Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Animals show Sounders spirit

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham & Gigi Allianic, Communications

Woodland Park Zoo is cheering for the Seattle Sounders FC as they head to the first round of MLS Cup playoffs this week. This morning, the animals got into the spirit of the playoffs their own way. While we didn’t see any banana kicks or diving headers here, the zoo’s grizzly bears, twin snow leopard cubs, and Humboldt penguins did have quite the time playing with and kicking around soccer balls.



The soccer balls for the animals are a form of enrichment as part of the zoo’s animal care program to help enhance the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally stimulated and engage zoo visitors. The cubs playfully tumbled with the soccer balls, the bears crushed them with their jaws, and the penguins excitedly dove around the soccer balls floating in their pool.

Do your own cheering as the Seattle Sounders FC face the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup Playoff Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday, Oct. 29 at Qwest Field.

Photos by Ryan Hawk.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Bird Man of Russia

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Check out this latest conservation interview featuring Dr. Sergei Smirinski, a Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife, on endangered cranes and other plants and animals of Muraviovka Park in Russia.



The Cranes of Asia conservation project works to protect the red crowned crane, hooded crane and oriental white stork, all of which rely on protection of the habitat in Russia's Muraviovka Park. Some of the critical threats facing the cranes and their habitat include long-term drought, fires that eliminate the dead grass necessary for nest camouflage, predators and competitors due to the growing impact of the drought and fires, disturbance by spring hunting on waterfowl, collisions with power lines, and use of pesticides and herbicides.

For more information on Dr. Smirinski's work to conserve the cranes of Asia, check out our newly updated Partners for Wildlife website.

Video by Ryan Hawk, photo by Dennis Dow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hippos bob for pumpkins

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


We’re gearing up for Pumpkin Bash this Saturday and Sunday—and our three hippos helped to get the party started with the first chomp yesterday. Keepers tossed out whole pumpkins to 46-year-old Gertie, 31-year-old Water Lily and 10-year-old Guadalupe, and it didn’t take long for them to smash them open.

Step 1: Toss

Step 2: Chomp

Step 3: Enjoy

The pumpkin treats are part of the zoo’s ongoing enrichment program to help enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally stimulated and provide added enjoyment for visitors.

See it yourself this Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Woodland Park Zoo’s Pumpkin Bash presented by Franz Bakeries. Enjoy a repertoire of animal behavior as hippos, bears, elephants, monkeys, and other animals crunch, smash or stomp on pumpkins. A full schedule of animal enrichment events is available online.

Photos by Ryan Hawk and Dennis Dow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dinner on the hoof

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

*Species Spotlight: Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus)


Forget Dracula—the common vampire bat stealthily feeds on the blood of mammals, and sometimes domesticated birds.

Let’s set the scene…

Flying about 3 feet off the ground, the bat uses its sharp sense of smell and echolocation to find a “victim.” This bat is lucky—there’s a sleeping cow right ahead!

So as not to alert the cow, the bat lands on the ground and easily crawls or hops to its snoozing dinner, using its thumbs, forearms and wings. It lightly climbs onto the cow and uses heat sensors in its nose to find where blood is near the skin’s surface. The bat licks the site clean with its tongue and then trims the cow’s hair with its teeth. It then painlessly cuts through the skin and injects saliva containing a chemical to prevent blood clots. The bat then laps oozing blood with its tongue. The bat soon becomes engorged with blood and is too heavy to fly away. It crawls off the cow and moves along the ground to a safe place while digestion lightens its heavy load.

The bats you spot out here in the Pacific Northwest are not vampire bats; their wild range keeps them to northern Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and the islands of Trinidad and Margarita off the coast of Venezuela. But if you want to see vampire bats up close, come check them out at the zoo’s popular Night Exhibit, which also features species of fruit bats.

(*Adapted from our Animal Fact Sheets. For a full list of Animal Fact Sheets, go to www.zoo.org/animal-facts or download the zoo’s new iPhone application.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Zoo iPhone app is available!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Earlier this week Woodland Park Zoo released our first iPhone application that allows you to track your location on zoo grounds, discover more about the animals, and access daily activity schedules to make the most of your next zoo visit. This handy tool features:

- GPS-enabled zoo map with "Near Me" recommendations for animal exhibits, play areas, concession stands and restrooms

- daily schedule of zoo activities including zookeeper talks and children's programs

- educational animal fact sheets

- special discount offers redeemable at concession stands

- "Friend Finder" to locate other iPhone users in your party on zoo grounds

- zoo news and happenings

- easy access to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your zoo experience

Here it is in action:

The application, designed in collaboration with Austin-based developers Avai Mobile Solutions, is available now to download for $0.99. iPhone users can go to the iTunes App Store and search for "Woodland Park Zoo" to download or follow this link. Proceeds from each application sale go toward the zoo's animal care, education, conservation and operation costs.

Don't have an iPhone? A mobile version of the zoo's award-winning website is now available for any smartphone user when you point your browser to http://www.zoo.org/. (GPS features not available on the mobile site.)

We will roll out additional features over time, but we're pretty thrilled with this first version and we hope you will be too. Even if you have been to the zoo dozens of times, you'll still find new information in the app. And having an app handy that tells you where the nearest restroom is solves the biggest issue families have out on zoo grounds!

If you download it, let us know what you think.

Photo and video by Ryan Hawk.