Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2019

Raptor takes researcher north to Alaska to look at a special winter visitor

Posted by Jim Watson, Wildlife Research Scientist, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Jim Watson is a friend of the zoo and works with our Living Northwest Conservation Program's Raptor Ecology of the Shrub-Steppe Project. Jim has partnered with us for years and we are excited to share his most recent adventures in raptor research:

When Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Woodland Park zoo started our cooperative raptor studies in the shrub-steppe of the Pacific Northwest 20 years ago we probably didn’t envision we were embarking on such a long-term journey. This productive relationship has delved into important projects including migration studies of ferruginous hawks and golden eagles, and how human activities like construction of wind turbines and lead contamination in prey are affecting these iconic raptors. We took advantage of a recent opportunity to look in a little different direction for our cooperative studies within the shrub-steppe raptor community.

"Was that a coyote?" New tool helps us understand urban carnivores and learn about safe coexistence

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

A healthy ecosystem is one in which plants and animals interact in a dynamic balance. They work together in a way that creates a sustainable and interconnected support structure for the whole environment. All different kinds of creatures, ranging from bees to bobcats, have an important role to play. But some of them—and the behaviors they exhibit—can be misunderstood or even feared. 
WHAT IS A CARNIVORE? Most people think the word “carnivore” refers to any animal that eats meat as a primary component of its diet. This is accurate, but the word “carnivore" can also refer to specific mammals that are classified in the order Carnivora. This scientific grouping is not based on diet, but is instead related to a way of classifying animals based on shared characteristics—in this case the structure of their teeth.

Urban spaces and the suburbs that sprawl around them are growing, which restricts some carnivore species to more remote regions, whil…

White-naped crane chicks hatch! A symbol of hope for a vulnerable species

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

We are proud to announce the hatching of two threatened white-naped crane chicks—a first in the zoo’s 119-year history for this species. These two chicks, which hatched July 9th and 10th, are the first offspring for parents Cal, who is 9 years old and Laura who is 8. While Cal and Laura have only been at Woodland Park Zoo for five years, we have had white-naped cranes living at the zoo for around 30 years. But none successfully produced offspring until now. The sex of our two new chicks hasn’t been determined yet, and they do not have names yet.

Cranes are monogamous and can be very picky when choosing a mate. Even the slightest incompatibility between two birds can prevent successful breeding and they will only breed once a strong pair bond is formed between them. Even then, it can take several years to solidify that bond. Cal and Laura were paired on a recommendation from the White-Naped Crane Species …

What do remote cameras reveal for carnivore researchers? Hike with us to find out.

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications Photos by Jason Martin/Woodland Park Zoo

In mid-May, I ditched my day job for the woods. I went to the Olympic National Forest to see what it’s like to shadow a crew of carnivore conservationists. We hiked around to check on remote cameras that were stationed in the forest since this same time last year—and we’d be the first to see what (if anything) this footage revealed. Camera traps allow researchers to determine the presence of rare species and sometimes reveal how we can better support their recovery. This is what it’s like to accompany a team of conservationists up a very steep mountain in search of a very elusive creature.

After winding along the dirt road that skirts Lake Cushman—a jewel-colored swath of blue nestled into this morning’s foggy Olympic mountains—my husband Jason and I meet our hiking companions at the base of Mt. Rose. In the gravel Forest Service parking lot, we unload our packs and greet Robert Long, Betsy Howell, Paula…