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Showing posts from September, 2014

What I learned on my summer vacation (in Africa)

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Conservation/Advanced Inquiry Program Zoology student at Miami University of Ohio and Project Dragonfly



As I prepared for my trip to Namibia, all the images from childhood television shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and Daktari flooded my mind. Would I see a cross-eyed lion? Would Marlin Perkins stand back while Jim went over to examine the deadly puff adder? It didn’t really matter; I was going to Africa—the place of my childhood (and adult!) dreams.

But this was no photo safari complete with luxury accommodations. This was an Earth Expedition to Namibia, part of Miami University of Ohio’s Project Dragonfly Master’s Degree program. I was going there to learn.


There was the requisite coursework like cheetah biology, community based conservation and education, and conservancy management, but what I really learned was something much more important: the wildlife we so closely associate with Africa is in serious decline.

Our base of operations was the Che…

Update: Gorilla Pete's Surgery a Success

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor



Thank you all for your well wishes for gorilla Pete, whose dental surgery to remove a premolar was a success! The 46-year-old silverback is already back in his exhibit and doing well. While he was under anesthesia, our animal health experts had a chance to give him a close exam and found Pete to be in good physical condition with no signs of significant cardiac disease—great news for our oldest gorilla.

Big thanks to our zookeepers and veterinary team for keeping Pete in great health for his old age—now if they can just figure out what to do about that growing bald spot of his!

ICYMI:See how keepers provide special TLC for aging Pete and his mate Nina in their golden gorilla years. 

What a way to celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


What do elephants need ivory for? 
Digging, lifting, pushing and defending.

What do people need ivory for?
Nothing.


Today is Elephant Appreciation Day and already 5,200+ of you have shown your support by taking the pledge to end the ivory trade in Washington state. With 3,000 additional signatures coming in from our friends at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, together we’re reaching out again to elected officials to ask them to consider sponsoring legislation.

The herd is being heard and we have the proclamation to show it! Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed today Elephant Appreciation Day in Washington state:

What a way to celebrate how far we have come in raising our voices for elephants! Let's keep the momentum going. Please share this post to your networks and encourage your friends to sign the pledge at www.zoo.org/96elephants. On behalf of the elephants, we thank you!

Good things come in three… flamingos!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications 
What is sweeter than a brand new downy-white flamingo chick? How about three! The tiny chicks hatched one after another on August 31, September 5 and the last one just a few days ago, September 16.
The chicks are being hand raised and hand-fed by a team of dedicated staff, ensuring a higher chance of survival. Several times daily, the chicks are fed a mixture of whole egg powder, a little corn oil, a calcium supplement, vitamin E and water, known as a chick “slurry!”
When the little chicks are old enough to eat on their own, in about 30 days, they will join the adult colony in the flamingo exhibit. The flamingo keepers also must exercise the chicks. 
The flamingo chicks practice swimming in the baby pool chick tub. Video by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
Leading an exercise session for three flamingo chicks might be the best job in the world. The keepers lead the chicks to an outdoor area where they are encouraged to walk and stretch to strengthen their tiny le…

The Golden Years of Gorilla-hood

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications
Everyone has their favorite animal at the zoo, or maybe even a few, but we’d venture to guess that heaps of you have an especially soft spot for our oldest gorillas, Pete and Nina.


The pair dines on Italian plums, a treat from their keepers. Video by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.

Walking by the west gorilla exhibit, you can’t help but check in on the wrinkled pair. Nina, famously posing with her trademark stick and pink tongue, greets her visitors with a curious eye for people watching. Her attention to visitors has endeared her to hundreds of thousands of guests. Everyone knows her. The tiny, grandmotherly-gorilla seems to be the most adored among our youngest guests; and may have singlehandedly taught the children of Seattle how to stick out their tongues. (Sorry, moms). Pete, with his silver hair and balding head, has stuck by Nina’s side for all her 46 years. The gentleman of gorillas, his keepers say Pete is polite and appreciative of any attention he re…

Woodland Park Zoo soaks up the sun

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications
Past the zoo’s LEED Gold-certified West Entrance and around the corner from the sustainably built Humboldt penguin exhibit, Woodland Park Zoo is rolling out yet another sun-soaking, solar project: the largest community solar project in Washington state.
Through a partnership with Seattle City Light and Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA), 60 new solar panels are currently being installed on the zoo’s Rain Forest Food Pavilion and behind-the-scenes Commissary building. Dubbed Community Solar on Phinney Ridge, the project includes placing a 16-kilowatt grid of solar panels on the zoo’s food pavilion—similar in appearance to the zoo’s solar-paneled Historic Carousel—and an additional 45-kilowatt system on the zoo’s animal food center. A hop, skip and jump from Woodland Park Zoo, PNA’s historic Phinney Center will also be boasting a new, energy efficient rooftop as part of the project. Together, the zoo and PNA will generate more than 75,0…

TKCP takes home top honors for AZA International Conservation Award

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications
We’re proud to announce Woodland Park Zoo’s flagship conservation program, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP), was prized with top honors for the International Conservation Award at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) national conference held this week in Orlando, Florida!

AZA names conservation as its highest priority, and annually recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, related or international facilities, and conservation partners toward habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild through its International Conservation Award.
Established in 1996, TKCP determined that the Matschie’s tree kangaroo and its unique habitat faced increasing threats from deforestation and over-hunting. It was clear habitat protection and sustainable resource management practices were needed to help this little-known species survive in its natural habitat. In Papua New Gui…

AZA grants Woodland Park Zoo seventh consecutive accreditation

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, communications

Good news! Woodland Park Zoo has been granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Accreditation Commission, marking the seventh consecutive time for the zoo. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association. Accreditation was announced Saturday, September 13 during AZA’s national conference held in Orlando, Florida.

“Only zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards are accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “The community should take great pride in knowing that Woodland Park Zoo is a proven leader in the care and conservation of wildlife, and in inspiring people to take action to protect the natural world.”
To be accredited, Woodland Park Zoo underwent a thorough review to ensure it has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal…

The facts about Woodland Park Zoo elephants

Woodland Park Zoo loves our elephants Chai and Bamboo, and we deeply mourn the loss of their herd mate, Watoto. Her recent death sent waves of grief through our community of staff, volunteers, members and guests. She was part of our family and will forever be honored in our memories.

Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant program continues to spark dialogue in our community. Productive dialogue has led to positive change, including the creation of the community-based Elephant Task Force, which concluded our elephants are in good physical and emotional health, and recommended some improvements to our program already underway.

Unfortunately, this dialogue is being colored by inflammatory campaigns from local and national activist groups and the media they garner. These campaigns rely on alarming sound bites that confuse and mislead well-intentioned people and mischaracterize the zoo as profit-driven and entertainment-focused. We are a conservation- and education-based nonprofit whose earnings ar…

Do you know Mo? International Vulture Awareness Day coming up

Posted by: Karen Stevenson, docent; Susan Burchardt, raptor keeper; and Anna Martin, docent


When you saw “Vulture” in the title, what came to mind? Did you think of the Marvel® comic book character? Of big, red-headed black birds pecking around fresh road kill? Important members of almost every continent’s cleaning crew? A featured friend of raptor fans at the zoo? How about “all of the above”?


The cartoon version is property of Marvel comics and we’ll let Marvel speak for him, but living, breathing, feathered vultures are represented at Woodland Park Zoo by Modoc, the zoo’s turkey vulture (Cathartesaura). Mo is a member of the Raptor Center’s educational team. He is the zoo’s ambassador for all vultures around the Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa) and the New World (the Americas).

Susan Burchardt, one of the zoo’s raptor keepers says, “Vultures are easy to ignore or vilify, but they are a cornerstone in so many ecosystems.” They’re often misunderstood. On September 6, International…