Monday, March 31, 2008

Someone's getting a new name


The contest has ended, the names researched and checked and on April 4, the baby western lowland gorilla female born last October will finally receive her new name which is...ah, of course you'll have to wait! In association with Ivar's and Kidd Valley restaurants, we asked the community to find an appropriate name for the baby. We generally try to use names from the languages found in their original range countries so contest participants were able to choose from Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa or Swahili. We had lots of great suggestions until it was narrowed down to just seven and then the winner randomly drawn from those. The winner will be announced during the Primetime Primates day which takes place during our inaugural EcoWeekend event. At 10:00 a.m. on April 4, representatives from the zoo and Ivar's CEO will announce the name and zoo visitors will be treated to delicious "babycake" cupcakes from Cupcake Royale (while supplies last, of course!). Meanwhile, here are a couple shots from zoo volunteer photographer Dale Unruh to satiate you until her name is announced.

Friday, March 28, 2008

EcoWeekend kicks off April 3!


We're kicking off our first-ever EcoWeekend beginning April 3 at the zoo. This is a pre-cursor to celebrating Earth Day and so we've combined several themes and events over four days to celebrate wildlife and habitat. April 3 is Leap Around the Zoo, a 1k just for younger children and their parents/guardians; April 4 is Primetime Primes, which celebrates the many species of primates AND marks the public announcement of our baby western lowland gorilla's new name; April 5 is Bear Affair and The Big Howl, complete with a non-safe campsite demo featuring our own grizzly bears. If you haven't seen this in years past, it's worth the trip to watch as they, shall we say, "dismantle" a campsite that's incorrectly set up for bear country (see the video of last year to the right in the Video Bar); and April 6 is the Coffee & Chocolate Festival which celebrates, with tasty samples, eco-friendly coffees and chocolate.


For more details, visit the EcoWeekend page on our website: http://www.zoo.org/eco_weekend/index.html

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program


The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program is based at Woodland Park Zoo and in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the eastern half of the island of New Guinea located north of Australia. This remarkable island is just now being revealed to science with a variety of new species being discovered and identified.


Kangaroos in the trees may seem strange to many people; the common image of a kangaroo is the iconic image of the variety found in Australia. But tree kangaroos, of which there are about 10 species, inhabit the tall forest canopies of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia. Looking a bit like teddy bears with long tails, these elusive marsupials were becoming rare in PNG due to hunting and loss of habitat from logging.


The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) has been successful because it has been directly involving the indigenous land owners in decisions about how and what land can be used. Also, the program helps fund health care and nutrition projects for the villagers. They in turn aid the project by protecting the tree kangaroos and the forest areas they require.


View a video of TKCP staff members Susan Tallarico and Toby Ross as they discuss the project. (Photo by Ryan Hawk)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The art of making the new flamingo exhibit

When the new Chilean flamingo exhibit opens on May 24 at the zoo, you’ll see the gorgeous flock of flamingos right away, but there are also interesting natural stories built into the exhibit for you to discover over time. Ripples and clam holes in the ground you stand on hint at the coastal mudflat habitat where the flamingos overwinter. You might notice tiny footprints leaving the very real-looking flamingo “nest” your 5-yr-old is playing on. Your 8-yr-old will definitely find the model of the flamingo head that shows the special filtering structures they use to sieve brine shrimp out of the water for dinner. Right now members of our exhibits team are busy building these fascinating details into the exhibit for you to discover this May. Here you see Stephanie Snyder working on the 3-D model of a flamingo head. After carving the model in clay, she’ll cast it in a very durable material to hold up to the curiosity of many children—and adults!—this summer. (Photos by Ryan Hawk)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Penguins heading out


The last of our Humboldt penguins will be heading out to other zoos by March 24 as we begin preparations to build a brand new penguin exhibit. The new exhibit will be located on the footprint of the old one, originally built in 1947 (but lots of modifications over the years). BUT, the new exhibit will be much more interactive with lots of fun features for kids of different age levels to teach about life for Humboldt penguins in Peru's Punta San Juan, one of the last refuges for these endangered birds.
Another great feature about the exhibit is that is will be much more environmentally friendly than the current exhibit, saving thousands of gallons of water a year through the utilization of rainwater collection and special filtration systems that allow for safe re-use of water in the exhibit. There will also be more areas and levels of viewing for kids and folks in wheelchairs. There will even be a blowhole that mimic those found on the coast of Punta San Juan!

Groundbreaking won't occur until later this summer with a planned grand opening in the summer of 2009. So although visitors won't get to see penguins for a while, they'll be satisfied to know that the new exhibit will be better for the penguins and for the guests coming to see them.

Check out our Pennies for Penguins site that gives lots of information about the exhibit and the opportunity to give.: www.zoo.org/penguins

(Photo by Ryan Hawk)

Friday, March 14, 2008

thrive! with the zoo




Last night was our annual thrive! dinner at the Sheraton Hotel. And what a night it was! With nearly 300 community guests, the overall theme was sharing the stories of the zoo and the impact a visit to the zoo has on our guests. With special guests, the Kratt brothers--Martin and Chris--thrive! guests were treated to tales of their amazing exploits and the important role that experiencing that nature provides everyone, no matter their age.




President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen gave an overview of the zoo's conservation and educational opportunities and even had a one-on-one "talk" with a frog to highlight Year of the Frog, an international effort to educate about the plight of amphibian species around the world.




Thanks to volunteer photographer Mat Hayward for his wonderful documentation of the evening. For more photos, visit Mat's blog: http://www.haywardphoto.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mbeli Bai Project focuses on gorilla conservation

We were fortunate to recently have Thomas Breuer join us to discuss his project focusing on the use of "bais" --the swampy clearings in the forest---located in central Africa. These bais are havens for native wildlife including forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. Much of Breuer's work is tracking the demographics of the gorilla groups that come to feed on the rich plant life in the bais. During his six years, they have identified and observed several groups and individually identified gorillas, tracking their individual life histories. In the process, they've learned a tremendous amount about gorilla behavior and helped conserve the populations utilizing the bais.

As part of his visit, we taped a segment with Breuer as he talks about the project. Woodland Park Zoo is one of the proud funders of this project. Take a look at the video in the Video Bar on the right. Also included is an excellent piece by National Geographic showing recent discoveries about gorilla tool use among the bai individuals.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Whoop-de-zoo! Orangutans celebrate their 40th


Twin orangutans Towan and Chinta seemed to have ball celebrating their 40th birthday. Nice weather brought out hundreds of people to the zoo to help in the event. While the orangutans received wrapped gifts filled with treats and "orang cupcakes", visitors received tasty cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. Zookeepers shared stories about the orangutans, reminiscing about their antics over the past four decades.


In this photo, male orangutan Towan tore up a gift-wrapped package to discover his treats inside. (Photo by Dennis Dow)