Skip to main content

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 Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

If you've ever walked into TRF from the outside on a cold day, the first thing you do is peel off clothing layers. That’s because the weather in TRF is kept at a warm and damp 70 to 80 degrees and about 85 percent humidity. Creating these tropical conditions requires a lot of temperature control, and having an aging roof is pretty much like opening a large window—energy seeps right out. It’s no surprise this infrastructure project is high on our list of must-dos, and with $1.8 million a year provided to the zoo by the park district, this project just moved from the “someday” list to the “right away” list.

Smarter energy use

Check out these side-by-side exhibits in our Adaptations Building:

Tropical forest treeshrews neighbor desert meerkats. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

On the right lives a family of meerkats, who spend their days scampering, burrowing and standing at attention. Meerkats are from the savannas and grasslands of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, native to harsh, hot and semi-arid environments.

On the left, meet the treeshrew. Native to tropical forest environments, the treeshrew lives in the hot, humid and wet climate of Southeast Asia. 

And down the hall in the same building, we’ve got the Komodo dragon, which inhabits hot, seasonally arid grassland, savannas and monsoon forests.

Maintaining these individual ecosystems for our animals is a constant balance. A temperature adjustment in one section of the building means another climate tweak a few doors down. Not only is this an endless challenge, but it’s also a very inefficient use of energy. Park district funding will help us purchase and install equipment to moderate spot temperatures throughout the Adaptations Building, keeping everyone inside comfortable and happy (including those adorable meerkats).

Better guest experience

Finally, park district funding will help us create better experiences for our guests.

Sure, take a look at Xerxes, but also, take note of the glass. It's in line for replacement thanks to your support. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

That’s a photo of Xerxes, our handsome South African male lion. Look closely and you’ll see Adia, our female lion, strolling between the rockery. Now, imagine seeing these magnificent animals through new, clear glass that’s bird-friendly to boot. Photographers get ready—we’ll be replacing exhibit glass around the zoo with our new funding.

There’s more. We’ll be installing water-conservation devices to help us maintain our beautiful grounds and manage our enormous tree canopy. We’re going to improve rock work in many of our exhibits to the delight of our amazing animals and curious visitors. Electrical systems upgrades to decrease the zoo’s draw on energy, combined with our new and existing solar projects, will take us many steps closer to reaching our sustainability goals. 

So, Seattle: a heart-felt thank you from everyone here at the zoo, including the meerkats, treeshrews, lions and Komodo dragons. Your support means everything to us. We look forward to many more years as your world-class zoo.


Anonymous said…
Taxpayers in Seattle deserve more transparency from the Zoo. Why does the Zoo refuse to tell taxpayers how our tax money is being spent?
We just released our 2013 report to the community on our reports page where you can find additional archived reports and information: