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.
Woodland Park Zoo
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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/