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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Woodland Park Zoo’s historic carousel is 100 years old!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

This summer, Woodland Park Zoo is celebrating a very special birthday: Our Historic Carousel, which has been at the zoo since 2006, turns 100 years old! We love that this grand piece of cultural history has been part of so many special moments for our guests, and we hope it will be part of many more to come.

Woodland Park Zoo Historic Carousel. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
The carousel, which features hand-carved horses and two chariots, was first constructed in 1918 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and was only the 45th of its kind to be made. It has previously operated at the Cincinnati Zoo and the Great America Theme Park in Santa Clara, California. Eighteen years ago, Linda and Tom Allen, Candy Allen-Whitney and Thomas Allen and the Alleniana Foundation purchased the carousel and generously donated it to the zoo in the hope that generations of families would have the opportunity to experience a celebrated piece of American history. 

That dream finally came to fruition with a grand opening celebration in 2006 after a pavilion was built adjacent to the zoo’s North Meadow to house and protect the carousel. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have taken a spin on it and a portion of the fee for each ride goes to support the zoo's quality animal care and education programs.

Linda Allen, pictured with some of the carousel horses. 2004 photo by Seattle P-I
The historic carousel may be a century old but it has some very modern features too. In 2011, Seattle City Light helped us to install solar panels on the pavilion roof. The panels produce the 9,000 annual kilowatt-hours required to power the carousel, making it an important part of Woodland Park Zoo’s sustainability goal of reducing our carbon emissions to 25% below our 2009 levels by the year 2022. Click here to see a gauge of how much power it is generating over the last days, months and years.

Photo by Lauren LaPlante, Woodland Park Zoo.
Solar panels are installed on the roof of the carousel pavilion in 2011. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

The carousel completes an average of 100,000 rides per year for zoo guests of all ages—those who are young and those who are young-at-heart. Recently, zoo guest and supporter, Wendy Parsons even took her very first spin on the carousel to celebrate her 90th birthday! Happy birthday, Wendy! You’re welcome to come for a ride anytime.

Wendy Parsons, with husband Dave by her side, takes a spin on the historic carousel to celebrate her 90th birthday!
Woodland Park Zoo also provides around 7,500 free rides per year to ensure that the carousel remains available to all. In addition, the zoo partners with more than 600 human service organizations across Puget Sound to offer hundreds of thousands of complimentary zoo passes through its Community Access Program. Starting this year, a free carousel ride is included with every Community Access Program admission ticket. To further promote accessibility, the zoo has created the Zoo for All Endowment Fund to help ensure that the zoo’s extraordinary experiences remain affordable and inclusive for all children in the zoo’s shared community for centuries to come.

Catching a spin. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
We hope you’ll help us celebrate the Historic Carousel’s 100th birthday this summer! A 100th birthday celebration will take place June 28th on the North Meadow with an evening program that includes a relighting ceremony, guest speakers, complimentary cake pops for the first 500 guests and "carouselfie" opportunities. Free rides will start at 6:30 p.m. and the zoo will stay open until 8:30 p.m. as part of the Evening Zoo extended hours, which happens on select summer nights. All guests are encouraged to tag pics—be they old or new—with #WPZcarousel100 and #woodlandparkzoo to share your special memories!

Seattle Seafair princesses in 2013. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
The thrill of your first ride. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Celebrating your own birthday soon? Give your party animals a birthday to remember! A guaranteed party of a lifetime, the Historic Carousel features two special party rooms for the birthday child's party and carousel rides for up to 20 guests. Kids will delight in riding these antique carousel horses and it's sure to be a party remembered for the rest of their life!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Celebrating birth of red panda twins!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

For the first time in nearly three decades, we are celebrating the birth of red pandas: twin cubs born on June 19 to 2-year-old mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko. The twins are the first offspring for Hazel while Yukiko has had offspring before he arrived at Woodland Park Zoo four years ago.

Video: Red panda twins receive a quick health check from veterinary staff: https://youtu.be/XRlEBfQth9s

The cubs are both girls, weighing in at 5 ounces each, confirmed during a neonatal exam. The zoo veterinary team says the twins are appropriate weightsa good indicator they are healthy and nursing. "We will continue to perform health check-ups periodically, particularly during the first several weeks, for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling,” says Dr. Darin Collins.

Both Hazel and Yukiko have been living off-view indoor and outdoors. Hazel gave birth in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she is nursing and bonding with her cubs. Because red pandas are largely solitary, Yukiko will remain separated from the new family. 

This is Hazel, the mother of the twins. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren. Woodland Park Zoo.

This is Yukiko, father of the new twins. Photo by John Loughlin, Woodland Park Zoo.

Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo, said the first month is an important time for newborn red pandas. “We’re monitoring the new family via a den cam to ensure the cubs are thriving. Our animal care staff have minimal physical contact with the mom and cubs in order to minimize disturbance and allow Hazel a quiet environment. At this early stage, we’re seeing great maternal care and nursing events,” says Myers.

The gestation period for red pandas, between 90 and 160 days, varies widely because female red pandas have the ability to delay implanting a fertile egg. Red pandas are born extremely small and blind at birth, and rely solely on their mom for care. During the first several days of their lives, they do little but nurse and sleep. The twins should open their eyes at 2 to 3 weeks of age.

The animal care team is currently discussing potential plans for allowing the public to see Hazel and her cubs toward the end of the summer. “Red pandas are very charismatic animals. We have a large following of red panda fans at our zoo and on social media, so it’s our hope we can share our new family with zoo guests in the near future,” said Myers.

Hazel arrived at Woodland Park Zoo two years ago to be paired with Yukiko under the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of red pandas. 

This is Carson, a red panda who lives at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

Red pandas share the name of giant pandas, but more closely resemble raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to skunks, weasels and raccoons.

An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with giant pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal. Help support the project by adopting a red panda through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.

We are so thrilled to welcome the twins! Mom, Hazel, is doing a great job protecting her cubs and nursing. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

We are thrilled to welcome the twins and look forward to sharing more with you all right here as we watch them grow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Seattle’s tallest baby is now Seattle’s tallest 1 year old giraffe! Happy birthday Lulu! We love you!

Sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too! Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo
The birthday girl and her animal keepers celebrated the occasion with a specially-made giraffe cake: an ice fruit cake adorned with an assortment of her favorite treats, leaves, and leaf eater biscuits with her name carved out of apple slices and the centerpiece #1 carved out of sweet potato.

Delicious and nutritious! A cake fit for a giraffe. Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo. 
Dad Dave, mom Tufani and aunt Olivia were all there to “help” her eat her cake!

In September, Lulu will be old enough to move to a new zoo where she could eventually start her own family. Her future home will be Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska. This move is part of a recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program that works across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy and genetically diverse population of giraffes. We'll miss Lulu, but we know Lincoln Children's Zoo will be a fantastic home for our girl.

Sometimes it takes a herd to finish the job. Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo.

Lulu will be here all summer so there’s still plenty of time for you to come say hello.

Video of little Lulu's first year: https://youtu.be/VbdV5XWKeTQ 

World Giraffe Day is June 21, 2018. In honor of Lulu, the zoo asks giraffe fans to stick their necks out and help support conservation efforts by visiting Woodland Park Zoo and supporting Wildlife Survival Fund projects, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which seeks to provide the first long-term ecological monitoring effort of the Angolan giraffe—an important desert-dwelling giraffe subspecies in north-western Namibia.

Happy Birthday, Lulu! Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo.
Visit http://www.zoo.org/conservation to learn more about the zoo’s conservation partnerships taking place in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Lulu, and all the giraffes on the Savanna, thank you for helping protect about wildlife and wild places.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Coexisting with Carnivores: Recent Events

Editor’s note: Morgan Jensen is a high school senior at Bear Creek High School in Redmond, Washington. Morgan completed his graduating Capstone project as a community affairs intern at Woodland Park Zoo. Next month, he is heading to South Carolina, where he'll begin college at The Citadel. Morgan spots carnivores often in his backyard in east King County, and thinks it's pretty cool.

Posted by Morgan Jensen, Community Affairs Intern

The City of Issaquah and Woodland Park Zoo have something in common: each provide an opportunity to see many great animals up close. Surrounded on three sides by forested mountains and Lake Sammamish to the north, the Issaquah area is also home to abundant wildlife, including some of Washington’s most charismatic carnivores: black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and cougars. While sharing space with these animals has potential to lead to conflict, residents can take many actions to ensure a peaceful coexistence with carnivores. This is where the zoo steps in.

Photo of black bear by @miguelb via Flickr

Coexisting with Carnivores, a Woodland Park Zoo and City of Issaquah collaboration, is an exciting program providing Issaquah residents with opportunities to appreciate these local creatures, as well as practices that make coexistence easier—both for people living in the community, and the animals that call Issaquah home.

In early May, residents gathered at two community launch events, one at Blakely Hall in the Issaquah Highlands and one at the Rogue Ales Issaquah Brewhouse. Residents shared their feelings about living with carnivores. The majority thought it was ‘pretty cool’ that they live in a place where they may see a bear in their front yard. One resident wrote, “I enjoy seeing them. It is always a good surprise.” Another said, “I feel grateful because I live where I have the opportunity to see beautiful carnivores and other wildlife.” Though not everyone in the community thinks living with these animals is such a positive experience. For example, one resident wrote “I feel scared [to live with carnivores] because of my small dogs”, while another stated, “One thing I sometimes worry about is raccoons killing cats and chickens.” Concern for small pets was the most common worry voiced during the Coexisting with Carnivores events.

Particiapnts check out some Pacific Northwest biofacts.
As residents learned, a majority of these fears can be avoided with practices such as putting garbage cans out the morning of pick up rather than the night before, and keeping pets inside at night. Those who attended the community event tried out a wildlife-resistant trashcan. The same can has been tested by our very own grizzly bears, who have never been able to open it, despite the delicious salmon smell coming from a fishy treat left inside the can by their keepers (Don’t worry, the bears still received a fish for their participation). Other engagement stations included a carnivore tracking activity complete with kinetic sand, carnivore pelts and skulls, a camera trap matching activity, information from waste management company Recology, and an interactive carnivore map. University of Washington Master’s candidate and carnivore expert, Michael Havrda, joined with camera trap photos and data about local carnivores.

Coexisting with Carnivores will continue with future events, including talks by some of Washington’s best and brightest carnivore experts. The zoo will also partner with the City of Issaquah Parks Department to help volunteers conduct camera trapping in the region, to learn more about the carnivores that live in and near Issaquah. Residents will also have the opportunity to join community groups whose goal is to create and implement solutions to help prevent carnivore conflicts in their neighborhoods.

Guests take a look at some of the camera trap photos collected from nearby locations.
Programs like Coexisting with Carnivores allow community members to determine which are the most important problems that face their community, and create solutions that meet a community’s specific needs. As this program develops, Woodland Park Zoo and the City of Issaquah hope that residents will feel empowered to address some of the most difficult issues that come with living alongside these local critters.  

To learn more, please visit: www.zoo.org/coexisting

Friday, June 8, 2018

Meet Papú, the newest zoo ambassador-in-training

Posted by: Elizabeth Bacher, Staff Writer

Meet Papú, our newest and smallest ambassador-in-training.
 Hello Papú! Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo
Ambassador animals have an important role at Woodland Park Zoo—they allow visitors to have up-close experiences and serve as catalysts for educating about their species. By interacting with them, we learn more about their wild cousins. We learn more about ourselves and our impacts on the ecosystem. We are moved to protect them and the wild spaces they represent. Simply put, we love them and they inspire us to make conservation a priority in our lives. It’s a big responsibility.

What does it take to become an ambassador—to fulfill such an important role connecting people to wildlife? The answers to these big questions can often be found in the littlest places—and in this case, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball. The tiny egg came to Woodland Park Zoo from Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.

Day 0. This egg, barely the size of a ping-pong ball came to Woodland Park Zoo from Sacramento Zoo, where parents were not able to incubate it. Photo by Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo
On April 17, a feisty little bird pipped its way out of that egg. Meet Papú, a male. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “burrowing owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of Eastern Washington and it is also the name of his species. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and like all birds at hatching, his eyes were not open yet.

Barely 2 days old and only inches long, Papú rests in the hands of one of his dedicated keepers. Photo by Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo
Right away, he captured the hearts of the dedicated animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little owl-self. He is quickly capturing our hearts too.

Papú and animal keeper, Susan. Photo by Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo
Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are small, long-legged owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.

When fully grown, an adult burrowing owl has mottled brown and white plumage with yellow eyes and a yellow bill. Photo by Karen Riesz via Flickr, Creative Commons.
They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are often active during the day, doing most of their hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards between dusk and dawn. The burrowing owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.

Day 15. Papú’s eyes are open now so he (and we) can see his long legs! Evolving in open grasslands as opposed to forests, allowed the burrowing owl to develop longer limbs that enable it to sprint, as well as fly, when hunting. Photo by Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo
Over the next weeks and months, we’ll follow Papú as he grows and bonds with his keepers. We’ll provide lots of updates on what he’s learning and what we’re learning from him. For now, his education involves short trips outside (in the arms of one of his keepers) mixed with lots of exploring around the zoo’s raptor barn. Every day he spends time bonding with his keepers as he exercises and learns to coordinate those long burrowing owl legs.

Day 31. A trip outside in the arms of one of his keepers. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo
His curiosity is rewarded with lots of little breaks for tasty cricket snacks—a burrowing owl favorite.
He’s 7 weeks old now, and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.

Day 43. Six weeks old now, Papú is starting to get some adult feathers and is exercising his wings as his flight muscles develop. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo
At this point, his flights are limited to mostly practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.

 Papú in his cozy basket. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo
In the coming months, he’ll work with his keepers—they are his family—to master the most important role of being an ambassador animal: meeting and greeting zoo guests. We'll check in on his progress as he grows, but for now, he’s just a cute and curious young owlet. Welcome to the world, little one!

Papú and his proud Animal Keeper, Susan. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Papú enjoys an afternoon head rub. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
We’re already in love with you!