Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2015

Turkey vultures get their day

Posted by: Greg Brandell, Animal Care
Photos by: Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo

We here at Woodland Park Zoo recognize and appreciate that all species of animals are significant and necessary within native ecosystems. Now, having said that, let’s be honest: sometimes some get a bit more recognition than others. Sometimes an animal has a dirty but essential job that needs doing. Take for example the noble turkey vulture, a species which can even be found right here in Washington.

We call them turkey vultures, but their scientific name hints at their role in an ecosystem; they are Cathartes aura, the Cleansing Wind. They are the clean-up crew, the ones that help make sure the rest of the ecosystem is nice and clean. And in this case, clean means free of dead and rotting meat, which helps protect us and other animals from harmful diseases and illness. Turkey vultures have amazing noses and can use smell alone to locate a carcass from over a mile away! They survive by eating what would mak…

Monkey conservationists stretch their wings to rehabilitate injured bird

Posted by: Keith Thompson, Colobus Conservation Ltd., a Woodland Park Zoo Wildlife Survival Fund project

For field conservationists dedicated to protecting colobus monkeys, file this one under “Other Duties as Needed.”

Colobus Conservation was called about a sea bird that had washed up on the beach of a nearby hotel. On arrival, I was handed a large cardboard box by the manager and told in no uncertain terms to be careful. Upon opening the box I realized why I was getting the warning as I was face-to-face with the razor sharp bill of what we later determined was a masked booby, which is a pelagic diving bird similar to a gannet.

After assessing the bird back at our vet clinic, we observed that there was nothing broken but the bird was severely underweight, exhausted and dehydrated. After a few days of assisted feeding, the bird regained a little of its strength and started to eat on its own. We outfitted one of our rehab enclosures with suitable flooring and a paddling pool.

The bird …

The trees are alive with the sound of siamangs!

Posted by Alissa Wolken, Communications

Welcome Sam, Woodland Park Zoo’s new male siamang! The 28-year-old male joins female Briony in the Trail of Vines exhibit. And how fitting that this new arrival comes during the Year of the Gibbon, a global effort to raise conservation awareness for these lesser known apes facing the threat of extinction.

Sam first arrived at the zoo in June and was introduced to Briony in the indoor exhibit, and now they are ready to explore their outdoor exhibit together.

“Once we could see that Sam and Briony were getting along and he was familiar with the inside exhibit, we introduced Sam, with Briony, to the outside island exhibit,” says Collection Manager Pat Owen. “He is gradually spending more time out on exhibit; we anticipate it taking time for him to adjust to his new surroundings, because this is the first open air exhibit Sam has experienced.”

Sam was born at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. and was moved to Los Angeles Zoo at 1 year of age. Sam wa…

Honoring World Orangutan Day

Posted by: Laura McComesky, Zookeeper

Today is World Orangutan Day and in honor of our fab five, we know you'll love seeing how we celebrated orangutan awareness—and how you can take a role in helping save endangered Sumatran and Bornean orangutans—during our Asian Wildlife Conservation Day earlier this month.

KIND Snacks was our official sponsor for the day and we thank and applaud them for their commitment to sourcing and using only certified sustainable palm oil. Family-owned Asian grocery Uwajimaya generously contributed a cornucopia of exotic tropical fruits for our orangutans.

During our keeper talk, our orangutans enjoyed durian, jackfruit, dragon fruit, tamarind, mini bananas, lychees and sugarcane. It was certainly enjoyed by all, including letting our visitors smell some durian fruit which some guests described as smelling like dirty socks, while others thought it just had a tropical fruit odor.

Lots of visitors, young and old, took part in a palm pledge on one of the or…

Breathe easy: Gorilla Vip recovers from successful sinus surgery

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Gorilla Vip is recovering from sinus surgery performed over the weekend. More than 25 medical specialists joined the zoo’s veterinary team and donated their time and expertise to help the 36-year-old, 430-pound gorilla. Vip remains off view in an enclosure at the gorilla exhibit.

A similar surgery was performed a year ago on the western lowland gorilla for treatment of a chronic sinus infection. As a result of that successful surgery to remove polyps (growths within the nasal sinuses), Vip was able to breathe normally through his nose for the first time in weeks. In recent days, however, symptoms re-emerged, explained Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of Animal Health. “It was evident that Vip was experiencing some level of discomfort, likely from a repeat sinus infection. During this second round of surgery, polyps and infection were surgically removed,” said Collins. “We are hopeful that Vip will slowly progress to full recovery…

To hand raise a wallaroo joey, it takes a village and a mob

Posted by: Alissa Wolken, Communications
Photos by: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

The tools of the trade for hand raising a wallaroo joey:

1. A heavy duty pillowcase-like pouch for sleepy time
2. A handmade bottle adapter equipped with customized parts all the way from Australia for feedings
3. A kangaroo plush so the baby can redirect his playful bites and kicks at something other than one of us!
4. A lot of patience, a lot of compassion, and a sharp focus on letting a wallaroo be a wallaroo

When it became apparent at six-and-a-half months of age that wallaroo joey, Yuri, wasn’t receiving from his mother the nutrition he needed to grow, we were ready to step in. But just as importantly when hand raising an animal, we’ve been getting ready to step back out.

For Yuri, first it took a village, but now it takes a (wallaroo) mob.

The first days of hand raising Upon the first signs that intervention was needed, Yuri was taken to the zoo’s Animal Health Complex where he was continuously …

Native turtles return to wild to rebuild Northwest populations

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

The future weighs 2 ounces.

We’re at the edge of the pond, and there are leaves scattered in the water that are bigger than the turtle in my hands.

But now that it’s large enough to avoid the mouths of predators such as invasive bullfrogs, this turtle has a big role to play.

After hatching and getting a head start at life behind the scenes at Woodland Park Zoo, turtle #5 and 24 others are off to their next great adventure: rebuilding the wild population of native western pond turtles in Washington state.

Western pond turtles were once common from Baja California to Puget Sound, including the Columbia River Gorge. However, loss of habitat, commercial exploitation for food, disease and introduced predators, such as bullfrogs and large-mouth bass, decimated their numbers.

In 1990, only about 150 western pond turtles remained in two populations in the state of Washington. Over the last 24 years, the collaborative Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project betw…