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Showing posts from March, 2019

Empathy and the 21st Century Zoo: Building a Movement for Sustainability

Posted by: Alejandro Grajal, PhD, President and CEO, Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s mission to save species and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives depends on our ability to convince people that they can be the heroes of their own conservation stories. The first step on that journey is recognizing our connection to nature and wild creatures.

Watch: https://youtu.be/CIZnvA4y3RQ

Zoos and aquariums strive to make that connection tangible and vibrant, often to great effect. I’m sure that you can remember the last time you were at a zoo or aquarium, whether it was yesterday or 20 years ago. The Empathy Project at Woodland Park Zoo is working to apply scientific research to the concept of empathy and how its influenced by experiences at our zoo. Empathy is defined as a stimulated emotional state that relies on the ability to perceive, understand, and care about the experiences or perspectives of another person or animal.

That’s why our zoo co-created Adva…

Otterly Wonderful News: Valkyrie gives birth to four river otter pups!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by Animal Keeper Allison Barr


We have some extremely exciting news to share with you. On March 16, Valkyrie, our fierce, fast and precocious river otter gave birth to four little pups. These baby otters are the first offspring for mom Valkyrie and dad Ziggy, who are both 5 years old.
The pups are very tiny, fuzzy and snuggled up close to mom in a cozy off-view den. At just weeks old, the pups are busy nursing and curling up into adorable otter balls while they sleep. Animal care staff are closely monitoring the new family via a den cam. “The first year is crucial for otter pups. Because Valkyrie is a first-time mother, we want to be sure she’s providing appropriate care for each pup,” explains animal care manager Deanna DeBo. “We’re happy to report each pup has a fully belly, a good sign they’re nursing. She’s being a good mom and providing attentive maternal care.”
Our animal health team was able to do a quick wellness check on the pups…

Community Howls for Wildlife Heroes

Posted by Alexa Woodard, Engagement
Thrive 2019 was an amazing show of support from our community. Woodland Park Zoo’s Thrive 2019 Wildlife Heroes, our signature conservation-focused fundraising event of the year, took place at Fremont Studios on February 27th with more than 400 zoo supporters attending. Funds raised will support the zoo’s Living Northwest program, which saves species, engages students in inquiry-based science learning and protects ecosystems right here at home.

Co-chaired by Sandra Andrews of Microsoft and Anders Brown of Valence, Thrive Wildlife Heroes brought together Puget Sound region businesses, community and conservation leaders, and philanthropists to advance the mission of the zoo.
The Thrive Wildlife Heroes event also kicked off Woodland Park Zoo’s significant new efforts to raise funds for our Living Northwest Initiative. The funds will expand and advance our Living Northwest conservation and education programs, as well as support a re-imagined Living Nort…

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Baby Giraffe

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
With Lead Animal Keeper Katie Ahl

Have you “herd” the news? We recently announced that Olivia the giraffe is expecting her second baby this spring! Olivia had her first baby in 2013, but this will be the first offspring between Olivia and Dave.

There is a lot of excitement around a giraffe pregnancy, and a lot of hard work that goes into preparing and planning for a birth and a baby giraffe. We chatted with animal keeper (and giraffe doula) Katie Ahl to find out what to expect when you’re expecting a baby giraffe.

WPZ: First off, how’s Olivia doing?

Katie: Olivia is doing very well. She’s eating well and seems comfortable and relaxed. We have been planning for this pregnancy for almost 2 years. We took Olivia off birth control late in 2017 and started monitoring her cycle to see when she would be in estrus. This is a very small window of about 24 hours so we had to keep an eye on her so we wouldn’t miss it. She and Dave bred in January of 20…

Anything for Animals: Selat the Komodo dragon gets VIP treatment for arthritis

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

What do you do when your 150-pound Komodo dragon needs to visit the doctor? You put him in the car and drive to the vet’s office, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple—but a recent appointment for Selat, one of our older Komodo dragons, provides a good opportunity to show how our awesome animal care team comes up with custom plans to meet the health needs of every critter in our care. Whether we’re working with the small and fluffy or the large and scaly, our team will do anything for animals!


Selat is a 20-year-old male Komodo who is geriatric. Like many aging animals (and humans) he is experiencing mobility issues in his joints and limbs related to advanced osteo-arthritis. For the last couple years, Woodland Park Zoo staff have been working side by side with staff from SOUND Veterinary Rehabilitation Center in Shoreline to manage Selat’s day-to-day comfort. They do this through a combination of oral medications and rehabilitation thera…

Local black bear gets second chance thanks to community of wildlife specialists

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
Photos by PAWS Wildlife Center

Sometimes wild animals need a little help. In this case, a particularly big wild animal needed more than a little help. Today, this female American black bear is resting comfortably, healing and recovering at PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood—but a few months ago her very survival was dependent on the cooperation of several partners dedicated to wildlife conservation.

In early December, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) received a call about a female bear that had been hit by a car in Poulsbo, Washington, east of Seattle. Black bears aren’t often seen in our region at that time of year because they typically den up for the winter months, but they do occasionally wake to move around or change denning sites. It took several days of searching but wildlife officers were finally able to locate and immobilize the bear, which was initially reported to be dragging her hind legs but seemed able to move sl…