting chance. As part of our Living Northwest conservation program , we collect their eggs from the wild, hatch and raise them in the safety of the zoo until they are large enough to avoid invasive predators, and release the turtles into local waterways to rebui

MyZoo kids rocked the Animal Observation contest!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications In June, we asked kids (ages 2-12) to take part in our Animal Observation contest . The participants were prompted to sit for 3 minutes to study an animal. During this time, the kids had to complete an ethogram (behavior chart) for the duration of the study. They carefully watched their subjects and then charted what they saw. They were also asked to take notes at the end of the observation as well as sketch their animal on the back of the paper. Field researchers use ethograms to document animal behavior. An ethogram is a chart which displays a list of possible behaviors as well as a timeline. Using this tool, researchers can quickly document the minute-by-minute actions and behaviors of an observation subject. Researchers also rely on sketching and drawing or photography to supplement their notes. Practicing backyard animal observations is a great way to introduce kids to conservation science. This activity promotes critical thinking,

Today we deliver your 96 Elephants pledges

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society. When it comes to wildlife conservation, numbers tell a powerful story: The international ivory trade fuels the killing of 35,000 African elephants a year. That’s 96 elephants killed each day, 1 every 15 minutes. The U.S. is among the largest ivory markets in the world, and we can’t put a complete end to it until we declare a moratorium on ivory sales in all 50 states. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society. But we have some numbers of our own to tally:  Since July, we sought to secure 960 signatures from Washingtonians pledging never to buy, sell or trade ivory and to support a moratorium on ivory sales in the state. On the very first day of our campaign, you beat our goal! Then the signatures kept rolling in and adding up. You signed, you shared, and now we deliver. Today we send all 3,540+ signatures to more than 30 state, county

Thank you, Seattle

Posted by: Kerston Swartz, Public Affairs and Advocacy This week, Seattle said YES to renew its commitment to 450 parks, 26 community centers, 185 athletic fields, 120+ playgrounds and one extremely thankful zoo. With the passing of Proposition 1, Woodland Park Zoo will be able to complete major maintenance projects critical to our functionality and guest experience. A stable and dedicated funding source established by creating a voter-approved park district means we can make badly-needed upgrades to our electrical, water and other utility systems, replace aging and inefficient structures and (maybe most importantly) make strides toward our sustainability goals. Here’s what your YES vote makes possible: Preventing energy loss The roof of the Tropical Rain Forest (TRF) building used to look like this: Look at all of that light coming through! Archive photo by Woodland Park Zoo.  Today, it looks like this: Not so much light coming through anymore. Photo by Ryan