Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s gorilla mom has given birth to her second baby

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.

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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.”

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Baby Leeches Hatched at Woodland Park Zoo

 

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.
 
Lovely 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.

Meet Keweng The Tree Kangaroo Joey

 

Keweng is a very special tree kangaroo. Animal keeper Amanda gives us the scoop on the 8-month-old joey and her mom Elanna. This adorable little joey is under the watchful eyes of our animal care team, but mom Elanna is doing great and the joey is thriving.

This sweet female Matschie’s tree kangaroo, born to mom Elanna and dad Rocket in January, is named after a village in the YUS Conservation Area (YUS) in Papua New Guinea. YUS is home to Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, and Keweng is one of the main villages in YUS.

On Giving Day, consider joining the Caring for Animals initiative: http://bit.ly/givingdaycaring

Woodland Park Zoo manages the largest number of live animals in Washington state. Each of the nearly 1,000 animals who call Woodland Park Zoo home receive exceptional care from our expert staff. Every day, keepers, veterinary staff, behavioral experts, and welfare specialists carry out science-based wellness plans that cater to the unique nutritional, health, environmental and social needs of 250 species across every stage of life: http://bit.ly/givingdaycaring


Woodland Park Zoo’s Adorable 7-month-old Joey Just Got Her Name!

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World, meet Keweng (kay-wing), or “Kay” as she is affectionately nicknamed for short! This sweet female Matschie’s tree kangaroo, born to mom Elanna and dad Rocket in January, is named after a village in the YUS Conservation Area (YUS) in Papua New Guinea. YUS is home to Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, and Keweng is one of the main villages in YUS.  

“Keweng is the home of Mambawe Manauno, the first landowner and former tree kangaroo hunter, who showed me tree kangaroos for the very first time in 1996,” explained TKCP founder and Director Lisa Dabek, PhD (also WPZ’s Senior Conservation Scientist). “Manauno was also the 2003 recipient of the Woodland Park Zoo Conservation Award. It’s so great to be able to pay tribute to his work with the naming of this special joey.” 

Day by day, little Keweng is becoming more familiar with the world around her. She was first spotted poking her head out of Elanna’s pouch in June, and since then, animal keepers have seen her climbing completely out of the pouch for quick bursts of exploration.  

“Keweng is doing great,” said animal keeper Amanda Dukart. “Elanna is doing a great job and is very attentive, and it looks like Keweng is going to be zesty just like her mother!” 

In a few months, Keweng will leave her mother’s pouch for the last time and learn to be entirely independent while “at foot” by her mom’s side. Joeys stay with their moms for about 18 months. For now, she enjoys her time close to mom, nibbling on greens and browse that Elanna is eating.

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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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4_2019_05_02 baby giraffe-2Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

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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