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Showing posts from October, 2018

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…

We must protect our wildlife: Woodland Park Zoo endorses Initiative 1631

Posted by Alejandro Grajal, PhD, President and CEO

When will we address climate change? Will it be when salmon can no longer spawn in Washington waters? Will we do something to curb carbon pollution once the orca has gone extinct? Or will we do nothing as wild species disappear one by one throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world?

This November, Washington state must vote to protect wildlife for generations. If passed, Initiative 1631 would be the first Carbon Fee enacted by popular vote in the world. Woodland Park Zoo fully endorses Initiative 1631 because the health of the Puget Sound region, its people, and wildlife are impacted by climate change.


Initiative 1631 brings together a wide and deep coalition of citizens from agriculture, manufacturing, business, labor, Tribes, communities of color, environmentalists, and faith communities – Initiative 1631 is truly a citizen’s initiative. Democracy starts with those who participate in it. The broad and diverse coalition behind In…

Silverback gorilla, Kwame, meets his new family for the first time: A story from behind-the-scenes

Written by Stephanie Payne-Jacobs, gorilla keeper

Note from the Editor: We told you earlier about Kwame, a ninteen-year-old male western lowland gorilla who came to Woodland Park Zoo from Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. just last month. That story picks up here in the words of Stephanie Payne-Jacobs, one of our dedicated gorilla keepers. She reminds us of why Kwame was chosen to be the new silverback for a group of our females and then takes us through their first days of forming a family. 


Beginnings Our search for a new silverback, the adult male leader of a gorilla family, began just weeks after Leo’s passing in March 2018. While still processing the loss of sweet Leo, we knew we had to begin the search in order to bring a sense of normality back to the lives of the females Leo had left behind. These females, 22-year-old Nadiri, 17-year-old Akenji, Uzumma, who is about to turn 11, and almost 3-year-old Yola, were faring well, but none of them had ever been withou…

What is it like to intern at Woodland Park Zoo?

Posted by Daphne Matter, ZooCorps Intern

Editor's note: This post was written by our lovely ZooCorps Communications Intern, Daphen Matter. Daphne is a high school student who spent the majority of her summer with the social media and communications team at Woodland Park Zoo. We were very lucky to get to know Daphne and all of our outstanding 2018 ZooCorps interns. Thanks to this crew of amazing teens, our summer was very productive and educational, for us and them!

ZooCorps is Woodland Park Zoo’s teen volunteer program that gives students the chance to connect with animals, conservation topics, and the public. Teens build leadership skills by engaging with zoo guests, participating in citizen science opportunities, developing useful job skills, and increasing their knowledge of animals and their habitats through the ZooCorps program.



After a competitive process of applications and interviews, 17 of these ZooCorps volunteers were selected for the ZooCorps summer internship. This po…

Celebrate Bat Appreciation Month: Go Batty for Bats!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Every living creature has an important role to play in the ecosystem—a special niche that they evolved to fill. Some are very misunderstood despite the good they do, and this can lead to misconceptions that make some people fearful of nature’s most valuable players. Examples include spiders that help control insect populations and snakes that do the same for rodents. We’d like to introduce you to another often misunderstood creature—one that calls Woodland Park Zoo, home. Meet the Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus)—also called the giant fruit bat.

There are more than 1,000 different species of bats found throughout the world and the Indian flying fox—which is so named for its fox-like appearance—is one of the largest. There can be some color variation, but most of these bats are dark-brown, with tinges of black and grey about their bodies. They have long furry pointed snouts—very foxy—and a gigantic wingspan, the biggest of which can meas…