Woodland Park Zoo

Rare Western Pond Turtles at Woodland Park Zoo

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The forty-five Western Pond Turtle hatchlings at Woodland Park Zoo are not only tiny and cute, but also very rare and precious. As part of a collaborative recovery project with Washington state, the turtles were gathered as eggs from nests at a protected site and brought to Woodland Park Zoo where they will receive excellent care until they are released to specified sites next summer.

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4_WPZ-JLoughlin-TurtleHatchlings2019-82Photo Credits: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

Late each summer, turtles are brought as eggs or hatchlings and given a head start on life at Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Unlike wild turtles, they are fed at the zoo throughout the winter so that by summer they are nearly as big as 3-year-old turtles that grew up in the wild. Once the turtles reach about 2 ounces—a suitable size to escape the mouths of invasive predatory bullfrogs—they are returned to protected sites and monitored by biologists.

The Western Pond Turtle once ranged from Washington’s Puget Sound lowlands, southward through Western Oregon and California to Baja California. By 1990, their numbers plummeted to only about 150 in two populations in the state of Washington. These last remaining individuals struggled for survival as they battled predation by the non-native bullfrog, disease and habitat loss. A respiratory disease threatened the remaining turtles and biologists could not find evidence confirming hatchling survival.

In 1991, Woodland Park Zoo and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) joined forces to recover Western Pond Turtles by initiating a head start program. In 1993, the state listed the Western Pond Turtle as endangered. In 1999, Oregon Zoo joined the recovery team and, over the years, other nonprofits, government agencies and private partners have contributed to the multi-institutional conservation project. Because of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, more than 1,000 turtles thrive today at protected sites.

Over the last several years, an emerging shell disease affecting 29 to 49 percent of the wild population threatens decades of recovery progress. Known to cause lesions in a turtle’s shell, severe cases can lead to lowered fitness and even death. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have joined the recovery efforts by collaborating to better understand the disease. The aquarium and university are looking at the disease from a microbial and pathological perspective to better understand its origin and the role environmental factors could play. The goal is to give young turtles a better chance at survival in the wild.

Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo are working with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners to address this urgent situation: studying the disease, treating severely diseased turtles, and providing overwinter care for turtles to allow their shells to heal before they are released back into the wild. After the treated turtles are released, WDFW monitors the turtles to determine if they remain healthy and are able to reproduce normally in the wild.

In 27 years, self-sustaining populations have been re-established in two regions of the state: Puget Sound and the Columbia River Gorge. More than 2,100 turtles have been head started and released, and surveys indicate that more than 1,000 of the released turtles have survived and continue to thrive at six sites.

The Western Pond Turtle is one of 19 species that are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) initiative, which focuses on the collective expertise within AZA’s accredited institutions and leverages their massive audiences to save species. AZA and its members are convening scientists and stakeholders to identify the threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and engage the public. AZA SAFE harnesses the collective power of all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and invites the public to join the effort.


Red Panda Cubs Start to Explore

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Twin Red Panda cubs at Woodland Park Zoo have reached another milestone: stepping outside of their den and exploring their bedroom! The sisters, named Zeya (ZAY-uh) and Ila (EE-la), were born June 19 to mom Hazel and dad Yukiko and are the first successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo in 29 years.

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Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 3bPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

ZooBorns previously shared photos of the cubs’ neonatal exam and the announcement of their names.
 
The 2½-month-old cubs, which currently weigh 4 pounds each, and Hazel have been living off public view in an indoor, climate-controlled space where the first-time mom can nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment. A camera in the den has allowed animal care staff to monitor the family to ensure the cubs are thriving and mom is providing appropriate care; human contact has been minimal except for neonatal exams as part of the zoo’s exemplary animal welfare program.
 
During quick wellness checks on the new family, the animal keepers caught the first sightings of the cubs venturing outside of the den and exploring the bedroom. “This is very exciting to see our cubs beginning to explore outside of their den. We can’t confirm how much time they’re spending in the bedroom, but we suspect they’re most active outside the den during nighttime,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “This indicates they’re meeting important milestones in their development by increasing their mobility skills, curiosity and navigation within their surroundings. These skills will serve them well when they are introduced to the outdoor exhibit.”
 
The zoo anticipates putting Hazel, Zeya and Ila in the outdoor public exhibit by mid-October/November. Guests visiting the zoo can see the zoo’s other Red Panda, a 4-year-old male named Carson, in the Wildlife Survival Zone

Red Pandas share the name of Giant Pandas, but more closely resemble Raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An Endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations.




Woodland Park Zoo's Red Panda Sisters Given Names

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The results are in! Names have been chosen for Woodland Park Zoo’s Red Panda sisters.

The first fuzzy cub is now known as Zeya (ZAY-uh), meaning “success” in Burmese, and the second cub has been named Ila (EE-la), meaning “earth” in Sanskrit.

Zeya’s name was chosen by more than 1,600 participants in online voting between three names selected by the zookeepers. Ila’s name was chosen by the Rosauer family (longtime friends and of the zoo).

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Unnamed (2)Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The Red Panda cubs, like many of the zoo’s other animals, were named to honor the land that they are native to. Red Pandas are indigenous to the Himalayan mountain region that includes parts of Nepal, Myanmar, China and northern regions of India. “Zeya” is derived from the Burmese language, which is the official language of Myanmar. “Ila” can be translated as “earth” and comes from the ancient Sanskrit language from which many modern languages spoken in India are derived.

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Red Panda Cubs Get Their Third Checkup

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Woodland Park Zoo’s veterinary team recently performed a third neonatal exam on the zoo’s twin Red Panda cubs. The 5-week-old female cubs, born on June 19, have opened their eyes and weigh just under two pounds each. At birth, they weighed about five ounces each. The parents of the cubs are two-year-old mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko.

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Unnamed (1)Photo Credit: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

We first introduced the twins on ZooBorns shortly after their second neonatal exam last month.

As a first-time mom, Hazel continues to provide attentive care in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she can nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment; the den is off view to zoo guests. Yukiko does not yet have contact with his new family, but introductions will be planned in the near future.

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs in their exhibit habitat by mid-October and the community will be invited to participate in a public naming later this summer.

Red Pandas share a name with Giant Pandas, but recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas, and Myanmar. They share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing human populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal.


Zoo Celebrates Birth of Red Panda Twins

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Woodland Park Zoo’s three-week-old Red Panda cubs had their second neonatal exam this week and the female twins are healthy and thriving. The cubs were born on June 19 to two-year-old mom Hazel and 14-year-old dad Yukiko. The last successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo was in 1989.

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Unnamed (2)Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The exam was performed by the zoo’s veterinary team as a part of the zoo’s exemplary care program for its 1,200 animals. Born at about five ounces each, the cubs now weigh just over a pound. “We’re pleased with this weight gain, which means both cubs continue to nurse and have healthy appetites. Their eyes are not open yet but they are quite vocal as cubs should be,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health. 

Hazel, a first-time mom, lives in a private indoor, climate-controlled habitat, which provides a quiet environment where she can bond with her cubs. Because Red Pandas normally live alone, except for mothers with cubs, the dad remains separated from the new family. 

“We continue to monitor mom and cubs via a den cam to ensure they are thriving and we have minimal physical contact with the family,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The cubs are crawling and are capable of rolling over to upright positions. In another week or so, we should begin seeing continued motor skill development. This first month for newborn Red Pandas is an important time and our twins are on target with important developmental milestones.”

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs on exhibit for guests to see by mid-October. “Timing will depend on their ability to safely navigate elevated branches, trees and other exhibit features. Because Red Pandas live in high-altitude temperate forests with bamboo understories in the Himalayas and high mountains, they are very comfortable in the coldest of conditions throughout the winter,” explained Myers. The community will be invited to participate in a public naming later this summer. 

Red Pandas share the name of Giant Pandas, but recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing human populations. 

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal.


Meet Daisy the Baby Mountain Goat

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A 2-year-old Mountain Goat, Bluebelle, gave birth Saturday, June 16, to a female kid at Woodland Park Zoo. The last birth of a Mountain Goat at the zoo was in 1995.
  
The zoo’s animal health staff performed a neonatal exam Sunday on the new Goat, which was named Daisy by the zoo staff. According to Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo, Daisy weighed 10 pounds and appears healthy, with good body condition and a strong suckling reflex. Lab tests indicate that she has been successfully nursing and received colostrum from Bluebelle.
  
“So far we’re seeing attentive maternal care by first-time mom Bluebelle. Nursing sessions are regular and mom and her newborn are bonding,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo.

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35671494_10156692218997708_1856944224415514624_nPhoto Credit: Woodland Park Zoo

The new kid is the first offspring for Bluebelle and dad Albert. Albert moved in April to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs to help increase genetic representation of the species in accredited zoos.

Bluebelle and Daisy’s zoo habitat replicates the rocky crags and ledges that these animals would encounter in their native range in the mountainous northwestern United States and Canada.  The zoo’s award-winning Northern Trail exhibit features other animals that have adapted to the cold, rugged regions of the north including Grizzlies, Snowy Owls, Wolves, Elk and Steller’s Sea Eagles.

Rocky Mountain Goats naturally range from southern Alaska, Canada, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Transplanted populations now live in Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, South Dakota and Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Remarkably adapted for life on steep mountain ledges, Mountain Goats live, sleep, and eat at elevations of 10,000 feet and up. They are well-adapted to extremely harsh conditions such as snowy slopes with pitches above 60 degrees, winds up to 100 mph, snow drifts of 30–60 feet high and temperatures reaching minus 50 degrees F.
 
A Mountain Goat’s incredible adaptations allow it to live high above potential predators such as Mountain Lions, Bears or Wolverines. The only predator that lives above the timberline is the Golden Eagle which might attack a newborn or very young Goat.
 
Woodland Park Zoo supports the conservation of Mountain Goats and other Cascadia wildlife through the Living Northwest suite.


Papú the Owl Chick Has An Important Job

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Back in April, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.

On April 17, a feisty little Burrowing Owl chick pipped its way out of that egg. The chick, a male, was named Papú. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “Burrowing Owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of eastern Washington. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was at hatching barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and his eyes were not open yet.

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Because Papú will be reared by his keepers, it was decided that he will become an ambassador animal at the Woodland Park Zoo. In this very important role, Papú will meet zoo guests to help build a strong connection between people and wildlife. Right away, Papú captured the hearts of the animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little Owl-self.

Papú is now nearly two months old and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.

At this point, his flights are limited to practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.

Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged Owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.

They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most Owls, Burrowing Owls are active day or night hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards. The Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.

See more photos below, including several of Papú right after he hatched.

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Screamer Chicks Hatch at Woodland Park Zoo

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A pair of female Crested Screamer chicks hatched in early March at Woodland Park Zoo. The little birds represent the first offspring between the 15-year-old mother and 23-year-old father. The last successful hatching of this species at the Seattle, WA, zoo was in 2002.

At just a few weeks old, the chicks are fluffy and downy and currently weigh about 6 ounces.

“So far, we’re pleased to report the chicks are experiencing good weight gains,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “They’re eating well and the parents are very attentive. The chicks need lots of food and exercise to grow. Based on how they’re doing, we’re optimistic they’ll continue to thrive under the care of their parents and our animal care staff.”

According to the Zoo, Crested Screamer parents do not regurgitate food for their chicks. Instead, they lead the chicks to food and drop tasty treats as a lesson on how to peck for food. Myers said the Zoo’s family dines on a blend of game bird, waterfowl pellets, lots of fresh romaine, and broccoli florets.

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4_WPZScreamerChicksNestPhoto Credits: Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The Crested Screamer (Chauna torquata) is aptly named for its loud, distinctive call, making it among the loudest of any bird. Native to Bolivia and southern Brazil, to northern Argentina, these large goose-like birds are common in tropical and subtropical wetlands, including marshes, estuaries and lowland lakes.

Another distinctive feature of the species is a large, sharp spur on each wing, which the birds use to defend themselves against predators. Adults reach and average size of 81–95 cm (32–37 inches) long and a weight of around 3–5 kg (6.6–11.0 pounds).

Screamers form monogamous relationships, and both adults take part in incubation and caring for the chicks. The female lays between two to seven white eggs, and incubation takes 43 to 46 days. Chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch, but the parents will care for them for several weeks. The fledging period takes 8 to 14 weeks.

Although the Crested Screamer population is not threatened in their home range, Screamers and many other species of waterfowl are threatened by habitat loss due to human-imposed activities.

The new family at Woodland Park Zoo is currently off-exhibit, to allow animal keepers to monitor the chicks closely and weigh them regularly to ensure acceptable weight gains.

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Baby Sloth Bears Are Tiny Adventurers

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After months of cozying up with mom Tasha in the den, the Woodland Park Zoo’s 13-week-old Sloth Bear cubs took their first steps outdoors. The tiny adventurers explored all around, trying to climb on everything. The best perch of all? Mom's back!

Until now, fans have only been able to see the two male cubs via cameras installed in the maternity den. 

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DDow_3-25-18-SlothBearCubs-6Photo Credit: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

“We’re very excited to see Tasha and her cubs out on exhibit,” said Pat Owen, animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “The fact that they’ve started to go outside the maternity den and explore is a good indicator the cubs are healthy and thriving. At this time, the cubs and mom are still exploring and adjusting to their new surroundings. They will still have access to the off-view maternity den as they make this transition.”

The two male cubs, born December 27, 2017, are the offspring of 13-year-old mother Tasha and 17-year-old father Bhutan.
 
Sloth Bears are native to the lower elevations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. There are currently less than 10,000 remaining in the wild. Their survival is challenged by fragmented populations, competition with other animals (particularly humans) for space and food, deforestation, and the illegal trade in Bear parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicines.

For more than 400 years, Sloth Bears were targeted for human exploitation to perform as “Dancing Bears;” in 2009, the last Dancing Bear in India was released. Woodland Park Zoo is a participant in the Sloth Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program under the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) that ensures genetic diversity and demographic stability among Sloth Bears in North American zoos. Prior to the birth of these cubs, Woodland Park Zoo had five Sloth Bear births; two sets of twins and one cub which did not survive.
 
Woodland Park Zoo supports Wildlife SOS in their Sloth Bear maternal and day denning research project focused on Sloth Bears in the wild and in zoos. The project aims to learn more about day dens (used by Sloth Bears as a place to rest in safety during daylight hours), and the maternal dens used to give birth to and raise cubs.


 


Snow Leopard Cub Takes It Outside

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When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.

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2017_09_19 Aibek snow leopard 900-1wmPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.

You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.

Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.

Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.

More photos and info below!

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