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Showing posts from August, 2016

Vultures get their day

Posted by: Susan Burchardt, Zookeeper Turkey vulture Modoc at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ. Vultures are common—found all over the world except Antarctica and Australia—and yet are frequently overlooked or misunderstood. Here in the United States we are lucky to have three species of these beautiful scavengers: the black vulture, the turkey vulture and the critically endangered California condor. Condor numbers are slowly creeping back up. Once down to 22 individuals there are now about 430 condors. The picture is a little darker in other parts of the world. Asian vulture populations are beginning to stabilize after dramatic losses in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In Africa, carcasses are being poisoned to prevent soaring vultures from alerting rangers to the presence of poachers. This with other issues has caused several species to drop to near critically endangered levels. Vultures are nature’s recyclers. Modoc takes that job quite seriously. Photo:

Tiger rangers put eyes on the forest

Posted by: Fred Koontz, PhD, Vice President of Field Conservation In my last blog post, you read a story about my recent trip to Malaysia , which included a visit to our Harimau Selamanya (“Tigers Forever”) conservation project area. As I wrote to you, I left feeling daunted at the sheer scale of resources needed to save the critically endangered Malayan tiger, yet hopeful about our collective power to save them, together. Malaysia's Greater Taman Negara Region spans 3 million acres, three times the size of Washington's Olympic National Park. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo. The Good News:  Our efforts are working! Woodland Park Zoo's partnership with Panthera, the international wild cat conservancy, and Malaysian non-profit Rimba combines resources to stop the illegal killing of tigers. In just two years, rangers from Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks, with support from our team of 14 dedicated researchers have removed more

Lion Guardians give us something to celebrate this World Lion Day

Posted by: Amy Dickman, PhD, Ruaha Carnivore Project, a Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife Lioness with cubs spotted by a remote research camera. Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project. Lions are one of Africa’s flagship species, but their numbers have halved in the last 20 years, with around 20,000 remaining. This means there are now fewer wild lions left in Africa than rhinos. Lions have disappeared from over 90% of their original range, and now only six large populations remain. One of those is in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape, which is estimated to hold around a tenth of the world’s remaining lions. Many lion killings in the Ruaha landscape occur for cultural reasons, where young men hunt lions in order to receive accolades, gifts and female attention from within their communities. To reduce these killings, we have been working with the Lion Guardians organization in Kenya, and adapting their model for the Ruaha landscape. The Lion Guardians approach is to select and train the

Research cameras catch scavengers in the act

Posted by: Jim Watson, Wildlife Research Scientist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife & Woodland Park Zoo Living Northwest conservation program Pop Quiz: Scavenger Squad Can you identify each of these typical Northwest scavengers?  Bonus points if you can name which one is the top dog (at least for a few minutes). We'll reveal the answer at the end of this story. Photo: Matt Orr. This past winter we completed the fifth year of our study to investigate the feeding behavior of golden and bald eagles at carrion using remote cameras known as camera traps. Our interest is to better understand feeding rates of eagles on carrion, which is a likely source of lead fragments that eagles ingest, eventually poisoning them.  We are working cooperatively with Dr. Matt Orr, a researcher at Oregon State University conducting similar research that emphasizes the importance of ravens in finding carrion and attracting other scavengers. Even when ravens arrive at a carca

Butterfly Wings coloring contest: winners announced!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications Last month, in celebration of the new Molbak's Butterfly Garden , we asked artists of all ages to show us their most creative designs with the Butterfly Wings coloring contest. As 569 beautiful entries rolled in, we realized that picking the winners would be a daunting task! The video above highlights just a few of the 569 entries we received. To help us narrow down the contestants, we invited the entire zoo staff to vote for their favorites. After eight hours of voting, we finally have our winners. Drum roll, please... Adults (13 years and older) Grand prize winner:  Melissa Jeffers, 21, “Butterflies in the Forest” Melissa Jeffers, "Butterflies in the Forest." Melissa will receive the grand prize: a tour of Molbak’s Butterfly Garden with entomologist and butterfly expert Erin Sullivan and a private afternoon tea with cookies for up to six people. $50 Molbak’s gift card. Runner up:  Elissa Clough, 13, “The B