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Showing posts from August, 2019

Hip-hippo-hooray for a big birthday girl and a celebration of African wildlife!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications Guests enjoy a keeper talk while watching the hippos at the east edge of the African Savanna. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo A horse is a horse, of course of course, but a hippo is … well, let’s start with the fact that it’s larger than a horse. Technically the word “hippopotamus” comes from ancient Greek words meaning “horse of the river” but while both animals are four-legged mammals the similarities seemingly end there. A hippo's body is perfectly adapted to life in the water, with eyes, ears and nostrils at the top of their heads. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo The common hippo (as opposed to the pygmy hippo) is native to sub-Saharan Africa where they spend hot days submerged in rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. Their bodies are perfectly adapted to life in the water, with the location of their eyes, ears and nostrils at the top of their heads. This allows a hippo to see, hear, breathe

Connectivity, Recovery, Separation, and Inspiration: Finding a path to coexistence

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives The last time I wrote, I discussed the importance of connectivity to conservation , both right here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. I wanted to write more because of something that was said during a recent meeting I attended with a range of stakeholders from around the region. The meeting’s focus was on helping to co-design an upcoming zoo exhibit about our own Living Northwest. Washington's wolf populations are still recovering—coming back from extinction in the state. of  Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo We were discussing the strategic framework for our Living Northwest Program ’s field work, where we have multiple projects aimed at recovery of species such as wolves and wolverines (as they return to Washington after decades of having been driven to extinction in the state), and also aimed at improving coexistence between people and wildlife once the wildlife has recovered (or as peop

Keeping the Lights On: Understanding the connections that power conservation

Posted by: Peter Zahler, Vice President of Conservation Initiatives “Connectivity: the state or extent of being connected or interconnected.” An aerial view of the Cascade mountains offers breathtaking glimpses of forested habitat. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo The definition of connectivity feels incredibly simple, yet there’s something strangely insightful in there. Small children immediately understand the idea—putting together puzzles, linking construction toys to make bigger toys, drawing lines to bring different images into contact with one another. That simple concept of connectivity extends into adulthood, as we begin to connect ideas to one another—which is when deep understanding and inspired solutions often occur. Connectivity in its simplest form is what first really attracted me to the natural world. I was, and continue to be, spellbound by how the natural world is interconnected. Ecosystems immediately struck me as enormously complicated jigsa

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 commu

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

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications An image of a coyote is captured on a motion sensor remote camera through the Seattle Urban Carnivore Project. Photo courtesy of Seattle Urban Carnivore Project / Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle University 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 classify

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 Two white-naped crane chicks hatched at Woodland Park Zoo—a first in the zoo's history for this species. Photo: 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. White-naped crane parents keep a watchful eye on their chick. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo Cranes are monogamous and can be very picky when choosing a mate. Even the slightest incompatibility betw

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