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Showing posts from October, 2014

A donkey allergic to hay? You don’t say!

Posted by Caileigh Robertson, Communications




Sneezes, sniffles and itchiness are all signs of allergies in humans and, as research indicates, they’re common symptoms in allergic animals too—especially for one miniature donkey at Woodland Park Zoo.

Sam, one of our two mini donkeys living at the Family Farm, is allergic to hay! Zookeepers noticed him becoming itchy around hay, which serves as feed for Sam and his herd mate, Rico. Sam continuously rubbed and scratched against posts in his Family Farm barn, and his coat became short and thin. After a blood test came back confirming his hay allergy, our keepers and animal health team crafted a treatment plan to reduce his symptoms and ease his discomfort.


Keepers promptly switched Sam’s feed to Bermuda grass hay, which doesn’t trigger allergic reactions like Timothy grass, commonly known for its pollen allergen. Although Sam experiences itchy side effects from exposure to Timothy grass, Rico indulges in it without trouble—though, they’re k…

Spiders are the best

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Spiders are sort of the worst best. Homes and backyards in the Pacific Northwest seem to be teeming with spiders during the fall season and dewy-dropped webs float oh so delicately between the sidewalk and your face. But don’t get all antsy (ahem… spidery), we spoke with Sue Andersen, zookeeper at the Bug World exhibit, to learn more about these incredible eight-legged beauties.

Video: A colorful look at spiders. Produced by Kirsten Pisto/WPZ.
Volunteer Jordan asks zookeeper Sue Andersen about her love of spiders and why everybody should appreciate them!
Sue, you have to work with spiders every day at Bug World. Were you always at ease around arachnids?
To tell you the truth, no. When I first started volunteering at Woodland Park Zoo, all I knew was that I wanted to become a keeper. My very first assignment was to help feed the golden orb weaver. They are long legged and they are web-builders, meaning they like to hang out high up in their exhibit.…

Got Zoobiquity?

Posted by: Dr. Deborah Jensen, President and CEO


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The first wealth is health.” It’s a truism that applies to all species. Although we may think our aches and pains are uniquely human, biologically speaking, Homo sapiens is just another species of animal. As a result, we are more similar genetically to other creatures than we are different, so we share many naturally occurring diseases. Health professionals caring for animals and humans often confront similar clinical questions, but to date don’t readily have avenues to work together on solutions.

Woodland Park Zoo is working to change that.

As global health challenges ask us to be more creative about our long-term well-being, we’re asking: what can we learn from a cross-species approach to health. Can we harness knowledge from both the veterinary and human medical sciences?

At the 4th annual Zoobiquity Conference, November 1, 2014, held at the University of Washington and Woodland Park Zoo, hundreds of l…

Video: 3-day-old lion cubs nursing

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


The lion cubs, seen here at three days old, are doing well behind the scenes with mom Adia. Watch them wrestle and roll around as they position themselves for nursing in this new video:

Video: Baby Lion Cub Sweetness

In case you missed it, find the first photos and video of the cubs in the birth announcement from last week.
We'll continue to provide updates on the three boys from behind the scenes. It'll be some time before we see the family out on exhibit. For now, they need to focus on nursing, bonding with mom, developing their motor skills and getting big and strong!

Autumn colors cloak the zoo

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Fall is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful seasons to stroll zoo grounds. With the autumnal nod of the Northern hemisphere, a slight shift in the earth’s axis means our days will soon be getting darker and darker until the shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice (note to self: head for the Tropical Rain Forest building on Dec. 21 to soak up some heat!).
Right now our pathways are spilling over with orange, red, gold and brilliant yellow leaves. Some of the best spots to stop for fall foliage are the oak leaf piles on the outer loop between the South Entrance and gorillas, the gigantic magnolia leaves near Thai Village, and the perfectly painted Enkianthus outside the Bamboo Forest Reserve.
If you are a photographer, visit early or late in the day and see those really warm golden hues that occur when the sun sinks low in the sky. Fall light provides some of the most flattering colors, casting a warm glow on your subject.

Here are a …

The pride of the zoo: three lions born

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications



The pride of Woodland Park Zoo just got a little bigger!


Video: Lion cub triplets first few hours

Three African lions were born yesterday on Oct. 24. The cubs represent the first litter between the mother, 5-year-old Adia, and 7-year-old father, Xerxes. This is the first offspring for the father. The last birth of lions was in 2012 when Adia gave birth to four cubs with a different male.


Zookeepers moved the cubs into the off-view maternity den where the new family can bond in comfortable, quiet surroundings. Before reuniting the cubs with mom, the zoo's veterinary team did a quick health assessment of the cubs and determined that all three are males. The father remains separated from the cubs and mother.

Zookeepers are monitoring the new family round-the-clock. The mother and cubs are bonding and nursing, according to Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.



The first 48 hours are critical, and animal care staff will be monitori…

In the shadow of the snow leopard

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


Just back from Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan mountain range—“God’s Mountains” in Kyrgyz—Woodland Park Zoo VP of Field Conservation, Dr. Fred Koontz, is preparing a field report to share with you the highlights from his trek in the shadow of the snow leopard. Here’s a sneak peek of his travels with zoo conservation partner, Snow Leopard Trust, in honor of today's International Snow Leopard Day.

As seen on Facebook:


Post by Woodland Park Zoo.

For more posts like this, be sure to like Woodland Park Zoo on Facebook.

Choose sustainable palm oil for Halloween candy

Posted by: Bobbi Miller, Field Conservation


Every kid wants yummy, sticky, sugary candy at Halloween, but not as much as orangutans, Asian elephants and tigers want a healthy place to live and thrive. This year, with just a little extra thought, we can grant both wishes.


Halloween candy has been in the stores for weeks (OK, months) now, building up to a weekend of spooky, candy-filled activities for kids and adults alike. When buying candy this year, you can make a difference in the lives of orangutans, tigers, Asian elephants, hornbills and many other animals impacted by the loss of habitat due to palm oil plantations.


It takes a few extra minutes to pick the right candy, but that choice sends a powerful message to companies—one that says you care about the environment and everything in it.

But wait, what exactly is palm oil and why should we care?


Palm oil is one of the healthiest and most inexpensive vegetable oils on the market today, virtually free of trans fats. In Africa, it is…

Seven Snake Myths Debunked

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications



Witches, werewolves and snakes? Let’s face it, snakes get a bad rap. Perhaps more than any other creature, snakes are the subject of much fear and misunderstanding. Like bats, spiders and all things deemed crawly, snakes are unfairly categorized as “creepy.” Slip into any Halloween shop and you’ll find snake motifs among the Draculas and the Swamp Things. In truth, snakes are vital to a diverse range of ecosystems on every continent (except Antarctica). While there are some snakes that pose a threat to humans, the majority of the 3,400 species of snake are harmless, only about 15% are venomous.

One reason we fear snakes could, in part, be biological. This article explains how our primate neurons might respond to an image of a snake. I can personally recall my usually very level-headed mother flinging my little brother off a hiking trail in the face of a terrifying, coiled... shoelace (in her defense we were in the heart of rattlesnake territory.…

It's National Vet Tech Week

Posted by: Dr. Darin Collins, DVM, Director, Animal Health



The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America has proclaimed October 12-18, 2014 to be National Veterinary Technician Week.

Please join me in celebrating this week and share with Woodland Park Zoo's veterinary technicians, Harmony, Linda, Teri, Barb and Kimberly, how much you appreciate them and their work!


Our Woodland Park Zoo veterinary technicians have over a 100 years of combined professional work experience. They are licensed professionals having graduated from accredited programs, and are members of their professional organization. Our technicians are highly trained in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside the zoo veterinarians to give all our zoo patients the best medical care possible.

Being a zoo veterinary technician is a lifelong learning process through continuing education, and day-to-day work where they must uphold the highest of ethical standards and provide for the hu…

Why do snakes stick out their tongues?

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Ever wonder why snakes are always sticking out their tongues? Woodland Park Zoo volunteer, Jordan, asked some of the zoo’s most curious visitors to explain…and their answers were pretty impressive! It's hard to trick the smartest zoo kids in the world.
Video: Why are snakes always sticking out their tongues?
All snakes have a vomeronasal organ, sometimes referred to as the Jacobson’s organ. This special auxiliary olfactory organ, located on the roof of the snake’s mouth, allows tiny chemical particles to be interpreted by the snake’s brain. A lightning fast exchange, the tongue finds these particles from the air, water or ground and delivers them to the Jacobson’s organ. The organ then supplies this information to the brain which interprets the message and the snake reacts accordingly.

A snake’s vomeronasal organ, or Jacobson’s organ, sits inside the roof of the mouth. A snake’s forked tongue assists in this adaptation by fitting snuggly int…

Update: Learning more about Watoto

We have heard touching stories from so many of you about how Watoto impacted your lives, and we want to share the latest news to keep you informed on a subject we know is so close to your hearts. Following Watoto’s death in August, we have now received laboratory results that are helping us understand more about the loss of our 45-year-old female African elephant.

According to the zoo’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Darin Collins, the most relevant finding from the pathology report was the chronic, age-related arthritis in the elephant’s leg joints, which had been described during the post-mortem examination. Additional findings in other tissues examined, such as age-related changes in heart and muscles, were mild and within expected limits and were not life-threatening. There was no evidence of an infectious disease process, in the joints or in other tissues examined. In addition, the pathologist did not find any evidence for a herpesvirus infection.

“We don’t know if Watoto fell o…

Sinus treatment continues for Vip

Posted by Caileigh Robertson, Communications
Back in his outdoor exhibit with his group, silverback Vip is breathing more freely since his successful sinus surgery. In late August, a team of ear, nose and throat specialists joined Woodland Park Zoo’s animal health team to clear Vip of sinus blockage caused by a severe sinus infection, and have continued working with our staff to monitor his progress since the surgery. After the procedure, and necessary days of rest and recovery, Vip’s healthy appetite and curious demeanor were welcome signs to his care team.


To ensure Vip is on track for long-term success, our animal health team and consulting physicians will take a look at his improved sinus condition and clear any remaining blockage during a follow-up procedure this Saturday, October 4. Our animal health team has also called on the help of a local oral surgeon to give Vip a thorough dental evaluation during this weekend’s procedure. Although the aging silverback’s prognosis remain…