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Showing posts from September, 2018

Rhino Lookout: A Schoolchild’s Oath

It’s morning and class has not yet begun. The Raghab Bill middle school students in the Manas community of Assam, India gather in the courtyard. Their chatter rivals the mynahs in nearby trees.

An educator emerges from a classroom with a scroll-like poster in his hand. It contains the words that start every schoolchild’s day in Manas.

With little direction, the murmurs recede and the children form neat rows, arms’ distance apart. A small group of students heads to the front of the assembly, commanding the scroll and the audience. After the traditional recital of national and provincial anthems, these student leaders beckon (translated):

“Come, let’s take an oath for conservation!”

“We, the people of the fringe villages of Manas National Park always feel proud,” the oath begins. One of the student leaders calls out the words, while the rows of children echo the pledge back, line by line.

“We shall assist Manas to be the best forest and wildlife area of the world.”

“We shall never kill…

Hey, Seattle: Meet 2,500 zoo and aquarium staff

We are ADVOCATES and DEFENDERS.
We are CHAMPIONS and FRIENDS.
We are SCIENTISTS and RESEARCHERS and so much more.

We are the Association of Zoos & Aquariums: 230-strong accredited member institutions who go to work every day to ensure the conservation of our precious wildlife in their home and in our care.



Video: We Are AZA: Join Us!

This September, Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium will co-host the annual Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) conference. Nearly 2,500 staff from accredited organizations across the nation will gather in Seattle to learn from, challenge and inspire each other to shape the future of community-driven conservation. We’re in it to save species, but we can’t do it alone. The greatest strength of accredited zoos and aquariums is the massive reach and collective impact we have with your support.




As thousands of animal keepers, conservationists, educators, executives, horticulturists, and other zoo and aquarium staff arrive in Seattle this September…

Silverback gorilla Vip is back after nearly a year of recovery from surgery

Posted by Stephanie Payne-Jacobs, gorilla keeper


After a year of challenges and changes in the gorilla unit, we have much to celebrate this month. The first is the return of 39-year-old male, Vip, to the East gorilla exhibit, along with 33-year-old female, Jumoke. Vip, who is the father of seven daughters, including our own 17-year-old Akenji, 10-year-old Uzumma and nearly 3-year-old Yola, has been off view for more than a year now—since June of 2017. That’s when he underwent a lifesaving surgery due to an infection within a long-established umbilical hernia. Vip was born with this hernia in 1979, and it had remained stable since he came to Woodland Park Zoo in 1996.




In the summer of 2017, his care team noticed a subtle change in the size and appearance of Vip’s umbilical hernia along with changes in his behavior and appetite. Shortly thereafter, an ultrasound revealed a life-threatening infection at the hernia site and it was decided that Vip needed emergency surgery to save his li…

Rhino Lookout: Patrolling for Poachers

Inside the watchtower, Mr. Nath pulls on his boots, slings a rifle over his shoulder, straightens out his uniform shirt, and heads for the stairs. He’s one of eight forest guards stationed at Kuri Beel anti-poaching camp inside Manas National Park, Assam, India and he is off on a mission this morning.

It’s time to patrol.



Video | Rhino Lookout: The First Line of Defense

Mr. Nath joins a crew of forest guards setting off from the watchtower as they fan out into the surrounding grasslands. Their long sleeves and pants defend them against blades of grass that tear at bare skin. But these tall grasses potentially conceal a much greater danger still—poachers.




On foot and sometimes on elephant back, forest guards patrol day and night in search of signs of intruders. They look for evidence of human activity—a breached fence, footprints, discarded litter from an illegal poacher encampment. Their morning patrols last two to three hours, and today reveals no signs of trouble for the rhinos and…

As mountain goats are moved from the Olympics, zoos provide homes for goat kids without known mothers

As state and federal agencies move non-native mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains, Woodland Park Zoo is partnering with Northwest Trek and Oregon Zoo to provide permanent homes to goat kids without known mothers.

“Our plan is to translocate nanny-kid pairs when possible,” said Rich Harris, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife statewide mountain goat manager. “But when young goats cannot be paired up with their mothers, experience from other mountain goat translocation projects is that their survival rates are low.”

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park veterinarian Dr. Allison Case joined a team of state and federal veterinarians at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park this week to examine the mountain goats, conduct physical exams and provide preventative and supportive care before their translocation.

Case and Northwest Trek veterinary technician Sara Dunleavy set up a temporary clinic to focus on the goat kids. Working swiftly, they examine…

Rhino Lookout: A Second Chance for Rhinos

In India’s Manas National Park, the greater one-horned rhino population was once poached to extinction.

But now rhinos are getting a second chance there. So are the people of Manas. 
This is the community leading the cause: to look out for rhinos.

Video | Rhino Lookout: A Second Chance for Rhinos.

“Poachers target the rhino because of its horn. Horn earns a lot of money in the international market,” explains Bibhab Talukdar, Asia Coordinator of the International Rhino Foundation, Woodland Park Zoo’s rhino conservation partner in India.
Rhino horn is illegally traded mainly for use in traditional medicines, though it has no medicinal value. It is made of keratin. So are toenails.




“In the late 1980s, early 1990s, there used to be about 80 rhinos in Manas,” according to Bibhab. “But then, due to socio-political unrest, we lost the rhino population. The poachers took advantage of the situation because the law enforcement authorities were particularly busy with restoring the law and order…

2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate? Vultures, like Modoc!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Saturday, September 1st is officially Vulture Awareness Day!

At Woodland Park Zoo, we appreciate vultures like Modoc, our 32-year old turkey vulture, every day! Why? Because vultures all over the world help keep our ecosystems healthy and clean.

Vultures don’t hunt live prey. They’re mostly scavengers that feed on dead animals which would otherwise rot. The acids in their stomach are so strong that they can neutralize all kinds of dangerous germs and bacteria—which helps minimize the spread of disease to other animals and to people.


Even though it might not look like it at first glance, vultures are also role models for good hygiene! Carcasses can be messy, so featherless or lightly feathered heads and necks help to keep them clean as they feed. Some vultures actually urinate on their own legs. Yeah, it sounds a little gross, but scientists think it is actually a defense against disease. Acids in the bird’s urine likely kill off any harmful b…