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Showing posts from 2018

Snakes, spiders and reptiles find safe haven at Woodland Park Zoo

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

Sometimes animals need our support protecting their wild habitat and sometimes animals need our help finding a new home. Luckily, we were recently able to assist in two different cases where the expertise of zoo staff found a safe and appropriate new home for some very special creatures—and this story does have a happy ending.
A collection of reptiles owned by a woman who recently passed away in southern Wash. is now in the care of Woodland Park Zoo. The dozen exotic reptiles include several Gila (pronounced HEE-la) monsters, copperheads and vipers of various species.
Friends of the deceased woman asked the zoo if it could take the snakes and lizards. “As a community service, Woodland Park Zoo accepts all venomous reptiles, whether privately owned or confiscated by local agencies,” said Jennifer Pramuk, PhD., a curator at Woodland Park Zoo and an amphibian and reptile expert. “These people cared deeply for their friend who passed away and wanted…

Have you met Zeus the mountain goat?

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Zeus the mountain goat, much like the king of the Greek gods who hailed from Mount Olympus, is handsome, athletic and sports a stunning white beard. Unlike his namesake, he will not be married to the goddess Hera, instead he’ll kick it with his new BFF Daisy.

Back in September, we told you about a group of non-native mountain goats being translocated from Olympic National Park during a multi-agency operation to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades. The effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership of the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS), with support from area tribes. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

Video: A zen moment with the herd on the Northern Trail. Video: https://youtu.be/F-W8CXmanEU

All in all, there were 98 mountain goat…

Good News for Gorillas

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives

Woodland Park Zoo is delighted to announce the good news that the highly threatened mountain gorilla has reached the point in its recovery that its status has been downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

The decision was made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the international organization that tracks the conservation status of animal and plant species. The decision shows the slow but steady increase in the population of this great ape due to concentrated protection efforts over the last few decades.

There are still only about a thousand mountain gorillas left in the wild, found in a few scattered populations in the mountains of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa. The mountain gorillas have been facing threats from poaching, habitat destruction, and repeated civil conflicts that have forced local people into protected areas and led to …

Rhino Lookout: How Local Kids Are Saving Rhinos

posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications


At Woodland Park Zoo, we want to inspire people of all ages to make conservation a priority in their lives. Taj and Glenn want that, too! In case you haven’t met them yet, Taj and Glenn are the greater one-horned rhinos who moved into the zoo’s new Assam Rhino Reserve earlier this year, and they are already inspiring the next generation of wildlife protectors. That generation includes lots of motivated kids of all ages who are active in their communities and schools. They want to save wildlife. They want to make a difference. And we want you to know about them!


We recently shared a story with you about children who live in the Manas community of Assam, India. They take an oath every day at school with their fellow classmates to protect the wildlife and wild places near where they live. It just so happens that where they live is right next to Manas National Park—home to animals found nowhere else on earth including pygmy hogs, golden langurs …

Earn a Master's Degree that Enables You to be a Conservation Leader

Posted by Ryan Driscoll, Lead Learning Facilitator, Science & Conservation Education

Have you dreamed of going back to school? Are you looking for ways to make a difference in your community and for the environment? Since 2001, Woodland Park Zoo has been partnering with Miami University of Ohio to offer a groundbreaking graduate degree that allows students to become conservation leaders within their communities and globally. Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master’s students and alumni are agents for positive environmental change are they have amazing stories to share. Maybe they'll inspire you to take conservation action!

This blog features current AIP student Margaret Hanzlick-Burton. She shares how her AIP experience has given her the courage to engage with new communities in Seattle, across the United States, and in Borneo. Check it out!

WPZ: Why did you apply to the Advanced Inquiry Program?

My road to the AIP is long and winding. I have a bachelor’s degree in theatre per…

Vote for education, clean air, and a future for wildlife

Posted by Alejandro Grajal, PhD, President and CEO

One of the most cherished rights of humans is the ability to influence our destiny. Democracies enable the right to vote, which is missing in many parts of the world. While in the United States, voters this fall may wait in long lines this election season, here in Washington all you need to do is put your ballot in the mail. Easy!
Ballots are arriving in your mailbox now for the November ballot, and at the zoo, we are urging all of our supporters to vote.  In addition to many very important races at the local level, there are two important initiatives on the ballot.
For those of you in Seattle, there is Prop 1, the Families,Education, Preschool and Promise Plan.  Prop 1 replaces two levies about to expire – one that helps preschool and one that targets needs in K-12 (including helping students go to community college). These levies were the result of work by our City Council, and the Mayor has given her support to their renewal, as h…

A reflection on this International Snow Leopard Day

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives

The names are so evocative that they feel fictional—the Himalayas, the Karakorams, the Hindu Kush, the Tien Shans, the Altais—the world’s greatest mountains, soaring above the clouds, blocking global weather patterns, and changing the very nature of the vast continent of Asia.

In and among these enormous mountains, villagers have scratched out a living carving tiny farm plots out of the precipitous cliffs, moving their small herds of livestock up and down the steep slopes to find pasture. Traders have struggled to drag their goods through the high passes on the historic Silk Routes to sell spices, share ideas, and change the course of history. And of course men have fought wars and built kingdoms in these fearsome mountains, from Genghis and Kublai Khan’s great empires to Britain and Russia’s Great Game global power struggle of the 1800s, to local rulers reigning over individual watersheds, their tiny kingdoms impregn…

The ZooCrew Zoo: Middle School Youth Dive Into Exhibit Design

Posted by Ryan Driscoll, Education


Editor's note: Through the ZooCrew programs, we invite youth from traditionally underserved communities to dive into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects by engaging with real-world conservation issues, preparing them for continued involvement in Woodland Park Zoo’s youth programs, and inspire them to consider a broad range of STEM and conservation careers. This story is a peek into our 2018 summer ZooCrew learning session. 
This summer, the ZooCrew Summer Learning Program let the students pick the theme and explored the world of zoos and aquariums through the lens of exhibit design.Over two four-week sessions this summer, 25 students from middle schools around Seattle explored the variety of perspectives and careers that are involved in planning and creating animal exhibits.Taking what they learned from field trips to other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) institutions, meetings with staff at a zoo architecture firm,…

Rhino Lookout: Meet Benny, a certified good boy

Video: Meet Benny, a certified good boy. 

When Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Detective Lauren Wendt was searching for a new recruit, she had some criteria in mind: high energy, relentless drive, sharp senses, and a love of toys.

“We knew we wanted to rescue a dog,” says Detective Wendt, who took the initiative to start Washington’s first wildlife crime detection dog program. Wendt scoured the Internet looking for a good fit. That’s when she found a then 16-month-old black Labrador retriever who had too much energy for his family and needed to be re-homed.

“Some of these dogs that get labeled as bad dogs or just have too much energy, if you give them a job to do they are so much happier. That is exactly what happened with K9 Benny.”



Sure, his paycheck is a rigorous round of tug-of-war with his favorite rope ball, but K9 Benny’s work is serious business. His nose can detect some of the most trafficked illegal wildlife parts—rhino horn, elephant ivory, bear gallbladder and s…