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Showing posts from May, 2019

Celebrating a long life: Goodbye to Junior, our amazing jaguar

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications
Jaguar Cove won't be the same without the presence of our favorite male jaguar, Junior. The geriatric cat had been off view, living behind the scenes where keepers could keep a close watch on him (spoil him) since late in 2017. Junior was humanely euthanized on May 31 due to a major decline in health and quality of life. Junior was 20 years old. 
The life expectancy of jaguars in zoos is 18 years. The big cats live longer in zoos than in their natural range because of the evolving field of zoo medicine, including improved husbandry and management techniques, excellent animal care, better nutrition, increased medical knowledge, and diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. 
Junior had been living off public view since sustaining a suspected stroke in late 2017. Under the zoo’s prescribed care plan for the geriatric cat, the animal care team closely monitored his condition and physical abilities, making accommodations for his limitations that en…

Hasani's shoes removed after baby giraffe's feet abnormalities improve

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications
Photos by John Loughlin/ Woodland Park Zoo

A couple of weeks ago, our baby giraffe, Hasani got a new pair of custom shoes to treat congenital rear leg abnormalities. Because of significant improvements, the giraffe is now shoe-free.
Hasani was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Immediately after his birth, the zoo’s animal health team noticed each rear foot was not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes. One day after the giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs.

The zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications and a modified design he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition. For the past …

We're Not Doomed.

Posted by Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives
When I was in fourth grade, I frequently sat on the curb of our little street in upstate New York and discussed environmental destruction and the end of the world with my best friend Dave. Admittedly this probably means I was not the most fun fourth grader on the planet to be around, but interestingly I went on to a long conservation career helping to save wildlife around the world, while my friend Dave went into marine conservation, diving with the Cousteau Society among other impressive career notes.

I’ve been reminded of our curbside apocalypse sessions lately because of the recent UN environmental reports, first on climate change and more recently on the estimated one million species under threat of extinction in the next few decades.

It’s a little hard not to be stunned by these reports into a sense of paralysis, if not despair. The threats are so huge that they literally boggle the mind – just imagining the numb…

Western pond turtles get a head start on World Turtle Day

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
Photos by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo is proud to be part of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project. Western pond turtles were once plentiful up and down the coast of Washington to northern California and down to Baja, Mexico. However, loss of habitat, commercial exploitation for food, disease, drought, and introduced predators, such as bullfrogs and large-mouth bass, have decimated populations of the species.

By the early 1990s, only about 150 Western pond turtles remained in two populations in Washington state and the species was nearly extirpated from our region. In 1991, Woodland Park Zoo joined forces with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to recover Western pond turtles by initiating a head-start program, and in 1993 the state officially listed the species as endangered. Oregon Zoo partnered with the project in 2003.

Each spring, WDFW biologists go in the field to monitor the turtles every few hour…

Zoo mourns the loss of Adia, our fierce mama and amazing lioness

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We have some very sad news to share. Our amazing South African lioness, Adia, passed away yesterday, May 21, at 9 years old from complications during surgery. The median life expectancy for lions in zoos is 16.9 years.

Adia came to the zoo as a one-year-old in 2010 and became the foundation of our breeding program. Her first litter astounded us because as she not only gave birth to 4 cubs but also proved to be a fantastic first time mom. She went on to produce one other litter a few years later, this one with her current mate Xerxes. She will always be remembered as a diligent mother and the queen of her pride. Ask Xerxes, who would always follow her lead.

Adia had been anesthetized for a recheck exam at the zoo’s veterinary hospital due to slow healing after recent abdominal surgery. “During yesterday’s procedure, we took radiographs of Adia and discovered complications that required emergency surgery. We were able to surgically resolve these …

How Zoos and Aquariums Are Harnessing Empathy to Save Species

Posted by Wei Ying Wong, Vice President, Learning and Innovation

Zoos and aquariums inspire wonder and forge connections to nature, but that emotional journey may be more powerful than we imagine. Most people can recall, in vivid detail, a time they experienced an emotional connection to an animal—whether visiting a zoo or aquarium or in your own backyard—we call that connection empathy.

Increasingly, research shows that our connection with the natural world, and the creatures in it, inspire us to commit to making sustainable choices. Woodland Park Zoo has embarked on a journey to scientifically interrogate the mechanisms that lead people to emotional empathy and how those connections lead to sustainability actions. We are now analyzing how zoos and aquariums can intentionally inspire everyone to take meaningful actions on behalf of a healthier planet.

Research tells us that human beings often make decisions that are driven by a complex interplay between emotion, environmental and s…

River Otter Pups Take Their Swim Lessons Outside

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications
Photos and video by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo


Squeeeeee! Our four little river otter pups have advanced to the big pool! They are now swimming, dipping, splashing and diving in (and out of) their outdoor habitat. The 8-week-old pups may look like floofy, wiggle balls, but they are already streamlined for the water. It's amazing how adapted for the aqua life these little pups are—already adept at swirling around and climbing in and out at the shore at lightning speed.

Of course, this class of elite swimmers have been practicing with mom, Valkyrie, in a private indoor den pool. Swimming doesn’t come naturally to otter pups—the otter moms have to teach them how to swim, dip and dive—often by plunging them right in! Lessons might seem rough when mom grabs the pups by the scruff of their necks and dunks them in and out of the water, but this exercise assures the otter pups can handle the element…

Hasani the giraffe receives a name and some new custom-made therapeutic shoes

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo
Our baby giraffe now has a name! The little giraffe will be called Hasani, which means handsome in Swahili and was also the name of the baby giraffe’s paternal grandfather. The name was chosen by zoo staff—a fitting name for our beautiful calf who has already stolen hearts across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Hasani was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Immediately after his birth, the zoo’s animal health team noticed each rear foot was not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes. One day after the giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs.

A week ago, Woodland Park Zoo’s exhibits team constructed therapeutic shoes on a trial basis for the baby giraffe. Meanwhile, the zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine vet…

Penguin colony welcomes two new floofy members!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Breeding season for Woodland Park Zoo’s Humboldt penguins has officially come to a happy conclusion with the behind-the-scenes debut of two floofy new hatchlings. These newest chicks bring the total number of successful hatchings of the species at the zoo to 70 since the zoo’s first breeding season in 2010—one year after the penguin habitat opened. We won't know the sex of these chicks until DNA tests can be conducted.

Incubation for penguins takes 40 to 42 days, with both parents sharing duties in the nest and day-to-day care for their chicks. The first chick hatched April 5 to mom Claudia and dad Cortez. It is the third offspring for the parents. The second chick hatched May 1 and was placed under the care of foster parents Mateo and Mini. Its biological parents used to live at Woodland Park Zoo but recently moved to another accredited institution under a breeding recommendation made by th…