Four-month-old Woodland Park Zoo sloth bear siblings, Mudhu (muh-DOO) and Lila (LEE-lah) sleep snuggled together in the spring sunshine under the protective gaze of their mom, Kushali.
In honor of #GiveBIG, enjoy this footage of Kushali and her cubs napping in springtime bliss!
In the wild, sloth bears live in forested grasslands, where they use their superior sense of smell to find ant and termite colonies beneath the ground. Once found, they wield their three-inch long claws to break them open before slurping up the delicious insects with the powerful suction force of their mouths.
Your GiveBIG gift helps create habitats that engage all of these natural behaviors—from digging, to slurping, to climbing on Woodland Park Zoo'ss newly updated tree structure, so that mom, Kushali, can teach her cubs everything they need to know to be a well-rounded member of the sloth bear community.
SEATTLE—Just in time for Earth Day, the names for Woodland Park Zoo’s brother and sister sloth bear cubs are in!
Drum roll, please…the name for the boy sloth bear cub is Madhu (muh-DOO), which means “sweet, honey,” and Lila (LEE-lah), which means “play, amusement.” Both names are Hindi to represent India, one of several countries where sloth bears live.
SEATTLE—The 2022 New Year started with an auspicious beginning for Woodland Park Zoo: the birth of twin sloth bears! The cubs—a boy and a girl—were born on New Year’s Day and marked the first birth at the zoo for the year.
The cubs, who are unnamed at this time, were born to first-time mom Kushali (kuu-SHAW-lee) and dad Bhutan (boo-TAHN). This is the second litter of cubs for Bhutan and the first successful birth for Kushali, who was born in 2012 at Woodland Park Zoo. The last birth of sloth bears at the zoo was in 2017.
Sloth bears in zoos are rare, with only 34 currently living in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Every birth of sloth bears is significant for the Sloth Bear Species Survival Plan. Species Survival Plans are cooperative breeding programs across accredited zoos to help ensure healthy, genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of select species or subspecies.
Happy 1st birthday to Woodland Park Zoo’s littlest gorilla girl! She’s the one with the birthday, Saturday January 29, but YOU get the gift of this delightful little mashup featuring some of Zuna’s (and half-brother Kitoko’s) best moves!
Get the scoop on this little love: https://bit.ly/BirthdayGirlZuna
To learn more about WPZoo's youngsters, visit: https://www.zoo.org/growingupgorilla
To learn more about how you can help protect endangered gorillas, check out https://www.zoo.org/savinggorillas
World, meet Ande! Woodland Park Zoo’s baby Southern pudu, a male born in July, officially has a name. While Ande may be one of the world’s smallest deer, he’s actually named after the second-highest mountain range in the world—the Andes Mountains! It’s also where pudu like Ande are native to.
Today is World Gorilla Day (it’s September 24) and this is the perfect time for an update on the youngest member of Woodland Park Zoo’s western lowland gorilla family—Zuna!
Little Zuna is nearly 8 months old right now and is doing great! She weighs around 11 ½ pounds now, which is double her birth weight. Zuna continues to become more and more active and while mama Nadiri tends to keep her close, she is on the move whenever she gets the chance. Sometimes, when Nadiri is trying to get some rest (because being a gorilla mama is a 24/7 job!) Zuna uses that time to venture out a bit—climbing or toddling around. She still takes bottles from the gorilla keepers a few times a day but is trying lots of solid foods now too, including cucumber, yams, carrots and a special fortified biscuit. She also loves to forage for any fruit rinds and extra tidbits of food that Nadiri drops as she eats her meals.
Visitors to Woodland Park Zoo are oohing and aahing as they catch their first sightings of baby girl gorilla, Zuna (zoo-nah). The 11 week old is now with her mom and family in the public outdoor habitat on a limited schedule: 12:30-3:30 p.m. daily (weather dependent).
Zuna, which means “sweet” in the African language, Lingala (lin-gah-lah), is the second baby for 25-year-old mom Nadiri (naw-DEER-ee) and the first between her and the dad, 21-year-old Kwame (KWA-may).
“We continue to bottle feed Zuna for her nourishment while mom Nadiri provides maternal care. She’s doing an excellent job. Once Zuna’s feedings are reduced, we’ll be able to extend her time outdoors,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.
The baby gorilla is becoming more active and steadily becoming stronger and more observant. “Zuna’s watching the other gorillas in her family with growing curiosity. Kitoko, our 1-year-old boy, is especially interested in her,” said Ramirez. “Once Zuna becomes more mobile, our zoo visitors are going to be in for a real treat watching these youngsters romp and play. As symbols of hope for their cousins in the wild, our gorillas can inspire our community to care about and take action on behalf of these gentle giants and other wildlife.”
The other members of Zuna’s family are: Nadiri’s 5-year-old daughter, Yola, Akenji and Uzumma, the mom of Kitoko.
Stay tuned to updates and milestones by visiting zoo.org/growingupgorilla and following the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #GrowingUpGorilla.
Every visit to Woodland Park Zoo supports conservation of animals in the wild. Join the zoo by recycling old cell phones and other used handheld electronics through ECO-CELL to help preserve gorilla habitat. Funds generated from ECO-CELL support the Mondika Gorilla Project and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
ZooParent adoptions are the perfect way to pay tribute to Zuna. ZooParent adoptions help Woodland Park Zoo provide exceptional care for all of its amazing animals and support wildlife conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
Baby Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo
Woodland Park Zoo is jumping for joey over its 8-month-old Matschie’s tree kangaroo! The male joey (a baby marsupial), born last August to mom Omari and dad Rocket, is just beginning to venture outside the safety of his mom’s pouch. To the surprise of no one, he’s positively precious.
The 2-pound joey is named Havam (hay-vam) which is the word for “tree kangaroo” in one of the many languages of the YUS Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea, home to wild but endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroos. YUS is home to Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, whose amazing work for the people and wildlife of Papua New Guinea would not be possible without support from donors and organizations like the Shared Earth Foundation, which ensures that all creatures have an enduring claim to sustainable space on this planet.
This joey’s journey may surprise you: Tree kangaroos are born hairless, blind and only the size of a jelly bean. In order to survive, the joey must quickly crawl from the birth canal, through its mother’s fur and into her pouch to immediately start nursing. At first, Havam did get a little bit too eager to make his debut, explains animal keeper Beth Carlyle-Askew.
“Havam exited Omari’s pouch a little early — we actually had to put him back in to finish growing for a few more months. Luckily an animal keeper saw him outside the pouch and knew exactly what to do. She kept him warm by putting him in her shirt, then put him in a fabric pouch with a heated pad until he could be returned to Omari’s pouch,” said Carlyle-Askew.
As each day passes, little Havam is familiarizing himself with the world around him. He makes short trips out of the pouch to explore his new home, but he still prefers the warmth and safety of Omari’s pouch. When he’s not nursing, Havam is starting to try solid foods, sampling all of his mom’s food to figure out what he likes best. He’s even been learning to climb up and around his enclosure! At 14 months old, Havam will wean from nursing and eventually become fully independent.
Havam is the third joey for dad Rocket, who fathered Havam’s half-siblings Ecki and Keweng, born to the zoo’s other female tree kangaroo Elanna in 2018 and 2020, respectively. This is the fourth joey for Omari, who had three other joeys at Santa Fe Teaching Zoo before coming to live at Woodland Park Zoo. All of the zoo’s tree kangaroos are currently living in a habitat that is off view to the public.
Woodland Park Zoo is home to the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program that is working to protect the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo and help maintain the unique biodiversity of its native Papua New Guinea in balance with the culture and needs of the people who live there. Consider supporting the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program here: www.zoo.org/tkcp/donate.
World Wildlife Day 2021 was particularly special for Woodland Park Zoo this year because it ushered in the 1st birthday of little Kitoko, a male western lowland gorilla born March 4 during the pandemic. “While the zoo was closed for nearly four months, we shared loads of photos of Kitoko—his milestones and tender moments—with our community and zoo family. He has touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people during a tumultuous time and brought so much joy,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator of Woodland Park Zoo.
Become a ZooBorns Patreon to see amazing bonus pictures of this and more babies featured on ZooBorns!
“Kitoko’s wild cousins live in tropical rain forests, so his birthday is the perfect time to pay tribute to the communities and wildlife who depend on those forests for survival,” added Ramirez. Western lowland gorillas live in seven countries across west equatorial Africa, including Congo, southeast Nigeria, Gabon and Central African Republic.
Forests and woodlands are mainstays of human livelihoods and well-being. Indigenous and rural communities have a particularly close relationship with these natural systems. They rely on these systems to meet their essential needs, from food and shelter to energy and medicines. Forests, forest wildlife, and the livelihoods that depend on them are facing multiple crises: from climate change to deforestation and biodiversity loss, as well as the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SEATTLE—The baby boom continues at Woodland Park Zoo with the birth of a western lowland gorilla and it’s a girl! The mom, Nadiri (naw-DEER-ee), gave birth Friday, January 29, at 10:25 a.m. (PST). The gestation period for gorillas is eight to nine months.
Credit for photos and video: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Shortly after birth, zoo gorilla and veterinary staff had to step in and place the baby under round-the-clock care in the gorilla building because Nadiri had not picked up her baby to nurse or keep her warm enough the first day. Staff are nourishing the baby by bottle feeding her human infant formula, keeping her warm and providing her with short visits with her mother; the baby is doing well.
The first 72 hours of life are the most critical for a newborn gorilla. “We will continue to provide hands-on care while keeping the baby in close proximity to Nadiri 24/7 and attempting to reintroduce her to mom,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. Nadiri has visual, auditory and olfactory contact with her baby. “We will continue to introduce Nadiri to her baby. She is staying close and has picked up her baby for short periods over the weekend, but has not shown any interest in nursing her. By doing short introduction sessions frequently throughout each day, we hope her maternal instinct will soon kick in.”
SEATTLE—Not all babies born or hatched at Woodland Park Zoo are warm, cuddly, furry and feathered. Adding to this year’s baby boom, the zoo is proud to announce its newest hatching: approximately 30 medicinal leeches (they’re very difficult to count!)!
The new leeches are among the many animals born or hatched at the zoo since the pandemic including snowy owls, penguins, a tapir, gorilla, pudu and mountain goat.
It will take about two to three years for the new leeches to reach their adult size of approximately 6 inches.
The leech hatchlings are the offspring of multiple adults the zoo rescued four years ago. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the adult leeches from an individual traveling from Russia to the U.S. who attempted to smuggle more than 40 adult leeches in water bottles. Woodland Park Zoo accepted all the leeches into its care.
Earlier this year, the zoo received 22 more adult leeches from a U.S. breeder; the adult leeches from Russia immediately started breeding with the new additions.
“Woodland Park Zoo works closely with wildlife agencies as a partner for consultation and providing a safe home for reptiles, spiders, and other animals on a case-by-case basis, and in this case, leeches,” said Erin Sullivan, an animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “We’re very excited about the newest members to our zoo family!”
Two years ago, the zoo rescued 250 tarantula spiderlings that were confiscated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from an importer.
Medicinal leeches are rare in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), like Woodland Park Zoo. “Since medicinal leeches are not a species commonly found in AZA-accredited organizations, we are currently trying to collect data on who has them, who is breeding them and who would like them for educational programs,” said Sullivan. “So far, we have already had interest in our leech hatchlings from other AZA organizations who would like to have them on exhibit.”
Feeding leeches can be a messy business. “We feed our leeches blood-filled sausages by filling natural sausage casings with beef blood, tying the ends and warming them up to about 100˚F. We then let the leeches go to town!” said animal keeper Megan Blandford. They don’t need to be fed often. “After an initial feeding immediately after hatching, the leeches will be fed only four times a year. But in the wild they regularly go an entire year without eating!”
Visitors fascinated by leeches can see the adults and babies in Bug World when the temporarily closed building reopens to the public. To keep visitors safe, Bug World and other indoor areas remain closed including Family Farm, Zoomazium, the Tropical Rain Forest and the Historic Carousel. Visit www.zoo.org/visit for more information.
For many, leeches evoke the “ick” and fear factor. However, in medieval and early modern medicine, medicinal leeches were an important medical tool for a long-standing tradition of bloodletting, which helped balance the humors (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile), and to treat other illnesses and infections.
Today, there is an increasing demand for medicinal leeches because of the comeback in leech therapy and their value. Leech saliva contains a chemical called hirudin, a natural anticoagulant to prevent blood clots. This chemical keeps blood flowing to wounds to help them heal.
In today’s medical field, medicinal leeches are mostly used for plastic surgery, microsurgery, grafting and constructive surgery. Leeches are also prescribed for other ailments, including varicose veins, neuropathy, blocked arteries and osteoarthritis. Learn more about the valuable role of medicinal leeches.
Leeches are closely related to a subclass of animals that include the earthworm.
Only 15 of the 600+ species of leeches are used medicinally: Hirudo medicinalis, the European medicinal leech, is one of several species of medicinal leeches.
Medicinal leeches, a near threatened species, are protected in much of their natural range since they are nearly extinct in many of the swamps and pools they would naturally be found in, due to collection for use in traditional medicine.
Leech therapy is used to treat people with heart disease because of its potential to improve inflammation and blood flow. In the past few years, leech therapy has become an acceptable alternative therapy for people with vascular disease and disorders.
Medicinal leeches have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth. They pierce a person’s skin with their teeth and insert anticoagulants through their saliva. The leeches draw blood for 20 to 45 minutes at a time from the person undergoing treatment.
After the leeches lay an egg, depending on environmental conditions, it can take anywhere from three weeks to 11 months for an egg to hatch out between five and 200 babies.
With regular care and feedings, leeches can live five to six years in human care.
How to Help at Home
Take care to preserve wetlands for species that live there such as leeches, amphibians, turtles and other species that require this kind of habitat to survive.
Keep waterways clean by limiting the use of pesticides and chemicals in your yard. Never let oil, grease, or fertilizers leak into places where storm water run-off can carry them into waterways and wetlands.
Support wetlands conservation: Wetlands protect shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality for all.