Monday, January 26, 2015

Zoo's antivenom program a stealth lifesaver

Posted by Caileigh Robertson, Communications

Aruba Island rattlesnake. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Behind the scenes of Woodland Park Zoo’s Day Exhibit—home to timid tree ‘roos, slow-moving tortoises and venomous snakes—is a refrigerator full of antivenom, life-saving treatments for less fortunate encounters with poisonous reptiles and amphibians. While snake bites are (thankfully!) a rarity among Woodland Park Zoo keepers, doctors at the Washington Poison Center have witnessed their fair share of poisonous bites.

Dr. Jenny Pramuk tours Washington Poison Center and Harborview staff around the zoo's snake collection. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Recently, Woodland Park Zoo’s curator, Jenny Pramuk, welcomed Washington Poison Center and Harborview staff on a tour through the Day Exhibit, to see up-close the zoo’s most venomous animals and behind-the-scenes antivenom supply. The zoo partners with Harborview Medical Center on performing venomous snake bite drills and educational opportunities for staff.

King cobra. Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo stocks five types of foreign antivenom that provide coverage for the dozen species of venomous snakes living at the zoo. These kinds of antivenom are considered experimental drugs in the U.S. and can only be kept with strict permits. Since poisonous bites from exotic species are rare in the U.S., most hospitals are not licensed to stock the appropriate antivenom, which makes Woodland Park Zoo’s supply a primary resource for the Pacific Northwest medical community.

Visiting health staff explores the zoo's Day Exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

When Washington Poison Center advises snake bite victims to seek immediate medical care, Woodland Park Zoo is often called next. The zoo has advised and supplied antivenom—including exotic antivenom—in more than eight incidents in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia since 2012. In other cases our reptile and amphibian experts help to identify animals responsible for bites or provide a home at the zoo for confiscated, illegal venomous snakes.

A British Columbia man who was bitten by a snake in Costa Rica received antivenom from Woodland Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health.

In one instance, a 60-year-old British Columbia man returned from Costa Rica with a serious snake bite that needed urgent attention. Washington Poison Center and Harborview Medical Center looked to Woodland Park Zoo for assistance, and more than 20 of the zoo’s antivenom vials were immediately transported to Canada by helicopter. Thankfully, the man successfully recovered (and he later visited Woodland Park Zoo for his very own tour behind the scenes). In 2014, we were again asked to provide five vials of antivenom to treat a bite from a puff adder in Portland, Oregon.

Northern Pacific rattlesnake. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Although poisonous animal encounters may be few and far between in Washington, Woodland Park Zoo’s ongoing relationship with the Washington Poison Center ensures the greater community has prompt, reliable access to life-saving treatments. In case of exposure to poisonous, hazardous, or toxic substances, know that Washington Poison Center is available by phone 24/7/365 to provide free, immediate and confidential advice. Stay safe!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seahawks' Wildest Fans

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
The Seahawks 12s are getting wild! Animals across the zoo showed up to the pregame today. Penguins, lion cubs, lemurs, grizzly bears, wolves and even a few tropical frogs joined the roster. We’re cheering on the Hawks as they advance to the NFC Championship. Special Seahawks enrichment treats from their keepers coaches motivated these athletes to execute those football moves!

As the Hawks keep winning, you keep saving—starting Jan. 16, take $3 off zoo admission every day when you sport your Seahawks gear as long as the Seahawks play. Let’s take a look at the best plays of the day…

We started off with a three-cub drill to evaluate the agility, quickness and movement of the youngest lionbacks. They showed great promise with their ball handling skills and lightning-fast pass rushes. Let’s just say Earl Thomas would be mighty proud of these cublets.
Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Mimicking Richard Sherman, this cub performed a sneak cornerback takeaway from his brother. A true cornerback pick.
Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Mom Adia got in on the game too, but her contribution was complete Beast Mode (AKA watch yourself). You know she was channeling Marshawn Lynch when she stared down the camera. No words necessary.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Xerxes showed exemplary skills in blocking and protecting the cutest quarterback ever. Go Xerxes, you are totally Max Unger-esque.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
The wolves took it up a notch with some wild kicking moves. Check out our own Steven Hauschka here in the Northern Trail.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
The lemurs came through with some phenomenal receiving moves. This primate’s got good hands! Look out Doug Baldwin.
Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo
Kam Chancellor knows that leaping over offensive lines is key to blocking field goals. These red-eye tree frogs are ready to defend this football. So ready.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo
Keema went for a pass rush. We’re pretty sure this griz is rooting for Bobby Wagner.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
When it came to team penguin, it was all about the 12th Man. Fascinated with the flag, these fans preferred bringing the Beast Quake to actually playing ball. We can’t blame them; it’s the best position in the house!

Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo
There was obviously a penguin huddle.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Tiny is mighty! “Why not us?” That’s right little yellow hourglass tree frog, make Russell Wilson proud.
Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo
Our own Harris’s hawk knows how to rally! Kakawww! 

Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo
All in all it was a fine day for football. And treats hidden inside footballs.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Good luck Seahawks, we’re behind you all the way!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Breaking News: Legislators introduce WA ivory bill

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Today Reps. Pettigrew (D), Buys (R) and Fitzgibbon (D) introduced bipartisan House Bill 1131 to put an end to illegal elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trade in Washington state. In addition to federal law, state laws are needed to close loopholes that allow the black market to go unchecked.

Which one is more precious?

You got us this far! More than 7,000 Woodland Park Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium supporters joined together to raise our voices on this issue. Legislators are now listening. Let’s be heard!


It’s time to use your voice once again! Leave a public comment on the Washington State Legislature website in SUPPORT of HB 1131. 

You can use the following talking points in your comment:

  • As your constituent, I am writing in support of Woodland Park Zoo’s and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s 96 Elephants campaign and ask you to support WA State HB 1131 to end the sale of illegal elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn in Washington.
  • African elephants are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand for ivory continues unabated. In 2012, 35,000 African elephants—96 per day—were killed for ivory. At this rate, extinction is possible in 20 years. The current worldwide population of all rhinoceros species living in the wild has dwindled to just twenty-nine thousand.
  • In 2014, the U.S. announced a federal ban prohibiting nearly all commercial imports, exports and interstate sales of elephant ivory; however ivory sales within states are uncontrolled and create a demand for newly poached ivory. This loophole bolsters a thriving black market in the U.S.—one of the largest ivory markets in the world. State-by-state moratoria must be enacted to close this loophole.
  • The illegal ivory trade helps finance trade in illegal drugs and arms, fueling political instability, organized crime, and terrorism. To stop the killing, we must stop the trade and end the demand.
  • Washington is in the vanguard of a national movement and can lead other states during this critical time for elephants and rhinoceroses. New York and New Jersey have passed ivory moratoria, and an ivory bill is now introduced in California.
  • Action needs to be taken now to stop the illegal sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn in Washington if we hope to save these animals from extinction and for future generations. Please support HB 1131 and make a difference today.

African elephant photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Help us name the lion cubs

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

We call them cute, we call them precious, and now we want to call the lion cubs by the names you help pick! Vote now and you’ll also have the chance to enter to win a random drawing for a ZooParent lion cub adoption.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The one name with the most votes will automatically be selected, and then it gets interesting! We’ll take the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most popular names and leave it to mom Adia and dad Xerxes to finish the job. On Thurs., Jan. 29, we’ll present the parents with enrichment choices, each associated with a name, and the two they touch first will be the names they select.

We’ll announce all the final name selections and share photos here!

Cast your #namethelions vote for your top three preferred names. The name choices are derived from languages that reflect parts of the South African lion’s native range. For inspiration, here’s the scoop on our triplets:

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Cub 1, Male: The smallest of the cubs is also the most independent and adventurous.
Cub 2, Male: This cub enjoys wrestling with his brothers and resting close to mom.
Cub 3, Male: The largest of the cubs, this one is protective and is never too far from mom’s side.

Name choices
  • Bokang (“Praise” or “Rejoice”)
  • Pule (“Rainy/In the rain”)
  • Tandie (“Fire”)
  • Karabo (“Answer”)
  • Letlotlo (“Treasure”)
  • Phahamo (“Eminence”)
  • Fanyana (“Little boy”)
  • Bheka (“Behold”)
  • Mandla (“Power/Strength”)
  • Gandia (“Clever”)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lion cubs take practice steps outside with mom and dad

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Did you get outside to enjoy the fresh air today? You weren't the only one! The three lion cubs took their first steps outdoors for a practice session to get them ready for their upcoming (soon to be announced!) public debut. And they were in some mighty big company.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

At 11 weeks old, the cubs are ready to stretch their legs, and today’s weather was perfect for a quick dip outside.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Up until now, the cubs have been spending their days behind the scenes with mom Adia in a den area where they've had a quiet space to nurse, bond and grow. In recent weeks, the cubs and Adia were joined by dad Xerxes for at least 30 minutes a day. This is especially exciting as the father of Adia's first litter, Hubert, was not around her cubs. (He spent his time with another female, Kalissa. The two have since relocated together to Los Angeles Zoo.) Thankfully Adia's bond is strong with first time dad, Xerxes, and now we have a full pride!

Today marked the first time the pride took their family bonding to the great outdoors.

And, boy, was it amazing to see!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

We might call him the king of the African Savanna, but it was pretty clear that Xerxes wasn't running the show. That role goes to Adia, who is a fantastic mom. She shows patience with the kids and keeps them from getting themselves into any danger.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Xerxes is still getting to know the cubs, and he is equal parts curious and cautious around the squirmy, little critters. Adia is remarkably tolerant, but she’ll step in between if she sees rough play or anything else she doesn't like.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

It didn't take too long before Xerxes had his fill of the fun and retired to a rock perch to sit back and get away from it all. And lucky for him, the rock was juuuuuuust high enough to be out of reach of the cubs, who jumped their little hearts out trying to get up there!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The cubs had a ball taking in all the wonders before them: Mud! Water! Rocks! Clumps of grass! And, oh, those clumps of grass…they sure did love them. What’s so great about a clump of grass? You can bite it, you can stomp on it, you can crawl through it, and you can spring attack your brothers with it!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Their little outdoor adventure lasted no more than 1 hour and was enough to wipe them out. They’ll be sleeping through the night, that’s for sure!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A few more practice sessions like this as the weather cooperates, and soon the cubs will be ready to officially debut. Please know that because of these intro sessions, we cannot guarantee any viewing hours at the lion exhibit right now, and you may encounter some barriers at the exhibit when space or quiet is needed for the family. Your patience will be greatly rewarded once the family settles in comfortably in the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to share updates when the viewing schedule comes together.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the meantime, we’ll be looking for your help to name our cubs. Look for an announcement next week!

We leave you with this video of pure joy:

Video: Lion cubs explore the great outdoors at Woodland Park Zoo. Video by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Green resolutions for the new year

Come on, be honest. Were you an eco-slacker this holiday, even just a little? Are you still shaking off the festive food coma of the last several weeks? The holidays take their toll on us and on our environment; by some estimates, consumption in the U.S. increases by 30% in November and December.

Let’s green up our act, friends! Small steps, when we all take them together, can go a long way to creating a sustainable future for animals and people. You’ll find our top 2015 resolutions easy to achieve and realistic to sustain. Step it up even more by sharing your green resolutions with friends and family.

Got your own wildlife-friendly green resolutions for 2015? Shout ‘em out to us in the comments below!

Go ahead: Satisfy that sweet tooth, sustainably!

Original photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo; modified.

Everyone enjoys candy treats during the Halloween through December holiday season (even though we’re probably sick of it right now), but not as much as orangutans, Asian elephants and tigers enjoy healthy forests in which to live and thrive. Now, you can fulfill both wishes! From now on, choose candy and treats made by companies that commit to sourcing Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and make a difference in the lives of wildlife impacted by the loss of habitat. 

Palm oil is an inexpensive vegetable oil, virtually free of trans fats. In Africa, it is the main cooking oil, and a significant source of biofuel. In the U.S., it is found in at least 50% of the packaged foods, detergents, baked goods and personal care products on our local markets’ shelves. However, this high-quality, high-yield crop is often grown unsustainably, with production methods that damage tropical forests and peat lands on which wildlife depend. Satisfy your sweet tooth by supporting Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil companies which have made a commitment to source sustainably cultivated palm oil for their products.

Brew your own conservation coffee, save wildlife.

A tree kangaroo climbs up high in Woodland Park Zoo's Day Exhibit. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

You can help protect tree kangaroos and their tree-top homes by looking for PNG YUS coffee, now back in stock at Caffe Vita thanks to a partnership with Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program. This conservation coffee supports eco-friendly livelihoods for the landowners who share tree kangaroo forests and, with Woodland Park Zoo’s help, established Papua New Guinea’s first Conservation Area. Our zoo is home to endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroos, which are native to the cloud forests of Papua New Guinea. From the trees, tree kangaroos can leap 60 feet to the ground without getting hurt. Don’t try that at home! But DO try the coffee!

Eat like an animal!

Vegetables and fruits heading to fill zoo animal bellies in our Commissary. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Resolve to live "la vida locavore" and share more habitat with wildlife! Consider your food choices and sources, just like we do for our animals and for our "people food" dining options on zoo grounds. 

This year, resolve to make smarter, greener food decisions. Whenever possible, shop local farmers' markets or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture share (CSA). Ask your grocers about the origin of the food they sell. Go meatless or dairy-free once a week. And, if you can, use our ZooDoo compost to grow your own vegetables and fruit!

The effects of climate change are big threats to wildlife and habitats, and our modern food system is directly tied to global greenhouse gas emissions. In general, greenhouse gas emissions get higher as you move up the food chain. For more great tips on how your diet can help animals, visit Puget Sound Fresh. 

Take the Green Zoo Tour!

Original photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; modified.

Sport your green spirit all year round at Woodland Park Zoo: use our free mobile app to enjoy the GPS-guided Green Zoo Tour. Discover the sometimes hidden ways we save water and energy and creatively reduce waste. On the tour, you'll visit LEED-certified buildings which we’ve designed with nature in mind. See solar panels at work generating electricity for our community. Discover the difference trees make. 

Then get more tips for how you can be greener at home, work and school.

Together we can reduce our impact on the planet we share with wildlife and with future generations.