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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Lulu the giraffe turns 6 months old

Posted by: Alissa Wolken, Communications

Lulu is a curious, "independent calf with a lot of spirit," according to lead keeper, Katie Ahl. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Today is Lulu's half birthday! In honor of the special day, we asked lead keeper Katie Ahl for an update on Seattle’s tallest baby.

Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ): How is Lulu doing?

Katie Ahl (KA): Lulu is doing great. She was introduced as part of the herd from very early on and has positive relationships with each herd member, but in general she is a very independent calf with a lot of spirit.

WPZ: Can you describe Lulu’s relationship with the rest of the herd?

KA: It looks a little different with each member. Her mom, Tufani, is her home base when something startles her. But I often see Lulu hanging out with Olivia, who is just as great of an aunt as she was a mother. Lulu also has a lot of contact and check-ins with dad, Dave. They are both very cute together; she spends more time with him out on the savanna than in the corrals

WPZ: Speaking of the herd, how are they doing?

KA: They’re doing well. We just received our new breeding recommendations through the giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and we will be allowing Dave and Olivia to breed this winter!

WPZ: How has Lulu changed over the past 6 months?

KA: When Lulu was born, she weighed in at 149 pounds and was 5 feet 9 inches tall. When we weighed her earlier this month, she was up to 566 pounds and now stands between 8 ½ and 9 feet tall.

While she’s continuing to grow, one thing that hasn’t changed since she was born is her independent personality and her curiosity. She’s very curious about everything; food, rakes, keepers (you name it), and we’re using that to our advantage to get her exposed and used to as much as possible so that she will be better prepared for life at another zoo one day.

Lulu is still nursing, but also eats all the same items as the other giraffe; she even gets her own portion of grain and beet pulp, and as she grows and weans we will increase that amount. She also has access to the whole barn and corrals daily and, when the weather is good, she and the rest of the giraffe go to the savanna for a few hours. They spend less time on the savanna in the winter, but they are often viewable at the barn.

May you never outgrow your curiosity, Lulu. You either, Dave. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

WPZ: Training is a great way to get animals to actively participate in their own care. Is Lulu doing any sort of training with her keepers yet?

KA: She’s undergoing a lot of training right now. The main things we’re working on with her include:
  • Shift training: getting Lulu to move voluntarily to where we need her is a foundation to other training. She is also learning to be away from the rest of the herd (but can still see them) for short periods of time. We use that time to feed her and do training sessions with her.  
  • Tactile/touch desensitization: being able to touch her neck back and legs are helpful for exams and hoof trimming.
  • Scale training: getting Lulu to step up and stand on the scale on cue. That way we can track her weight and growth. She’s a pro at this.
  • Target training: Asking the animal to touch part of its body to an item so that we can direct them to certain parts of the barn or direct certain parts of their body to a certain location. For giraffe the target is a large red pool float on a stick and we ask them to touch their nose to the target. One use of this would be to hold the target close to the scale so as she moves to the target she steps on the scale. This helps us build other behaviors.
  • Chute training: getting her comfortable with staying in an enclosed area for physical exams is very helpful for her health and well-being. Training her to do this voluntarily as part of her regular routine lessens the stress of those exams by making them feel normal and every day.
We’ll begin adding hoof trim training, and maybe ultrasound or eye and ear exam training too. But not before we work on everything else first.

Inside the barn, Lulu touches her nose (and tongue!) to a target as part of her training. Photo: Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

WPZ: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Katie!

And thanks to our readers for joining us for the update. Lulu and family are often out daily, either on the savanna or in the corral. Be sure to visit!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sparkling lights, cozy nights and many warm smiles

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications
Photos by Pisto, Woodland Park Zoo

Sparkling colors and magical scenes draw many families to explore Woodland Park Zoo's WildLights. This year, in addition to welcoming members and visitors—the zoo's Community Access Program invited some very special community members to share in the magic of the season.

Our friends from White Center CDA, thank you for joining us!

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the zoo invited more than 50 community partners to attend WildLights presented by Sound Credit Union. These local organizations serve low-income, at-risk or underserved children and families in our shared community and include organizations such as Mary's Place, Ryther, Big Brothers Big Sisters Puget Sound, Sibling House, White Center CDA, Youthcare, Treehouse and more. By partnering with these organizations over the Thanksgiving weekend, the zoo welcomed more than 3,000 attendees to our Community Access Program WildLights nights.

We believe that all kids should be able to come to the zoo and work with over 600 community partners and local organizations to make free visits to the zoo possible for more than 50,000 people every year. During the winter season, it's more important than ever to reach out to those in need and offer a warm and welcome space. As well as providing complimentary WildLights tickets, the zoo invited guests to enjoy warm refreshments in a private space, offered special animal encounters with Benin the hedgehog and Buddy the pharaoh eagle-owl, shared conservation games led by our ZooCorps teens and provided items donated to our cozy clothing drive. In addition, we were absolutely thrilled to be able to offer many of our guests complimentary shuttle service to and from the event, thanks to a generous partnership with our amazing friends at Starline Luxury Coaches.

While it fills our hearts with joy to open our doors to the community, we could not do so without support from members, volunteers and donors. The Community Access Program's mission is to reach out to those in our community who would not otherwise be able to experience a zoo visit. Our partnerships with 600+ human service organizations across Puget Sound make this mission successful. We want to thank our partners for their participation in this program and we'd like to thank you for making programs like this possible. With each zoo visit and membership, you support a zoo that supports its community.

As a reflection of the wide support that makes our world-class zoo so strong, the Community Access Program (CAP) is dedicated to making the zoo more accessible to low-income, at-risk, or underserved children and families in our shared community. We believe time spent with wildlife is educational, motivational and restorative. It is our goal to make such experiences possible to as many people as possible regardless of their economic circumstances.

Here are a few of our favorite photos from our WildLights Community Access Program nights. From ours to yours, we hope this season is full of community, family, a spirit of giving and a whole lotta' hot chocolate.

Best part of the night? Cookies of course! Thank you Lancer catering!

Rain Forest Pavilion made a very festive spot to warm up between WildLights!

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Lancer Catering for their beautiful spread of holiday cookies, hot cocoa and coffee.

We would like to give a huge shout out to the many generous donations from staff and zoo volunteers who emptied their closets and bought brand new items for our cozy clothing drive. There were so many beautiful hats, scarves mittens and coats—we could not count them all. Guests were able to collect the clothing items they needed and then head out to enjoy the lights. 
Piles of cozy clothing items.

Thanks to our lovely volunteers and ZooCorps teens for an awesome event!
A zoo volunteer helps light the safety sparkle lights provided by Seattle Department of Transportation while some curious kiddos stand by.

Special thanks also go to Seattle Department of Transportation for bringing a sparkle to each night with a wonderful gift of safety lights! Guests were able to take the clip-on lights home with them and hopefully make walking or riding a safer experience for all during the dark winter months.
When asked, the best part of the night was spending time with family and taking in the lights.

Special thank you also goes to Starline Luxury Coaches for safe and warm transportation to the zoo! Among the major barriers to access is an inability to travel to the zoo, especially during the cold and dark winter months. We were able to provide access to new members of the community by providing safe, warm transportation to our Special WildLights event. In order to make this weekend accessible to as many children and families as possible, Starline Luxury Coaches offered two full-size busses each night for organizations such as Mary's Place, Solid Ground and ADWAS.

A couple of brightly lit lemurs welcome guests.
A few very nice words from our guests:

The burden parents feel when they are experiencing housing insecurity, food insecurity and financial stress is immense.  Their number one concern is, “how is this affecting my child(ren)?”  “Is this going to screw them up for life?” When they have the opportunity to visit an event like WildLights—where a kid can delight in the wonder of Woodland Park Zoo—parents are flooded with relief and reprieve from the ‘heaviness.’  Being able to enjoy a night out—like a “normal” family is profound in a way most people can’t understand, and we are so glad that Woodland Park Zoo gets that.  Thank you. 
- FamilyWorks Food Bank and Resource Center

THANK YOU for the tickets to Wildlights! I brought a friend and her son and they all had a blast. The kiddo has some heavy stuff in his life and his mom said it was a great distraction from that. He was like a kid in a candy shop delighted by the lights, sloths, Komodo dragons, and all the extra bling and souvenirs they were giving away. Thanks for making his and our night special...doing something we would never have thought to do otherwise! - FamilyWorks guest

All of our families that were able to go because of the tickets you donated were so thankful for the experience! After they went they were all texting and emailing how thankful they were that they got to take their kids to see the lights and were very thankful for the experience! Thank you so much for partnering with us at Hand in Hand to make the simple joys of life, such as seeing Christmas lights, a possibility for the families we serve! - Village Impact Project, Hand in Hand

Thank you so much for the opportunity for our families to experience WildLights. The families appreciated the shuttle to and from the event very much. Our bus driver was phenomenal, and the families enjoyed his enthusiasm. Despite being rained on, there were all happy faces on our way back. They especially appreciated the hot cocoa to warm up after the rain. - Mary's Place

It was so great, we had a blast!  We loved walking around and finding all the animals, especially the ones that moved like the monkeys, eagle, and elephants.  A major highlight was the snowball fight and one of my kids stated, “this is the best snowball fight ever.” - Ryther guest

It was a very sweet moment to see the students sit in Santa’s lap and say what they wanted for Christmas.  OneLife Tutoring provides free homework help and tutoring to children from immigrant families that are low-income.  We also run a drive for getting a $25 Toys R Us Gift card into the hands of the parents so they can fulfill what Santa heard that night, so every child in a student’s family gets a Christmas gift.  It is going to be a Merry Christmas!  Thank you for the hot chocolate and the coffee and tea.  We all appreciated warming up in the Food Pavilion.  We saw a beautiful owl there too. Happy Holidays to you and the WildLights Staff! - OneLife Tutoring

Thank you so much for the WildLights tickets! We all had such a blast (especially the kids!). They loved seeing all the lights and wandering around. They took their hot chocolate with them to keep their hands toasty, and all made sure to keep their flashing buttons on so we could keep track of them! We all had such an amazing time and are so glad we could do this and make memories with them that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Thank you!!! -Sibling House guest

To share in the joy and magic of the season with your family visit WildLights presented by Sound Credit Union. For details visit www.zoo.org/wildlights

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Follow Ben to see how WildLights gets its sparkle

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photo by Kirsten Pisto, Woodland Park Zoo

Hey everyone, we’d like to introduce you to Ben Haager, our events installation coordinator. He’s the Clark Griswold of WildLights, except that Ben is actually really good at keeping the lights on! Here’s Ben with a very special Woodland Park Zoo WildLights takeover to show you what is takes to get our glow on…

Hi everyone! It’s my first year coordinating WildLights presented by Sound Credit Union—and I am learning A LOT. Like how to hang and secure large light displays—I even had to get scissor lift certified—and become an expert in Santa decorations. There are lots of trips to Home Depot and local hardware stores as well as vintage thrift stores to find supplies for outfitting Santa’s camp which has a very PNW vibe. It smells pretty great in Santa’s camp thanks to loads of pine our horticulture crew has strewn up, they do such a great job with all the boughs. I really like the details we have at Santa’s Camp—we even have an old canoe! I’m going to show you what it takes to light up the zoo each night and give you a few tips for your own light displays…

Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo
All about the lights. There are so many types of lights, you have your minis, G-12, C-6, C-7, net lights and M-5 which is sort of the standard holiday light. We have some very artistic crew members with an eye for color. Our creative services team even made a color guide for different areas of the zoo, with suggestions as to which colors will pop in different locations, but new colors, like teal this year, are always coming out. We try to stick with a two-tone color pattern on most of the displays, but sometimes we’ll use many colors that compliment like blues, greens and teals.

It’s not about the number of lights you put up, but how many you can keep on! Our wet Washington winters make it hard to keep on the lights, so sometimes a few strands can go a long way in making your yard look sparkling. Sometimes less is more in certain areas!

Squirrel photo by @mross1361 via Instagram
We’ve got problems, squirrel problems. They’re cute, but they definitely keep us on our toes! They prefer the G12 bulbs, the little round ones that most resemble acorns. We’ve tried deterrents, like hot pepper wax on the lights, but they don’t mind the spice! So, we just end up replacing wires and trying to hang them above the ground when possible. So far they have chewed through quite a few string—squirrels: 42, zoo: 0

Snowmazium is always really fun—we have UV lights that cast a magical icy glow over the whole place—and icicle streamers that our theater crew helps install—it’s a really cool transformation. Plus, we have seen some pretty epic snowball fights in here. It’s really rewarding seeing a space like this transform into a whole new look. 

This is sort of a secret workshop back here where we get all the lights organized and fix displays, but our real secret sauce for a successful WildLights? Goop. At least, that’s what we call it. This stuff protects rain or water from getting into the ends of the light strings. Obviously, electricity and water do not mix, so we seal each plug with a little bit of this goop to prevent water from getting inside. 

This is a spider box, it’s an electrical split for 250 volts, much like your circuit breaker at home. It acts as a surge protector for lights all over the zoo. We have about 12 of these units across the zoo during WildLights. Each night we have to turn on each circuit to light up the zoo. We have over 600,000 energy-efficient LED lights recreating wild animals and wild places. I have to say that it’s pretty satisfying to be able to flip a switch and transform the zoo into a dazzling light display.

This is our 6th WildLights season, and each year we’ve added new elements and displays. This year we have a few new light displays such as lemurs and warty pigs AND we have a really awesome glow wall! The glow wall is my favorite this year because we haven’t had anything like this before so it was fun to research and build. It’s also interactive which I really like. It’s always cool to see your guests become part of the event, I love the interactive element. It’s also neat to see guests come back year after year and notice the new light displays we’ve added.

We actually start the WildLights installation the day after Labor Day! I help coordinate the installation and work with two crews. We work with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees who give us a huge advantage because they are really good at thinking about lighting and thinking about how the audience will experience each display. They are also thinking about safety too, especially with so many treetop displays. Having this extra support really comes in handy since WildLights is such a big operation. Our second crew is made up of zoo staff whose job it is to wrap the trees and blanket the zoo in as much sparkling lights as we can. 

Everyone really puts a lot of creativity and effort into WildLights—it’s a ton of work and I couldn’t do it without the support of this rock solid crew.

Have you roasted a marshmallow at our cozy fire pit seats yet? Our exhibits crew cut these stumps from trees that had to be taken out or had fallen on grounds. Then our WildLights crew sanded them and coated them with a sealant to protect them from weather. I really like the way they’ve turned out and they are a really warm spot to take same chill time.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo
Thank you all for following along today. It was fun to show you the ins and outs of WildLights! 

Get your sparkle on by visiting www.zoo.org/wildlights. If you see me or any of the WildLights crew, please say hello! We always love to hear what you think of our latest light displays!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Grow with Yola, hello 2!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Happy Birthday Yola!

Yola and her vine swing. Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.

A very gorilla birthday

Mischievous, playful, smart, curious, adorable and loved—that’s Yola. Today, November 20 is her second birthday. The 2-year-old gorilla won’t be getting a heart-shaped cake or streamers, she won’t be renting a bouncy house either—instead she’ll spend the day with her gorilla group, her family, doing what all 2-year-olds do best. She’ll push boundaries by stealing someone’s stick, she’ll snuggle up close to mom when she feels like it, she’ll play chase with her aunt Akenji, and undoubtedly she’ll investigate whatever Leo is up to—but most importantly she’ll be a gorilla.

Being a gorilla is important. Gorillas are endangered. We hear that word a lot, but let’s think about what that really means. Their habitat and natural range is shrinking every day, and while we’ve made some progress in providing them protection —most of the wild population lives outside these protected areas. Many gorillas live in areas strife with political turmoil, hazardous development and even war. They are endangered due to habitat destruction and human encroachment, they’re slaughtered as bushmeat and hunted by poachers. They also face infectious disease as human populations increasingly overlap with their habitat.

Yola, at 6 months, clings to mom, Nadiri. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
According to a 2010 United Nations report, conservationists believe gorillas may disappear from large parts of the Congo Basin by the mid-2020s. Yola will only be around 8-years-old by then. It’s hard to imagine a world without Yola. It’s even harder to image a world without wild gorillas. On her second birthday, let’s promise Yola we will stand up for her wild cousins and protect their future.

Woodland Park Zoo members, guests, staff and volunteers have shown an outpouring of love for Yola since she was born two years ago. We followed along with fingers crossed as dedicated keepers made sure Yola developed a bond with mom, Nadiri, so she would grow up gorilla. We all cheered as Leo, a male gorilla with a somewhat uncertain family history, stepped up to be a true silverback—protecting little Yola and showing affection for her. We watched in anticipation as the young gorilla was introduced to aunt Akenji and have delighted in watching them play together. We’ve watched as children play hide and seek with Yola. We celebrated her species on World Gorilla Day. It’s not hard to look into her eyes and feel your heart grow a little bigger, and for that we are all better off.

Yola at about 2-months-old. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

Yola, which means “firefly” in the African language Hausa was chosen because the baby gorilla became a spark that catalyzed and solidified the bonds within her gorilla group, and on her second birthday, it’s clear she has also sparked in all of us a stronger commitment to conservation.

Today we celebrate Yola with an update from her utterly devoted keepers and a promise to be a spark for building a sustainable future for all gorillas.

Yola at 2

Yola and a young guest share a moment. Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.
Gorilla keepers Stephanie Payne-Jacobs, Hugh Bailey, Rachel Vass, Judy Sievert and Traci Colwell and curators Kim Szawan and Pat Owen have been with Yola since her birth. They’ve watched her grow and seen her behavior develop and her character blossom. They’ve also been witness to just how much her presence has positively impacted her group—seeing Nadiri, Akenji and Leo become family.

Stephanie and Hugh share a few of their favorite recent moments with Yola:

It always makes me smile when Nadiri goes to retrieve Yola. Yola is usually laughing as she pretends to "struggle" with Nadiri as if to say no to her mom and not come to breakfast or bed. Even though Nadiri usually gets her way (mom knows best), Yola is always testing the boundaries and never passes up an opportunity for play.

There are so many great memories of Yola’s first 2 years, capping with the most recent bouts of play wrestling on exhibit with Akenji and, just yesterday, repeatedly poking Leo in the behind, which caused him to push her away with his foot as he was trying to rest.

I like when she shows her mischievous/curious and playful side the most—when she sits next to Leo while he gets his daily hand treatment and cleaning and plays with the physical rehab props we use with him. Or when she runs past Akenji from a safe distance and playfully tags her. When she squeezes into the door ahead of her mom and swipes the bowl of applesauce her mom gets in the evening—rushing off to eat it in an area that Nadiri cannot easily get to. 

In the evenings, she becomes a wild child and swings and somersaults—being an overly-energetic 2-year-old when we’re trying to feed her dinner. She’ll grab a piece of food in one hand and set off for a swing, eating as she goes.

When she tries to elude her mom’s embrace when we’re shifting them around for meals. (Nadiri knows that she needs to wrangle her baby and shift with her, which Yola doesn’t always want to do.) Yola wants to be with Nadiri and would be upset if we shifted Nadiri away, but she loves the thrill of escaping her mom’s arms and running off… much like any toddler.

We’re just all so glad that she seems to be equally stimulated by her group members and the public at the viewing windows. She seems to genuinely find enjoyment engaging with the kids that come to see her, more so than the adults.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Keepers tell us that just like any 2-year-old she isn’t shy about showing her preferences either, one of which is tossing unwanted food items out of her room, towards her keepers. It’s usually a raw carrot or a cucumber chunk, but they say even flying vegetables are pretty adorable when it’s coming from Yola!

Happy birthday Yola! Hope year 2 is full of your favorite fruits, lots of play time and plenty of treetop adventures.

What you can do for gorillas

Yola is at the center of her gorilla family. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

All gorillas are threatened by habitat loss, wildlife trade, hunting, disease and human conflict. Critically endangered and losing ground every day in the wild, gorillas need our help.

Recycle cell phones for gorillas

Come recycle your handheld electronics with us through ECO-CELL to preserve gorilla habitat. By reclaiming the minerals in your electronics and diverting them from landfills, we can reduce demand for mining in gorilla habitat. 

How: Bring any old cellphones, MP3 players, or tablets hanging around your house to the zoo and drop them off at our ECO-CELL station at Woodland Park Zoo's West Membership.

Funds generated from recycled electronics will go toward our Mbeli Bai Gorilla Project that works to protect gorilla families like Yola’s in the Republic of Congo. 

Buy sustainable wood

By purchasing FSC-certified forest products, you can help protect gorilla habitat by encouraging sustainable forestry and curbing illegal logging. Without the FSC label, your timber might come from illegal or destructive sources in central Africa. Do the right thing and support companies that are FSC certified.

Adopt a ZooParent gorilla

ZooParent adoptions are the perfect gift for budding conservationists. Your ZooParent adoption helps us provide exceptional care for all of Woodland Park Zoo's amazing animals. Plus, your support contributes to our conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world.

Visit the zoo

Every visit to Woodland Park Zoo helps support conservation efforts like our Wildlife Survival Fund project, the Mbeli Bai Study. The study researches the social organization and behaviors of more than 450 lowland gorillas living in the Republic of Congo, providing the scientific basis for conservation strategies.

Yola learning the ropes earlier this year. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sunbittern chick makes fluffy debut

Posted by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

The cutest, fluffiest little sunbittern chick hatched recently in the Tropical Rain Forest (TRF) canopy!  

Hello, little one!
At  two or three weeks old, it can already be seen stretching its legs and its trademark long, thin neck around the nest. If you are willing to crane your own neck a bit, you can get a good view!

Camouflage fluff keeps baby hidden in the nest.
Sunbitterns typically look for dips in tree branches to lay their eggs, lining the nests with mud, moss, plant fibers, and other soft materials. Females lay between one and two eggs, and both sexes share the nest guarding, incubation, and brooding duties.

Once the egg(s) hatches, usually in about thirty days, the parents will continue to share feeding and brooding duties.

A lesson in how to gulp grubs makes for a picture perfect image.
Sticking close to mom, for now.
Our chick fledged the nest recently and its downy plumage is already beginning to be replaced with adult feathers. Those same feathers will result in the sunbittern’s signature plumage, which when displayed with spread wings will appear to be a large, colorful set of eyes. The birds use the impressive display for courtship, and to deter potential threats and predators. 

The chick is already showing the beautiful linear patterns of black, grey and brown.
It’s been four years since our last sunbittern chick hatched and hand-reared by keeper staff. That same bird, a female, is now the mother of our newest chick !

Feed me! The chick will demand lots of snacks from its parents as it grows.
Once our new chick is grown and independent, its final home will be determined by the Species Survival Plan for sunbitterns, which Woodland Park Zoo coordinates for accredited conservation zoos nationally.

But until then, pay a visit to the TRF canopy and be sure to look up!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Home Sweet Home Thanks to Seattle Park District Funds

Posted by Kizz Prusia, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

There really is no place like home. Home is where we rest, relax and where we go to recharge. For our residents—the 1,200 animals who call Woodland Park Zoo home— home is where they snooze, play, explore and snack.

Seeing Woodland Park Zoo as a home is crucial to how we care for our animals—and just like your home—the zoo needs improvement from time to time to stay in top condition.

We are extremely grateful to Seattle voters for passing the Seattle Park District ballot measure nearly three years ago. The funding provided by the Park District—about $1.8 million a year—goes toward maintaining our dens, trees, caves, hot rocks, roofs and watering holes.

With this funding, we are able to update old parts of the zoo and keep new parts well-maintained. We consider this “home improvement” to also be preventative maintenance. We’d like to highlight a couple of important projects we have done around the zoo this year.  

Keep warm, keep well 

Some of our favorite memories are made around warmth. Snuggled up under blankets, cozy and sharing the heat with people we love. Baby gorilla Yola and mom Nadiri share the warmth with each other in the gorilla den they call home.

The gorilla dens at the zoo just got a major upgrade. With the design and final installation of a new air-handling and heating system, the gorillas will be cozy for months to come. These additions were completed at the end of September. This type of improvement allows the zoo to continue to provide excellent welfare just in time for the winter months. Thanks to Seattle Park District funding for making it possible to stay cozy. 

Walk this way

The zoo’s Northern Trail Boardwalk replacement project has begun! With Seattle Park District funding, Woodland Park Zoo will be able to entirely replace the original wood structure which has stood since 1993.

The Northern Trail mimics the habitat of Alaska’s tundra and taiga region and features animals that make this area their home including: brown bears, Roosevelt elk, river otters, snowy owls, mountain goat and Steller’s sea eagles. The new design was completed in June of 2017, followed by construction, which will continue throughout the end of the year. The new boardwalk leading in and out of the area will make it easier for guests to visit the animals and was made possible by Park District funding.

Could I trouble you for some browse?

When we are not busy making changes for home improvement and preventative maintenance we are busy sharing meals with those we love. At the zoo meals for several animals is browse—branches, twigs, and other forms of vegetation—and is typically collected by the horticulture team. 

This past month the zoo’s Horticulture team received a helping hand from City of Seattle Parks and Recreation. After hearing from the zoo, Parks promptly responded and helped the zoo collect willow and alder to be shared by #seattlestallestdad Dave. In all, two truckloads of browse were dumped at the giraffe barn.

Although there is an existing connection to Parks through the Seattle Parks District, this food gathering was a unique experience. This was the first joint collection of browse between Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Parks for Dave. We plan on continuing this collection work together moving forward.

We are very thankful to Seattle voters and Seattle Parks for helping us make the zoo a better home for all of our animals! 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Welcome Joy and Scarlet, new maned wolves

Posted by Alissa Wolken, Woodland Park Zoo
Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

We have some new long-legged creatures to introduce you to! We welcomed two female maned wolves, sisters Joy and Scarlet, from the Little Rock Zoo in mid-October. You can now visit them at their exhibit in the zoo’s Wildlife Survival Zone.

Neither a fox nor a wolf, Chrysocyon is a species all its own with stilt-like legs, a pointed muzzle, an impressive red coat and dark mane along the back.
At home in the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America, these crepuscular canines roam the marshes and woodlands at dawn and dusk in search of fruit, small mammals, birds, eggs and invertebrates. 

The arrival of Joy and Scarlet followed the departure of the our sole maned wolf, Vinny. Vinny was recommended to be sent to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to be paired with a female for breeding under the maned wolf Species Survival Plan, explains Shawn Pedersen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. Little Rock Zoo was looking for a home for their two young females, so we were able to move Joy and Scarlet here.

Since arriving in mid-October, the nearly 1-year-old sisters (born December 21, 2016) are settling into their new home quite well. “These two are young, playful and are adjusting well to their new surroundings,” says Pedersen. “Joy and Scarlet are relaxed around people; they even take their food gently from the zookeepers.” Some of the girls’ favorite foods include any meat or prey items, dry kibble and bananas; one of their least favorite foods is tomatoes. Other things the girls have in common, “they love chasing sprinklers and they seem to be avid hunters.”

Maned wolves aren’t as vocal as other wild dogs; instead they use their pungent urine as a clear form of communication.
In their short time at Woodland Park Zoo, Joy and Scarlet’s animal care team has also picked up on physical and behavioral traits that individualize the girls. “Joy is the dominant and more aloof wolf,” said Pedersen. “Scarlet is much less shy around people and the more playful of the two. Physically, the biggest difference seems to be the tips of their ears. Though subtle, Scarlet's ears have more of a flattish top.”

Maned wolves are large canids that have fox-like characteristics, an impressive red coat, large ears, and stilt-like legs, adapted for living in the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America, from Brazil to the dry shrub forests of Paraguay and northern Argentina.

A maned wolf can tell a lot by sniffing another’s scent mark. Often used as a means of marking territory, the strong “perfume” can act as a warning to other maned wolves up to a mile away.
In the wild, the gentle and timid maned wolves are primarily solitary, although a breeding pair usually remains monogamous and shares the same territory. Maned wolves are listed as near threatened due to loss of habitat by encroaching human populations, the introduction of certain diseases and hunting for their body parts, believed to have medicinal healing powers. Only about 13,000 remain in the wild.

Curious and always checking out the scents in their new digs.
Accredited zoos are responding to species decline and are leading the way in preserving animal populations, including maned wolves. Conservation breeding of threatened and endangered animals is conducted through Species Survival Plans (SSP), conservation breeding programs coordinated through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 108 SSPs. 

Testing out Pumpkin Bash treats in late October.