Monday, January 28, 2008

A snowy, blowy day




The snow arrived a couple days after forecasters predicted, but hit Phinney Ridge with a dusting of a couple inches, turning the zoo into a white wonderland. Although all the animals have heated off view areas, many of them enjoy the snow and its provides a stimulating chance to "frolic." Even Zoomazium, our indoor nature-themed playspace popular with young kids had a fairytale quality. Intrepid zoo-goers braved the weather and got the place practically to themselves! Photos by Ryan Hawk

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby gorilla update


The baby gorilla is doing very well and the doctors from Children's Hospital were extremely pleased at how well the surgical incision is healing. She's using her arms and legs normally and is picking up weight. She and mother Amanda are out in the exhibit intermittently most days that it's warmer (anything under 45 degrees and they stay in where it's toasty!).

Photo by Ryan Hawk

Friday, January 11, 2008

Baby gorilla update

The baby is doing very well and was reunited with her mother shortly after she recovered from the anesthetic. The doctors say that her prognosis for a full recovery is very good and mother Amanda readily accepted her back.

One recent comment asked about vitamin supplements for the animals. All animals at the zoo have diets that are constantly examined not only by our staff, but animal nutritionists who are tops in the field. Each diet is formulated not only for that particular species, but the needs of the individual animal. Although each diet is nutritionally complete, some of the animals are given supplements, particularly in cases such as pregnancy or in circumstances where they made need additional care.

We've posted a video of the day of the baby gorilla's surgery at the top right of this blog. Special note: although we've tried not too make it too graphic, there are a couple seconds that may be too much for sensitive folks!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baby gorilla gets helping hand from Children's Hospital




The western lowland gorilla born at the zoo on October 20, 2007, got some "out of this world" help for a congenital spine abnormality discovered a couple weeks after her birth. Woodland Park Zoo's crack Animal Health Care Team first examined the baby and ran tests to determine the diagnosis. Once it was found that the problem was a congenital problem that could be rectified with surgery, a team of neurosurgeons and a neonatologist from Seattle's Children's Hospital volunteered their services, along with special state-of-the-art neurospinal instruments donated by New Jersey-based Integra LifeSciences Corporation. Dr. Rob Liddell of Radiology Consultants Washington provided consultation and MRI diagnostics in December.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Ellenbogen called it a "Star Trek-type experience" for he and his team which included Dr. Craig Jackson, Dr. Sam Browd from Children's. "(We) were proud to help with an endangered species such as the baby gorilla. The operation was a great success from our perspective, and we are hoping for a full recovery." Following the surgery, the mass that was removed is we're pending the results of biopsy diagnostics.

Dr. Kelly Helmick, the zoo's Interim Director of Animal Health, and Dr. John Ochsenreiter, our Interim Associate Veterinarian, assisted with the procedure and both expressed their gratitude for the Children's doctors' skills and generosity, as well as the professionalism of our gorilla keepers who provided excellent pre- and post-surgery care. "We are extremely grateful to the entire medical team for volunteering their time and specialized skills for our young conservation ambassador," noted Helmick.

Wildlife and zoo medicine is a field that is rapidly evolving. It is through the cooperation of experts in veterinary medicine and human medicine that incredible care such as that provided for the baby can be accomplished--care that not that long ago would not have been possible.

The little female gorilla was returned to her mother, Amanda, following her recovery from anesthetic. Soon we will post video of the surgical procedure here (don't worry; it's pre-screened for the squeamish!).

Visit the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for a full story and stay tuned for Evening Magazine which will run a piece within the next few days. For more about the babies birth, including a slideshow and video, visit our Species Spotlight. We'll keep you posted! Photos by Ryan Hawk