Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo Celebrates Crane Hatchlings

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For the first time in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history, a pair of White-naped Cranes successfully hatched. The chicks emerged July 9 and 10 and are the first offspring for 8-year-old mom, Laura, and 9-year-old dad, Cal. The sex of the unnamed chicks has not yet been determined.

The Seattle, WA zoo has had White-naped Cranes for around 30 years, but none successfully produced offspring until now. The new parents have been at the zoo for five years.

“This is such a significant hatching and a symbol of hope for the vulnerable species,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The successful breeding and hatching are attributed to the bond between the parents, the quality of their habitat, and the expert day-to-day care and dedication provided by our animal keepers. We’re very proud of our team and our new parents.”

According to Myers, cranes are monogamous and can be very picky when choosing a mate: “Even the slightest incompatibility between two birds can prevent successful breeding; they will only breed once a strong pair bond is formed between them. Even then, it can take several years to solidify that bond,” explained Myers.

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Photo Credits: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Parents Cal and Laura were paired on a recommendation from the White-naped Crane Species Survival Plan, a cooperative conservation-breeding program to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of White-naped Cranes in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. There are currently fewer than 75 White-naped Cranes in the program. This successful hatching has augmented the numbers of this long-lived species.

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Woodland Park Zoo's Otter Pups Have Names

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Woodland Park Zoo’s ‘otterly adorable’ North American River Otter pups officially have names! The two boys have been named Tucker and Nooksack, and the two girls were named Piper and Tahu.

According to Woodland Park staff, Nooksack, Piper, and Tahu were thoughtfully named by three families who are great friends of the zoo, and Tucker’s name was voted on by zoo-goers that attended the zoo’s “Bear Affair: Living Northwest Conservation Day”.

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3_unnamed (5)Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Swimming doesn’t come naturally to otters. Keepers report that first-time mom, Valkyrie, has been a phenomenal teacher, masterfully showing her babies the ins and outs of navigating the water in their exhibit’s pool. The pups are mastering the art of diving, and with four pups to teach at once, that’s no easy feat for mom. The babies quickly took to the water, and their initial splashing and paddling has now blossomed into graceful diving and gliding through the pool.

All four otter pups, and mom Valkyrie, are in their outdoor habitat, located at the zoo’s Northern Trail, daily between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If they’re not visible, they’re most likely napping — all that swimming can really wear a pup out!

The four pups were born in March and are all still nursing with their mom. Their current weights are between 4 and 6 pounds each. The pups are the first offspring for mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy (both 5 years old). It’s also the first-ever documented River Otter birth in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history!

North American River Otters (Lontra Canadensis) are semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. Their habitat ranges over most of North America in coastal areas, estuaries, freshwater lakes, streams and rivers; they can be found in water systems all over Washington State. River Otters consume a wide variety of prey such as fish, crayfish, amphibians and birds. At the top of the food chain, River Otters are an excellent reflection of the health of local ecosystems.

All otter species are considered threatened, while five of the 13 species are endangered due to water pollution, overfishing of commercial stock, and habitat destruction.

To help Woodland Park Zoo contribute information to sustainable breeding, husbandry and public awareness of the River Otter, patrons can adopt the species through the zoo’s ZooParent program. For more information, see the zoo’s website: https://www.zoo.org/


Baby Giraffe Ditches His Corrective Shoes

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Baby Giraffe Hasani was born with rear leg abnormalities that prompted Woodland Park Zoo staff to fit him with custom-made shoes to improve his condition.  A few weeks later, he upgraded to newer shoes and went outdoors for the first time.

Now, his legs have improved and he no longer needs corrective shoes. He still wears kinesiology tape to stimulate and stabilize his leg muscles.

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61381532_10157606871717708_5661963096059543552_nPhoto Credit: J. Laughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

Immediately after Hasani’s birth on May 2, the zoo’s animal health team noticed each rear foot was not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in Giraffes. One day after the Giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs. 

The zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications and a modified design he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition.

After a few weeks, one of the shoes dropped off and Hasani appeared to be walking well without it so the staff did not intervene. Later that week, the veterinary staff removed the other shoe and cast material. “We’re pleased to report there is marked improvement in both rear limbs. Hasani’s walking well and continues to readily stand and lie down. He remains active like a calf his age should. We will continue to closely observe his gait, foot position, any limb and foot changes, energy and nursing,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian. 

The baby Giraffe continues to wear kinesiology tape to help stimulate and support his leg muscles. “If his condition regresses, we’re prepared to outfit him with another pair of shoes but we’re optimistic we won’t have to. So far he’s showing remarkable progress,” adds Storms. 

Hasani made his debut to zoo visitors a couple weeks ago. Since then, he has been introduced to Tufani, his aunt and Dave, his dad. Hasani remains curious and active, according to his care team.

Hasani's parents, Olivia and Dave, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Giraffes. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 111 Species Survival Plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the Giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of Giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable. 

See more photos of Hasani below.

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Baby Giraffe Goes Outside And Shows Off New Shoes

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A baby Giraffe born May 2 at Woodland Park Zoo reached three milestones in the past two weeks: he was given a name, got new shoes, and went outdoors for the first time.

The little Giraffe will be called Hasani, after his paternal grandfather. The name was chosen by zoo staff for this handsome calf who has already stolen hearts across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Then, on May 17, Hasani went outdoors for the first time to show off custom-made therapeutic shoes designed to correct a foot problem.

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2019_05_12 giraffe new shoes metal-3Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Immediately after female Giraffe Olivia gave birth to her calf, the zoo’s animal health team noticed that the baby’s rear feet were not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in Horses and has been reported to occur in Giraffes. One day after the Giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs. 

A week after the calf's birth, Woodland Park Zoo’s exhibits team constructed temporary therapeutic shoes for the baby Giraffe. Meanwhile, the zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications. He modified a design that he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition. The shoes will do the heavy lifting in the next phase of treatment of the baby’s rear leg abnormalities. Huge thanks to Dr. Scott Morrison and Manuel Cruz of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for their support and expertise with this shoe design. 

The new shoes are made of metal with a textured bottom for extra grip. An acrylic molding wraps around to secure the shoe to the hoof. “This whole-toe wrap binds the toes more snugly to stabilize the shoe and provide a stronger grip to the hoof,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo. The shoes are more water-resistant than the previously made wooden shoes. “This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development.” 

Kinesiology tape – often used by runners and athletes – helps to stimulate and support Hasani’s muscles and replaces the bandages that were put on his legs right after birth.

Hasani’s treatment may last several months. “While we are happy with Hasani’s response so far and these new shoes, he’s not out of the woods yet. His condition is still guarded and we’re keeping him under close observation. We’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally, and to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” adds Storms. 

Other than the abnormalities in his rear legs, Hasani remains in good health and is nursing and bonding with mom. He weighed 155 pounds at birth and now weighs 180 pounds, so he is growing and growing!

Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the Giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of Giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable. 




Vulnerable Humboldt Penguin Chick Duo Hatches

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Woodland Park Zoo’s breeding season for Humboldt Penguins has closed with the successful hatching of two chicks.

Incubation for penguins takes 40 to 42 days, with both parents sharing incubation duties in the nest and day-to-day care for their chicks.

The new chicks bring the total number of successful hatchings of the species at the zoo to 70 since the zoo’s first breeding season in 2010, a year after the penguin habitat opened. The sex of the chicks is unknown until DNA testing can be conducted.

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4_60358743_10157549803857708_8416709799219036160_nPhoto Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The chicks are off exhibit in nesting burrows where they are under the care of the parents. To ensure they are achieving growth milestones, staff weighs them as they develop with minimal intervention to allow the parents to raise their chicks and gain parental experience.

The first chick hatched April 5 to mom, Claudia, and dad, Cortez; it is the third offspring for the parents. The second chick hatched May 1 and was placed under the care of foster parents, Mateo and Mini; the biological parents were moved to an aquarium under a breeding recommendation made by the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of penguins.

Before new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they are removed from the nest so animal keepers can condition the birds to approach them for hand feeding and other animal care activities. The chicks also are given round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment. New chicks join the colony in the outdoor habitat sometime in early summer.

People do not usually think of penguins as a desert-dwelling species. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) inhabit hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile. They live on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands. Humboldt Penguins have a body made to swim. Using their strong wings, they “fly” underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.

Humboldt Penguins are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Approximately 30,000 to 35,000 survive in their natural range. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt Penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, Peru, breeding the birds through the Species Survival Plan, and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options as directed by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Punta San Juan is home to 5,000 Humboldt Penguins, the largest colony in Peru.

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Woodland Park Zoo’s Giraffe Calf Gets Custom Shoes

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Woodland Park Zoo’s male Giraffe calf has been outfitted with custom-made therapeutic shoes in the next phase of treatment for his rear leg abnormalities.

The calf was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Hours after his birth, the zoo’s animal health team radiographed his rear legs after noticing each rear foot was not in normal alignment.

“The condition is known as hyperextended fetlocks. It is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in Giraffes,” said Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo.

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One day after the Giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs.

After consultations of medical literature and colleagues at other zoos, the zoo’s exhibits team was called in to help. The talented team of exhibit artists specially crafted two-piece shoes made of high-density polyethylene and plywood with grooves for better adhesion to the foot and for better traction.

“At this stage, the new therapeutic shoes are on a trial basis, but I’m hopeful that they will help him walk better. We’ll continue refining and improving our approach to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” said Storms. “We’re so very grateful to our in-house exhibits team for jumping in to help our baby Giraffe. We’re very touched by their eagerness to lend their expertise to caring for this new life. It’s been all hands on deck for our baby.”

Treatment will most likely span over several months. “While our baby Giraffe is healthy and continues nursing and bonding with mom, he remains in guarded condition and under close observation. As we move forward with his treatment, we’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally,” added Storms.

During the veterinary procedure, the baby weighed in at 170.5 pounds, up from a birth weight of 155 pounds. Mom and her baby remain off view, in the barn, for an indefinite period to allow continued maternal bonding and nursing in a cozy, private setting.

The yet-unnamed baby was born to mom, Olivia, and dad, Dave. This is the first offspring between the 12-year-old mom and 6-year-old dad; Olivia had her first baby in 2013 at Woodland Park Zoo with a different mate.

The last Giraffe birth at Woodland Park Zoo was a female, Lulu, born in 2017 to mom, Tufani (Olivia’s younger sister) and dad, Dave. In addition to the baby, Olivia, Dave and Tufani make up the current herd of Giraffes at the zoo.

The parents, Olivia and Dave, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Giraffes.  

Viewers can see updates about the new calf by visiting www.zoo.org/giraffe and by following the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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River Otter Quad Reaches New Milestone

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Woodland Park Zoo’s quadruplet River Otter pups reached a milestone last week…the six-week-olds opened their eyes!

The North American River Otter pups (two females and two males) were born to mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy. They are the first offspring for their five-year-old parents, and, as far back as the zoo’s animal records go, they are the first River Otter births documented in the zoo’s 119-year history.

“River Otters typically open their eyes between 28 and 35 days, so they’re right on schedule,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “Mom continues to provide excellent care for her pups, and we’re seeing appropriate weight gains. As they get stronger, they’ll soon be walking. Right now they’re using their bellies to move about.”

Valkyrie and her pups continue to live off view in a private den, so the new family can nurse and bond. Animal care staff weighs the pups once a week to ensure continued weight gains and, as part of the zoo’s neonatal program, animal health staff will perform wellness exams every several weeks. The pups currently weigh between two and three pounds apiece.

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4_57592802_10157502614522708_2044411777290076160_oPhoto Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The ability to swim is something that otter pups do not possess when they’re born. “Otters are such graceful, agile swimmers but it doesn’t come naturally to them. They’re born helpless and blind, so pups need swimming lessons by their mom,” explained DeBo. “It’s dunkin’ otter time as the mom grabs the pups by the scruff of their necks and dunks them in and out of the water. It may look scary but the moms know what they’re doing and otter pups are very buoyant,” explained DeBo.

Once the pups demonstrate they can swim, Valkyrie and her pups will be given access to the public outdoor habitat, where the pups can learn to swim safely in the deep pool and navigate the terrain.

The father, Ziggy, is currently separated and can be seen in the Northern Trail habitat with the zoo’s other river otter, a 21-year-old male named Duncan.

Valkyrie and Ziggy were introduced to each other in 2015 under a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Otter Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos and aquariums to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of otters.

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First Recorded River Otter Birth in Zoo’s History

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Woodland Park Zoo is excited to announce that a North American River Otter gave birth to four pups on March 16. The pups are the first offspring for mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy (both 5-years-old).

As far back as the Zoo’s animal records go, the pups are the first River Otter birth documented in the Zoo’s 119-year history!

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Woodland Park’s animal health team was able to do a wellness check on the pups and confirmed there are two females and two males. The pups weigh between 10 and 12 ounces each.

The gestation period for River Otters is 68 to 72 days. Pups are born blind and completely helpless, relying solely on mom for care during their first year. They open their eyes at about a month old.

Over the next several weeks, Valkyrie and her pups will remain in an off-view, climate-controlled den where the new family can nurse and bond in a quiet environment.

Animal care staff are closely monitoring the new family via a den cam. “The first year is crucial for otter pups. Because Valkyrie is a first-time mother, we want to be sure she’s providing appropriate care for each pup,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “We’re happy to report each pup has a fully belly, a good sign they’re nursing. She’s being a good mom and providing attentive maternal care.”

The father, Ziggy, is currently separated and can be seen in the Northern Trail exhibit with the Zoo’s other River Otter, a 21-year-old male named Duncan.

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Tree-Kangaroo Joey Journeys From Mom’s Pouch

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The new little Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo joey, at Woodland Park Zoo, is now venturing out of his mother’s pouch!

The little male, named Ecki, will soon leave the pouch permanently as he gradually grows more confident and independent.

“Ecki” is named after a beloved elder from one of the remote Papua New Guinea villages that works with Woodland Park Zoo to help protect Tree Kangaroos and their habitat. The joey and his mother, 11-year-old Elanna, currently live behind the scenes in an off-view habitat at the zoo.

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While Ecki is just now being introduced to the world, he was actually born eight months ago. When joeys are born, they’re only the size of a jellybean! Within just one to two minutes of birth, that tiny baby has to crawl from the birth canal, through the mother’s fur, and into the pouch to immediately begin nursing. That’s exactly what Ecki did, and he’s been tucked away in his mom Elanna’s pouch.

But while Ecki may have been hidden from view, the zoo’s dedicated animal care staff constantly monitored him and his mother to make sure that both were healthy and meeting expected milestones. One way they were able to do that is through routine “pouch checks,” where keepers looked inside Elanna’s pouch to check on the joey.

“Training Elanna to cooperate with pouch checks required a solid foundation of trust between Elanna and her keepers. Using positive reinforcement, our keepers trained Elanna to come down to a platform when asked, place her front feet onto a white tube, and extend the time holding still in this position. At the same time, keepers slowly desensitized Elanna to gently touching and opening her pouch until they were able to see inside it,” said Animal Care Manager Rachel Salant.

Finally, keepers spent some time slowly introducing cameras and cell phones near Elanna so that she would be comfortable with having the devices around to record video of her pouch.

As part of all of the zoo’s animal training sessions, Elanna had the choice to leave any session at any time, so any video recorded was because Elanna fully allowed it. The result is a rare, up-close look at a Tree Kangaroo joey in his early stages of life, and it’s incredible to watch.

In the coming months, Ecki will become fully weaned from his mother, and eventually grow independent. In the meantime, animal care staff will continue to observe Ecki and Elanna to make sure both are happy, healthy and thriving.

Woodland Park Zoo is home to the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program that is working to protect the endangered 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.

Woodland Park Zoo invites the public to consider supporting the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program here: https://www.zoo.org/tkcp/donate


Playtime with Pumpkins at Woodland Park Zoo

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Woodland Park Zoo’s twin Red Pandas are four-months-old, and they are now exploring their outdoor backyard. With Halloween around the corner, the cubs were also treated to their first playtime with pumpkins!

The sisters, named Zeya (ZAY-uh) and Ila (EE-la), were born June 19 to mom, Hazel, and dad, Yukiko. They represent the first successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo in 29 years.

Zeya and Ila, who currently weigh 7 pounds each, have been living with mom off public view in an indoor, climate-controlled space, where the first-time mom can nurse and bond 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 and quick wellness checks as part of the zoo’s exemplary animal welfare program.

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Recently, Hazel and her cubs have been given daily access to their outdoor yard in the mornings so the cubs can begin to climb trees, lie in their elevated hammock and enjoy the beautiful Seattle fall weather.

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel, Zeya and Ila in the outdoor public exhibit by mid-November/early December. Guests to the zoo can see the zoo’s other Red Panda, a four-year-old male, named Carson, in the Wildlife Survival Zone.

“This is very exciting to see our cubs graduate to the next stage of their development in their outdoor yard,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “While they sometimes decide to sleep in, they are usually exploring their yard by mid-morning. They have demonstrated great motor skills and agility so far, always under the watchful eyes of Hazel.”

Hazel and Yukiko were paired under the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Red Pandas.

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 supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal. You can help support the project by adopting a Red Panda through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.

Fall/winter zoo hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through April 30. For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org or call 206.548.2500.

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