Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: Woodland Park Zoo style

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
Photos: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo


From all of us here at Woodland Park Zoo, we give thanks to you—our amazing pack of wild-at-heart animal lovers who have helped make this world-class zoo a community tradition for 114 years.

Of course, you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving without a feast and friends to share it with. So as you belly up to your perfectly set table to enjoy your holiday spread, allow us to start the meal off with an animal-inspired toast.

[Raise a glass]

Dearest friends…



…Here’s to a drool-worthy Thanksgiving feast…


…May your meal taste better than cardboard and may your guests not ruin your centerpiece…


…May you wolf down your first serving so you can get to seconds. Then thirds…


…Table manners aside, may you dive head first into the comforts and joys of the season...


…And may your holidays be filled with tender moments.

Cheers!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A matter of taste

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo



For Thanksgiving dinner, you might consider your guests before planning the menu. Aunt Penelope prefers mashed potatoes, cousin Yanos prefers yams. But, what if your dinner guests turned out to be a pack of hungry animals?

A snow leopard prepares to dine.

Different animals have different reasons for prioritizing some tastes over others, and it all comes down to evolution and survival; which foods will provide the quickest and most nutritious meal? Taste is a complex issue and tends to be shaped by evolution and environment.

Here is a test: think of a time when you were really hungry, practically starving. Now, from the choices below, which meal would you have picked?

  1. Buttery, chocolate fudge ice cream in a hand-built waffle cone with sea-salt infused caramel drizzle, cocoa sprinkles and a dollop of heavenly whipped cream. 
  2. A hand tossed, crisp pizza pie topped with virgin olive oil and hot garlic, caramelized onions, a pile of melted mozzarella, freshly chopped basil, a tangy, organic heirloom sauce, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives.
  3. A rutabaga. 
No offense to the rutabaga, but I think we can all agree that as far as our human taste receptors are concerned, option C doesn’t exactly induce any mouthwatering cravings. That is because our taste buds tell us that high calorie fats and sugars are preferred when we are really hungry. (Rutabagas are good for you, eat your rutabaga.)


Humans have about 8 to 10 thousand taste buds to help us decide between the rutabaga, the pizza or the ice cream. 1 in 4 of us is a supertaster. Supertasters have more papillae (tiny structures on your tongue that contain taste buds) and are more sensitive to bitter tastes such as coffee, green veggies and grapefruit juice. Our individual preferences for taste are often cultural or are just part of our genetic makeup, but some tastes are predetermined and quite universally human.

Millions of dollars are spent each year on human taste research. There are countless studies, plus we can always just ask each other, “What is your favorite…?” But, it is harder to discern the taste preference of, say, an Asian elephant.

Apples and other fruits are well received by the zoo's elephants.
Most vertebrates share the same basic set up for tasting as humans—taste buds that are located on the tongue or in the mouth. But not all animals have the same number or the same quality of taste buds. Taste sensitivity depends upon the number and type of taste buds that each animal has.

Human taste buds allow us to experience five unique tastes: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami. Each of these tastes tells us something about the food we’re about to eat. Salt regulates our electrolytes, sour usually occurs from acidic foods, sweet means the food is high in energy, bitter signifies toxins and umami is the unique taste of amino acids found in meat and cheese.

Some animals can rely on smell, sight and other senses to ensure they're eating the right thing, but humans and omnivores rely heavily on taste because we eat a greater variety of foods. We are pickier about what we're eating, but we also get to experience a lot more flavors.



Birds have the fewest taste buds. Chickens have a mere 50 taste buds, while parrots have several thousand.

Some carnivores, such as felines are missing their sweet taste receptors. Lions have around 470 taste buds and, like all cats big and small, they are taste-blind to sweets. Because cats are carnivorous, they are more sensitive to bitter flavors, so that they may avoid rancid meat.

As omnivores, bears have retained their sweetness receptors, allowing them to enjoy honey, berries and a more flexible diet. Salmon continues to be the preferred treat for our bears, Keema and Denali.


Canines, which are mostly carnivorous, have about 1,700 taste buds. A dog can detect many of the same tastes as humans, but may experience them on a diffused scale. This would explain why your dog puts just about anything into its mouth. With fewer taste buds, canines don’t taste the same depth of flavor that people do. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint too, since competition might prevent the dog from having time to savor anything too long (another dog might snatch it away). Dogs often gulp their snacks because whoever wolfs it down first is the winner.


Ever wonder why your dog laps up water like it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted? Well, it might be. Some researchers think canines and some carnivores may have special taste buds that allow them to taste the minute notes and profile of water sources. This taste sense is found at the tip of the dog's tongue, the part of the tongue that curls to lap water. Fido may be able to determine the terroir, drinkability, nose, aquifer and soil content of a puddle!


Humans have 10,000 taste buds, allowing us to discern complex flavors and tastes. When you think about it, it’s pretty incredible that we can tell the difference between such varieties of foods. Because people are omnivorous, animals that eat both meat and plants, we need more taste buds to tell us which foods are which.


Pigs, who share a similar diet to people, have 15,000 taste buds. Those little pigs have a more refined pallet than we do!

A tree kangaroo joey learns how to strip leaves. His taste buds are fine tuned for greenery.

Herbivores, such as cows, have up to 25,000 taste buds. Why? The extra taste buds assist plant eaters in deciding between bitter (poisonous) plants and edible vegetation. Herbivores also need to supplement their diet with salt, so they need extra help in seeking salty substances.

Insects taste with chemoreceptors, tiny membranes that send electrical impulses through the nervous system. Some receptors are on the insect’s legs, such as the case with butterflies and house flies, and honey bees have taste receptors on their antennae.

Reptiles have taste buds too, but their capacity for distinguishing flavors varies greatly among species. A snapping turtle seems to have few or no taste buds, allowing it to swallow prey with little thought, whereas some sea turtles have quite a few taste buds. Snakes have sort of a taste-smell sense: they use their tongues to assist a special organ, called the Jacobson’s organ, in smelling out their prey.

What is the animal with the most taste buds? Catfish! These scavenging fish have more than 175,000 taste buds, which are so sensitive that they can detect a taste in the water from miles away. Catfish have taste buds all over their body, part of their skin and fins.

So, while a lion probably won’t steal your pumpkin pie, I’d keep your eye on the bears. Especially since they can smell that pie from over 18 miles away, but that’s a blog for another time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Patas monkey friendship is blossoming

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Meet our newest pair of patas monkeys!

Acacia, an 8-year-old female from Kentucky, and SeiKei, a 4-year-old male from California have been successfully introduced and have been spending some quality time on the African Savanna together.

Acacia, relaxing in the leaves.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

SeiKei, looking out over the savanna from his rocky perch.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

First, zookeepers introduced the monkeys to each other through a mesh enclosure to be sure they were not aggressive with one another. The monkeys spent time looking at each other and showed positive interactions through the mesh. It is not always easy to tell if two animals will get along, but fortunately these two showed encouraging behaviors right away. Next the patas monkeys were each given access to the exhibit on their own so they could get used to the environment and scout it out. Finally, they were placed together in the exhibit. Right away, Acacia showed signs of submission: her way of letting Seikei know she would share the exhibit with him.

This pair prefers the same special treats at the zoo, fruits and bugs!
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the wild, the highest-ranking female is in charge of the troop. Our patas pair is quite a new group so the hierarchy is still being worked out. Patas monkeys typically spend much of their time perched high in trees or rock outcroppings, on the lookout for predators and other dangers. You can see both of our patas in trees or sitting up on the rocks peering across the savanna, their favorite thing to do!

The pair perches atop an ant hill structure, the perfect spot to scope out Misawa, the baby giraffe.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Patas monkeys, Erythrocebus patas, are one of the speediest animals on the African savanna. Sharing the grasslands with predators such as jackals, hyenas and leopards, patas monkeys need to be extremely quick and agile. If necessary, a patas can go from 0 to 33 miles per hour in just three seconds! Because they are so speedy, patas monkeys rarely have to fight when threatened by a predator.

The pair surveying their surroundings together.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the wild, patas live in large troops where each monkey plays an important role. Whether in a bachelor troop of young males, or a large family troop consisting of one male and up to ten females, patas monkeys always have each other’s backs. In fact, if predators approach the troop, a male will draw attention to himself by dancing around and causing a ruckus so that the predators focus on him, leaving the rest of the troop to escape. Talk about a good friend!

SeiKei shows off his stunning tail, used for balance and agility in the trees and on the grassy plains.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Troops of patas monkeys spend their day searching the savanna for soft leaves, gum and berries from acacia trees, grass, seeds, insects and even small lizards and young birds. At night, the monkeys disband and each seeks out their own tree to sleep in. One male patas will keep a night watch and will bark to warn the others if a predator approaches.

Acacia skillfully forages for enrichment items.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Next time you are at Woodland Park Zoo, be sure to stop by the patas exhibit and say "hello" to these two!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Celebrating Thanksgiving and football with zoo events

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


While we all get ready to mash the potatoes and whip the pie toppings, Woodland Park Zoo's carnivores are lining up for a Thanksgiving meal with considerably fewer trimmings.

What happens next isn't pretty. Photo: Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo.

Turkey Toss returns November 23 with a feast for the beasts. The turkey treats, while perhaps less elegantly prepared than our home-cooked Thanksgiving meals, certainly get us in the spirit of the season! Watch the jaguars, snow leopards and other meat eaters tackle their turkeys and see those carnivorous instincts in the raw.

Then the spirit of the season continues with our annual Apple Cup discount, welcoming Cougs and Dawgs to the zoo with a special offer for football fanatics.

Asian elephant Chai enjoys Dawg- and Coug-themed treats to celebrate Apple Cup.

That's right, you can celebrate the state football rivalry game by heading to the zoo! From November 25-December 1, wear any garb from University of Washington or Washington State University, such as a jersey, sweatshirt, hat, gloves or beads, and receive half off zoo admission. Or, show a valid student ID from either university. Get discount details.

Don't you just love this time of year?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Walk with me through Tiger Country

Posted by: Fred Koontz, PhD, Vice President of Field Conservation


These days, bad news is easy to come by in stories about tiger conservation. But I’d like to show you how the power of ordinary, caring people is changing that. Recently, I joined a group of folks in Malaysia dedicated to protecting tiger landscapes from the grip of wildlife criminals. Come with me on a CAT Walk through tiger country and see for yourself what conservation in a tiger hotspot looks and feels like.

With massive, towering trees, Taman Negara National Park, created in 1939, is often referred to as the crown jewel of the world’s rain forests. Estimated to be 130 million years old, it is nearly twice as old as the Amazon rain forest. Woodland Park Zoo is part of a new, 10-year project with Panthera and Malaysian colleagues to save Malayan tigers in and around this park. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ. 

BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Last June, on a Malaysian site visit for WPZ’s Field Conservation Department, I joined a Citizen Conservationist trip organized by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) and funded by the Zoological Society of London’s 21st Century Tiger and the Malaysian public. MYCAT’s volunteers, an invaluable presence in the forest, monitor animal activity and deter tiger poaching. Often traveling several hours from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s bustling capital city, they enthusiastically take on intense jungle heat and steep, muddy terrain. Most importantly, they bring an infectious, can-do attitude. My lack of leech socks notwithstanding, this experience filled me with hope for the tiger’s future.

CAT Walk volunteers gather for the journey through tiger country. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

Over two days, we traversed parts of the Yu River Wildlife Corridor, an area that serves as a vital connection between Taman Negara National Park, the largest protected area in Malaysia, and a larger landscape important for tigers and wildlife to the west. It moves me to see citizen conservation on the rise, especially among Malaysia’s under-40 crowd. Some CAT (Citizen Action for Tigers) Walks have wait lists. Teachers, office workers, tourists, “voluntourists” and  ordinary folks from cities and local villages make long treks in this important area for a week or weekend, unpaid, to reclaim wild spaces from poachers. Citizen conservationists are not law enforcement and don’t confront criminals. Rather, they supplement law enforcement officers by increasing the number of eyes and boots on the ground, and they collect data to help enforce wildlife conservation laws. A key aspect of their work is providing safety for endangered Malayan tigers so that this highly endangered species can recover its population in the Taman Negara region.  MYCAT researchers or park authorities determine specific walking routes as poaching hotspots or as common poacher access routes into protected forests. Research shows that low-impact recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, photography or bird watching in a wildlife area deter poaching without affecting wildlife. Poachers are far more disturbed by the presence of people than wildlife!

It’s no ordinary walk in the park, but it’s definitely an experience of wonder. CAT Walk volunteers do extraordinary things to save tigers by supplementing official anti-poaching patrols. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

Last June, WPZ’s president and CEO, Dr. Deborah Jensen, shared with you Malaysia’s national plan to save its tigers from the precipice of extinction, and how the zoo’s new 10-year tiger conservation project, in collaboration with Panthera and Malaysian colleagues, was kick-started with a project that helped to protect core breeding areas in Taman Negara and trained professional rangers in enhanced anti-poaching techniques.

The tiger’s last strongholds stand on the edge of a precipice, largely due to human activity. Protecting core breeding sites and forest corridors is essential to the Malayan tiger’s recovery. Photo: Derek Dammon Photography, taken at Cincinnati Zoo.

COLLIDING WORLDS
A CAT Walk is no ordinary walk in the park. Weekend and holiday walks are a priority because opportunistic poachers work extra hard at these times when wildlife and forestry enforcement personnel are not on duty. Our weekend mission? To locate and deactivate snares, gather data from and replace camera traps, report GPS coordinates of suspected poacher activity to the Wildlife Crime Hotline, and deepen our relationship of care and respect for Malaysia’s rich wildlife heritage. We begin by observing how wilderness and development collide around Taman Negara. For example, an elevated highway under construction illustrates how Malaysian ingenuity is aiming to pursue the future while also preserving the wild. These “green” bridges for cars and trucks can provide safe underpasses for tigers, elephants and other wildlife as the animals move from one protected area to another.

Understanding how tigers and other wildlife make use of underpasses will be an important research topic when this elevated highway opens in coming months. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

Seeking a trailhead, our entry into the forest is obscured by acres of monotonous palm oil plantations flanking the park’s lush, dense lowlands. In stark contrast to Taman Negara’s ancient and towering groves, fast-growing palm oil plantations remain forever young as they are harvested and replanted intensively. We are reminded that even in this remote area, human-driven monoculture is expanding, nipping away at the forest’s feet. 

Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

REINFORCEMENTS
The combination of recreation and hard work is yielding great payoff. From day one, it’s clear that MYCAT’s innovative efforts with citizen conservation are effective. Our guide helps us navigate dense vegetation, narrow trails and, in some places, no trails. One CAT Walk participant falls into a stream, but still smiling, gets out quickly and safely. As sweat beads on my forehead, I note how rigorous the muddy hills are even for the youngest volunteers. Even so, no one complains and we march on. Shortly, we are rewarded by locating a tiger-monitoring camera trap which the CAT Walk leader had asked us to find. We download digital images and swap out equipment, which we secure onto the tree trunks at tiger height.

Camera trap technology helps identify key habitats tigers use to hunt and breed in the Taman Negara region. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.
Data from camera traps allow park rangers to predict routes for anti-poaching patrols. Photo: Kae Kawanishi, MYCAT

In a forest immediately adjacent to the park, we come upon a poachers’ camp camouflaged under off-trail bushes. Some camps, like this one, are rudimentary. Part-time opportunists haul in a few snares and basic camping supplies. Increasingly, however, the rudimentary is giving way to highly organized illegal trafficking by well-funded international groups. Their planning and precision elevate the killing of tigers and other wildlife to a whole new level. Rising threats to tigers and other wildlife call for stringent, front-line protection by professional law enforcement agencies. No doubt citizen CAT Walks play a crucial supporting role to these urgent conservation efforts.

Evidence of a poacher’s camp. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

MUCH MORE THAN SAVING TIGERS
A strength of landscape-level conservation is that it saves much more than a single animal species. Within a complex habitat, directing protection to flagship species, such as Malayan tigers or elephants, is like putting a protective umbrella over thousands of other species, including the tiger’s prey. Preserving diversity in the web of life sustains healthy ecosystems, which serve us all for the long haul. 

Conserving apex predators, those at the top of the food chain, such as tigers, benefits the sustainability of many other forest species in complex ecosystems.

Day Two finds us deeper in the forest in an unprotected part of the wildlife corridor, encountering signs of other animals in this web threatened by wildlife crime. A cold, hard fact of CAT Walks is that, outside of occasionally amazing camera trap images, finding evidence of poaching can be gruesome. Sun bear body parts are prized in traditional Asian medicine and highly valuable on the black market. We encounter deep scratch marks on a tree trunk, belying a sun bear’s long, futile struggle to escape a snare. Its skeletal remains had been documented the previous January. 

With one of its paws painfully trapped in a poacher’s snare, a sun bear had clawed away a layer of this rubber tree’s bark in its desperate attempt to save itself. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

As a team member records the sun bear site data, quietness descends and emotions well up inside of us. I think about the delicate reality of all the forest’s species, their lives connected by eons of ecosystem biology, only to have their species’ demise brought on by a short period of human activity. But I am reminded that that’s why we’re here: to help reverse this trend. And there’s essential work to do. So we continue on, our resolve and purpose tested.

Snare hidden in a tree. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

Soon, a great reward comes to us. Members of our volunteer group unearth a cache of snares hidden in a tree trunk. Our earlier quietness transforms into rousing pride and celebration. Immediately we report the find to authorities through MYCAT’s Wildlife Crime Hotline. Confiscating these snares represents very real animalsperhaps even several Malayan tigerssaved from the grip of poaching.

CAT Walkers celebrate finding and confiscating a cache of snares hidden in a tree trunk. Photos: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

This experience is about making a difference on the ground for tigers, literally and figuratively. The find alone is enough to make the muddy hills, the sweat, and the leeches worth it. I know that the other CAT Walkers feel the same way.

ORDINARY PEOPLE, EXTRAORDINARY ACTION
Margaret Mead urged us never to underestimate the power of a small, dedicated group of people to change the world. MYCAT and its CAT Walks are living proof of that truism. But it doesn’t come cheap. MYCAT has to pay for the CAT coordinator and volunteer coordinator’s salaries, vehicles, insurance for volunteers, costs of training volunteer leaders, volunteer leaders’ stipend, camera trap technology, GPS units, supplies, radios, training, first aid and more. CAT Walk participants actually pay their own way for transportation, housing and food. 

With additional support, MYCAT seeks to expand its leadership in building the citizen conservation movement. CAT Walks are essential in the success equation. About a third of participants are repeats, and MYCAT selects many of those to receive special training as trail leaders. They will go on to lead more people on more CAT Walks, thus broadening and sustaining the conservation cycle. MYCAT now has 289 CAT Walkers from 24 countries. 

A CAT Walk leader-in-training collects data for mapping tigers’ use of an important corridor to Taman Negara National Park. Having completed several CAT Walks himself, he’ll lead countless other conservation citizens on a journey to save a national wildlife treasure. Photo: Fred Koontz/WPZ.

Establishing official anti-poaching communications around the borders of Taman Negara National Park increases the legal authority with which to prosecute poachers. Photo: Suzalinur Manja Bidin/MYCAT

I hope MYCAT can expand because their work is a critical component to saving wild Malayan tigers. Accredited zoos have a key role in the success equation, too. Imagine if tiger keepers from a collective of zoos joined CAT Walks to learn first-hand how ordinary people are saving wild tigers, and then shared those compelling stories with millions of zoo visitors. In fact, conservation stories like this one will be a cornerstone of WPZ’s new Malayan tiger and sloth bear exhibit.

Artist’s rendering of Woodland Park Zoo’s future Malayan tiger exhibit. Credit: MIR

A training wall will enable guests to get closer than ever to these wondrous creatures while a new conservation action center provides them the tools to get directly involved in saving Malayan tigers. Credit: MIR

When it opens in 2015, one million Woodland Park Zoo visitors a year will connect to meaningful actions they can take, right here, right now to save wild tigers. Even now, 9,000 miles away, you can give Malayan tigers a future by supporting the CAT Walks or our new tiger exhibit and conservation partnership

Thank you for joining the CAT Walkers and me on this awesome journey. I've never felt more humbled or inspired than by walking through tiger country. Have you?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ivory crush sends a message about wildlife trafficking

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will crush six tons of confiscated ivory, representing thousands of elephants killed to fuel the illegal ivory trade all over the world, including the U.S. While the ivory destroyed was not actively in the market and won’t directly affect supply or demand, it does send a message: end the trade, save the elephants. Learn more about ivory trafficking.


The good news from our conservation partner, the Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania, is that your support has helped them increase poaching patrols, which has led to the arrest of 10 poachers this year. With tougher laws and enforcement, increased efforts on the ground, and a commitment from you to never buy ivory, we can keep the good news coming.

Share this post if you share hope with us that we can make a difference!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday, Cublets!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

 

Happy Birthday dear Nobuhle, Busela, Pelo and Rudo! Our foursome of frisky lion cubs celebrated their first trip around the sun today with a lot of gnawing, pawing and yes…yawning.

 
 
Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The cubs were born one year ago on November 8th. Today, the young lions received balls and bones in specially scented boxes as well as their favorite treat, bloodsicles (frozen carnivore ice pops) to celebrate their 1st birthday.
 
Here’s a recap of the birthday party antics:
 
Zookeeper Christine Fenwick started prepping for the event early this week by painting the large cardboard boxes in which to hide the birthday prizes. “The cubs have never had boxes this large,” she explained. “They are going to love ripping into them!” Christine painted the boxes with a simple non-toxic acrylic, safe for cub handling. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
 

 
Mom Adia was first on the scene and the cubs hung back to let her check out the mysterious packages at the far end of the exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

 

 
Slowly, very slowly, and suspiciously, the cubs followed their brave mama to a little hill above the enrichment boxes. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo. 

Adia was pretty quick to smash into the big box with her name on it; she seemed to know exactly which one was intended for her! Then, she sniffed out the other smaller boxes, but didn’t rip into any of them. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
 
After seeing mom check out the novel items, the cubs cautiously sniffed and pawed at the boxes, daintily licked the bloodsicles and finally began to dig in. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
 


A tiny lion nibble. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Busela grabbed the biggest bone and paraded it around before settling down on the hot rock to snack. Her brothers were more interested in nipping each other than the enrichment and sister Nobuhle mostly lounged around on the hill, in true teenage lion fashion, and watched the others investigate the cardboard boxes.

 
Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

 
Playing bite the mom. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
 
The lions get enrichment every day, as do all of our animals as part of our excellent animal care program,  but birthdays are indeed extra special. Keeper Christine tells us a little about the cubs’ choice delicacies.
 
Nobuhle, who is a lot like her father, Hubert, prefers to languidly check out all the enrichment, play with her sibs and doesn’t mind sharing her toys.
 
Pelo, our rowdy young male, really digs pumpkins, like really a lot. During Pumpkin Bash, the keepers stuck a few pumpkins on the notches of a log. When Pelo discovered this, he began to spin the pumpkin like a prize wheel until the entire thing fell apart in his claws.
 
Rudo, the shyer male, is more reserved around his keepers, but gets very possessive with scented items. A connoisseur of the finer eau de warthog poop, Rudo will pick up a scented paper towel tube and parade it around the exhibit like a victory flag.
 
Busela is a little roughian, and enjoys teasing her siblings. Her favorite part of enrichment activities might just be nipping her brothers.

 

 
Cub stares down an elusive bloodsicle. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

All of the cubs really love the bloodsicles, which are by far their preferred delicacy.

 
Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Mama Adia, still a young lion herself, is generally pretty content to let her cubs have first dibs on enrichment items, but when the cubs wear themselves out, you can bet that Adia will get her own play time in too!

 
Paws up for birthday relaxing! Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.


With a year of healthy growth alongside their mother, Adia, Woodland Park Zoo’s animal management staff is now making plans to move the cubs to other zoos in 2014. The cubs will become part of the Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos, and will someday birth new cubs of their own.
 
Happy Birthday lion cubs! Thank you Adia for being such a wonderful mama! And special thanks to our keepers for the incredible dedication and animal care they give this beautiful feline family.