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Showing posts from March, 2016

Towan: an orangutan known and loved by generations

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor



It is with heavy hearts that we share the news today: our sweet old fellow, Towan, has passed away. The 48-year-old orangutan—the oldest in North America born in a zoo—was feeling the aches and pains of getting older, and he passed during a medical examination that was needed to find a new treatment plan to help with respiratory issues that were not responding to medicine.

His keepers were by his side, and from the outpouring of love we saw yesterday when we first announced his pending examination, we know he was in all of your hearts as well.


This community has known and loved Towan since he was born here with twin sister Chinta back in 1968. Many of you watched him grow up and as the decades passed, he watched us too. He saw Woodland Park Zoo evolve, he saw countless kids become parents and teachers with kids of their own, and he observed what inevitably happens to each of us as we come upon him: we slow down, we stand back in awe for a moment, and…

Woodland Park Zoo welcomes new CEO

After an international search, Woodland Park Zoo has found its new President and CEO: Alejandro Grajal, PhD. The eighth president in our 117-year history in this community, Alejandro is set to embrace the mantle of leading our continuous evolution as one of the world’s foremost conservation and education zoos.


The CEO Selection Committee, comprising Woodland Park Zoo Board members and community representatives, was highly impressed by his leadership, deep passion for education and conservation, and significant contributions as a research scientist that span conservation biology and animal welfare to the social sciences. Grajal will assume service on Monday, May 16.

Grajal joined the leadership team at the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the Brookfield Zoo, 10 years ago. He now serves as senior vice president for conservation, education and training. Before Chicago, Grajal was a top executive at the National Audubon Society, where he founded and ran its Latin America and Cari…

A study in green

Posted by: Valerie Paquin, Marketing
If we asked you to describe Woodland Park Zoo in one color, your response would surely be green. The zoo’s abundant foliage is a result of both our dedicated horticulture team and the natural, verdant wonder of the Northwest. 

There are also many green animal species at the zoo, and their coloring serves a greater purpose than not getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day. Used for camouflage, warning signals or displays, these brilliant hues make us green with envy.

The bright, contrasting colors of poison dart frogs are a beautiful warning of their toxicity to predators. Although able to avoid most predation with their stunning coloration, some poison dart frogs are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss and other threats. 

Found in the rain forests of South America, emerald tree boas are leafy green with white, lightning-bolt markings. This pattern is perfect camouflage in the lush understory, concealing these remarkable reptiles from predator…

And the baby gorilla's name is...

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Our 4-month-old female gorilla has a name of her own. Through a public naming contest, nearly 3,500 names were submitted and the baby gorilla caretakers have selected the winning name: Yola (rhymes with Lola).


Yola, which means “firefly” in the African language Hausa was chosen because the new gorilla has been a spark that has catalyzed and solidified the bonds within her mom’s group. Hear more from zookeeper Stephanie Payne-Jacobs on why they selected this name:

Video: And our baby gorilla's new name is...

We are grateful to all of you who submitted name suggestions, and many thanks to our gorilla fans who have followed the story of our new western lowland gorilla. She has sparked a fire in all of our hearts to fight for a future for this critically endangered species. Every time you visit the zoo, you support our conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.

Show your support and symbolically adopt a gorilla today. Your ZooParent adoption hel…

Penguin chick gets a flight-inspired name

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


With an older brother named Eagle, it is only fitting that this year's first penguin chick—the 51st hatched at the zoo since 2010—would carry on the family tradition with a Northwest raptor-inspired name.


This week we asked our Facebook fans to cast their vote for their favorite name: Falcon, Hawk or Merlin. With 70% of the vote, the clear winner is Merlin, so named for the small falcon species.

The parents, 8-year-old Dora and 3-year-old Maximiliano, are providing care for the new chick and their other new hatchling who has not yet been named. If you've ever spotted the holes along the cliffs of the penguin exhibit, those are entries into nesting burrows where the parents rear their chicks.




Staff weighs the chick regularly to ensure it is achieving growth milestones, and it is clear this little one is growing quickly and right on track!



Before new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they move out from their parents' ne…

Anti-poaching heroes honored on World Wildlife Day

Posted by: Snow Leopard Trust, a Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife



A total of ten Kyrgyz wildlife rangers have received aCitizen Ranger Wildlife Award for their courage in the fight against illegal hunting in the country’s snow leopard habitat in 2015. They were publicly honored in a ceremony in Bishkek today, on World Wildlife Day.

Chinasilov Baktibek, a regional wildlife inspector, received an award for his role in bringing to justice a poacher who had illegally hunted and killed a brown bear and an ibex in Sary-Chelek reserve. The poacher he captured with the help of two colleagues has been sentenced to pay a $12,000 fine.

Another award was given to Abdykarimov Urustamaly Hamdamalievich, a ranger working with the Department of Rational Use of Natural Resources. He stopped and apprehended a group of poachers in Surma-Tash reserve after they had killed two pregnant ibex. The poachers have since paid a fine of $3,000.


The award ceremony was presided over by Mr. Sabir Atadjanov, t…