Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monkeying around

The black-and-white colobus monkeys on exhibit in our Tropical Rain Forest area have received some additional exhibit-mates and so now five colobus make the spot their home. Last week brought introductions to each other. Many species of monkeys are highly social but highly territorial and hierarchical so careful introductions are vital to incorporating new members into the group. Soon the new members were exploring the exhibit and getting their social nuances worked out.

Colobus are native across equitorial Africa and are known for their dramatic black coats with flowing white hair. The name "colobus" is derived from the Greek word meaning "docked" or "mutilated." Colobus monkeys once were thought to be abnormal because they have no thumb, or only a small stub where the thumb would usually be. This is actually an adaptation rather than a mutilation which allows colobus monkeys to easily travel along the tops of branches quadripedally. (Photo by Dennis Dow)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Summer concert line up announced

This is the 25th year for Woodland Park Zoo's annual concert series, ZooTunes, sponsored by the folks at WaMu and presented by Carter Subaru. Twenty-five years---a whole generation!---of families have been enjoying the concerts which started with a few local acts and has blossomed into notable performing artists.

This year, 10 concerts will be presented with the kick-off double-concerts featuring Keb' Mo' and Taj Mahal on June 24 and June 25. Other longtime favorites include Emmylou Harris and some newer artists including Andrew Bird, Amos Lee and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

Ticket sale proceeds go to help fund the zoo's operations including education programs and conservation. Tickets go on sale on May 5 at Metropolitan Markets and here at the zoo (and on Ticketweb.com for those outside the immediate area). We hope to see you on the zoo's North Meadow!!


Visit the WaMu ZooTunes website for the complete line up!

Monday, April 21, 2008

A tongue for all seasons

You know how rough your cat's tongue is when it licks your hand? Imagine that magnified on a grand scale with the tongue of a lion! Jake, our 17-year-old male lion went under anesthetic last week to get a full physical exam. Our veterinary health team gave him the once over to see how this elderly fellow was doing (they generally can live up to about 20 years in captivity and around 16 in the wild). One of the amazing aspects that one sees are the rows and rows of hooked appendages on their tongue. Called papillae, they are located at the tongue’s center. Papillae form backward-facing hooks containing large amounts of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails. These hooks provide the abrasiveness a cat needs for self-grooming. The strength of these hooks also helps a cat hold food or struggle with prey and are great for licking meat off the bone.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Uzumma steps out

The newly named baby gorilla is getting more and more active with each passing day. Mother Amanda, always cautious, seems to be allowing her more latitude as she begins to explore the exhibit and interact with her sister Calaya and groupmate Jumoke.

But actions speak louder than words so here's a video of the bundle of energy as she plays. (Photo by Dennis Dow; video by Ryan Hawk)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring is springing!

Despite the cold and rainy weather (and discounting the freaky 80 degree Saturday we just had thrown in to tease us), spring is thundering its way back at the zoo. Our intrepid Horticulture crew has been busy planting, mulching and making way for all the new growth and the impending explosion of blooms.
Here are just a couple shots from volunteer photographer Mat Hayward of the signs of spring on grounds. Here also is a link to a listing of some of the things that will be in bloom: http://www.zoo.org/zoo_careers/horticulture.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flamingo exhibit making headway

Anyone who is a fan of these elegant and colorful birds is anticipating their return to the zoo after nearly 15 years. On May 24, our new Chilean flamingo exhibit will open and avian fans will flock to see these brilliant birds. Although these birds are directly threatened with extinction, like many species of birds, they are prone to the actions of humans that are beginning to have devastating effects on their habitats in Chile. We will teach, through signs, talks and interactive elements how our actions, even here far to the north in Seattle, can have lasting impact on these birds.

Here are a couple shots of the progress on the new exhibit which will feature a wading pond, a viewing boardwalk for visitors, and a meandering path. Nearby, other animals native to the flamingos' range will be exhibited nearby including the southern pudu and coscoroba swans.

Hope to see you on May 24 for opening day festivities!! (Photos by Ryan Hawk)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Orangutan painter debuts on NPR

Orangutan Towan made national news on the recent broadcast of "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon. Gigi Allianic, the zoo's PR manager, noted Towan's interest in painting and his intensity in creating his "art."

You can hear the piece at the following link to NPR. Tune into our blog next week and we will be posting video of Towan making yet another masterpiece. And soon, we'll be featuring a special Mother's Day piece for auction on eBay!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89583858

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New snow leopard joins the zoo

A young snow leopard has come to join the snow leopard exhibit. The male, named "Tom" (his littermate was given the moniker "Jerry"), was born in 2006 at the Los Angles Zoo and arrived here in February. After clearing quarantine, the cat took up residence in our Australia snow leopard exhibit.

His keepers note that Tom is a very social cat, very vocal to keepers and other animals, and responds well to his caretakers and to Nadia, the 14-year-old female that has been here for a number of years. He has more white in his coat that Nadia, is a little larger, and but still has more "filling out" to do. Tom's keepers say that his favorite play items are cardboard boxes---which he promptly shreds to pieces!

Due to the big age difference between the two cats and Nadia's advanced age, we are not looking to breed these two animals. Another younger female will be arriving soon and we hope to receive a breeding recommendation four these two new cats from the Species Survival Plan. Since WPZ first obtained snow leopards in 1972, more than 2 cubs have been born here. Several have been sent to Australia, Canada, England and throughout North America to diversify captive populations. We also collaborate with other zoos to improve reproductive techniques and team with our conservation partner, the Snow Leopard Trust, to ensure their survival in the wild. (Photo by Ryan Hawk)

Friday, April 4, 2008

And her name is...Uzumma!

The baby gorilla now has a name, thanks to 3-1/2-year-old Rhys Olson of Seattle (o.k., he had a bit of help from his dad, Rick!). Uzumma is an Igbo-langugage word that means "bearer of joy to the family". Rhys wins a year-long membership to the zoo, a $150 Ivar's gift card, a gorilla "adoption" through our ZooParent program, a large plush gorilla toy and a framed print of the baby and her handprint.

Ivar's CEO Bob Donegan announced the winning name today at 10:00 a.m. at the gorilla exhibit with Rhys and his dad in attendance, along with five other top contests. Some of the other suggested names were Ekemma, Igbo for "beautiful Eke Market day"; Abeni, a Yoruba word for "one who you must beg for to have". The zoo's gorilla keeper staff and volunteers served as judges.

We thank everyone who entered (nearly 1,000 entries overall) and we congratulate Rhys and his family on their achievement! (Photo of Rick Olson and gorilla naming winner Rhys as they are surrounded by local media. Photo by Ryan Hawk)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brady Barr makes a splash at the zoo

Dr. Brady Barr, the enigmatic host of National Geographic's Dangerous Encounters: Countdown Croc, appeared for a special presentation in Zoomazium yesterday. The celebrated herpetologist (that's someone who studies reptiles, for those of you not in the know!) visited prior to his National Geographic lecture held at Benaroya Hall. Thanks to spring break (and before the torrential hail storm), more than 100 kids were treated to a talk about reptiles and got the chance to meet a blue-tongued skink, tortoise and ball python up close while Brady filled them in on lots of info about their natural history, conservation status and his adventures in the field. We hope that Brady can come back and visit longer---though we're glad he didn't bring one of his 23-foot-long crocodile friends!