A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Rhinos coming to Woodland Park Zoo next year for the first time ever

October 16th, 2017 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo will get its first-ever rhinos next spring. The temporary Assam Rhino Reserve will be designed to spotlight wildlife trafficking and the turtle extinction crisis. It will house Greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian brown tortoises, and demoiselle cranes.

Photo by Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo.

Five species of rhinos survive today: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan. In the last 200 years, the rhino population has plummeted from one million to fewer than 30,000 worldwide.

Also known as the Indian rhino, the greater one-horned is second in size only to the white rhino, weighing 4,000 to 6,000 pounds. It has a single horn that is about 8 to 25 inches long; a gray-brown hide with skin folds gives it an armor-plated appearance. Once found across the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent, the population plummeted due to sport hunting, human conflict, poaching for their horns for use in traditional medicine and habitat loss. Because of conservation efforts by government and NGOs working together, World Wildlife Fund said the population has increased from as few as 350 animals just a few decades ago to more than 3,500 by 2015 in the Terai Arc Landscape of India and Nepal, and the grasslands of Assam and north Bengal in northeast India.

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Community votes to name Woodland Park Zoo’s new snow leopard cub

August 29th, 2017 by Doree

Nearly 2,500 people voted to name Woodland Park Zoo’s new snow leopard cub Aibeck (eye–beck), which means “will live for many moons” in Kyrgyzstani.

Photo courtesy Woodland Park Zoo.

Aibeck is 7 weeks old and is the first offspring between mom Helen and dad Dhirin (Did-in), who are both 12 years old. Helen and Aibek remain in an off-view maternity den, but Aibeck is expected to move to their on-view exhibit in late September.

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Zoo’s baby giraffe named Lulu

July 21st, 2017 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s new baby giraffe has been named Lulu, which means “pearl” in Swahili.

Lulu was born last month to mother Tufani and father Dave. She was 5 foot 9 inches at birth and is already 7 feet tall.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

She was named by Al Buckingham, who won the opportunity by making a donation at the zoo’s Jungle Party fundraiser, which raised more than $1.5 million total (the zoo did not specify the amount of Buckingham’s donation).

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Woodland Park Zoo giraffe gives birth

June 20th, 2017 by Doree

Update Wednesday: Today’s exam shows the calf is a girl, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 149 pounds. You can see pictures and video of the giraffe on the zoo’s blog.

Earlier: Early this morning, Woodland Park Zoo’s 8-year-old giraffe, Tufani, gave birth. The calf’s gender has not yet been determined. It will be examined for the first time tomorrow to identify gender, height and weight.

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

Mom and baby are currently off view in the barn to allow for nursing and bonding. After 72 hours, staff will turn on the giraffe cam. The calf is expected to start following its mom to the outside enclosure within a week or two.

The calf will be named later this summer.

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Zoo announces three concerts for this summer’s ZooTunes

March 14th, 2017 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo has announced three of its ZooTunes concerts this summer. Seu Jorge presents The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie on June 20; Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo with Rick Springfield play Aug. 15; and St. Paul & The Broken Bones and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue perform Aug. 20.

More concerts will be announced soon.

Tickets are available online beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, and also at zoo gates during zoo hours. Zoo members can access the ZooTunes presale beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday. (Members will receive an exclusive pre-sale code by email.)

Doors will open a half hour earlier this year than usual – at 4:30 p.m. – to allow for every bag to be checked by security. Concerts begin at 6 p.m. and are rain or shine (no refunds or exchanges).

One child age 12 or under is admitted free with each paid ticket (child vouchers are required and can be printed online with purchased tickets or picked up at purchase locations.) Concert-goers may purchase up to eight general admission tickets per show.

A limited number of reserved seat tickets are available for each show, with premium seating (chair provided) and special parking. Upgrades must be purchased online. Children 12 and under require a separately purchased reserved ticket to access the reserved area.

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Woodland Park Zoo giraffe expecting first baby

February 14th, 2017 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s 8-year-old giraffe, Tufani, is expecting her first baby sometime mid-May to early July.

The giraffe gestation period ranges from 14-15 months. The father is 4-year-old Dave, who arrived at the zoo in June 2014.

Woodland Park Zoo giraffes Misawa, Tufani and Olivia. Photo by Dennis Dow, WPZ.

You can learn more about Tufani (too-fawn-ee) and Dave on the zoo’s blog.

To confirm Tufani’s pregnancy, animal care staff collected her fecal samples every other day for one month in the fall, when she was in her second trimester, and then sent the samples to a lab for testing. While the lab test confirmed Tufani’s pregnancy, the zoo’s animal care staff advises that animal pregnancies cannot be 100 percent confirmed until the baby is born. “Due to the long gestation period, signs of pregnancy can be difficult to detect early on,” said Katie Ahl, zookeeper at Woodland Park Zoo. “For those of us who work with Tufani on a daily basis we can see how her physical appearance has changed. That combined with the lab results make us confident she is pregnant.”

Though Tufani will not have a visible bump until closer to her birth window, animal care staff note her belly has started to round out. “If you know what you’re looking for, you can see it,” said Ahl. “She’s now in her third trimester so she’s really starting to show; and she’ll only get bigger from here.”

Tufani’s baby would mark the second viable giraffe birth at Woodland Park Zoo since 1997, the first being Misawa who was born in August 2013. Misawa, famously known as the “grumpy face” giraffe, captured the hearts of zoo visitors as they watched him grow from a 6-foot-tall curious calf into a 12-foot-tall loving, adventurous adult. In September 2015, Misawa moved to Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas to begin his own family. His father Chioke passed away before he was born but his mother Olivia still resides at Woodland Park Zoo; she is Tufani’s older sister.

Tufani will remain on exhibit at African Savanna with Dave and Olivia until she has the baby. Starting May 1, visitors can visit Tufani, Dave and Olivia at the up close giraffe experience (hours to be determined, visit www.zoo.org for more information).

Giraffes give birth while standing, and the calf drops 5 feet from the ground as it is born. About 6 foot tall at birth, infants usually stand within half an hour after birth and can run around with their moms several hours later.

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Update to Woodland Park Zoo fire: It’s likely 6 hibernating turtles died

December 16th, 2016 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo has announced that yesterday’s fire in the Night Exhibit building likely killed six hibernating turtles. While the building has been closed since 2010 due to funding issues and most of the animals moved to other exhibits and institutions, turtles hibernating in the winter were placed in a special room of the building’s basement.


SFD and our animal care staff worked together to evacuate over 200 animals from the adjacent Day Exhibit. Additional staff from all over the zoo helped by gathering transport crates, and bringing blankets for animals and warm jackets for staff standing outside. Evacuated animals were swiftly transported into vehicles and transferred to warm, safe locations around the zoo.

Rescued animals include reptiles, amphibians and a tree kangaroo. Our Animal Health team performed health assessments last night, and are continuing throughout the day today.

While the Night Exhibit has been closed to the public for nearly seven years and has no longer housed animals, a special room in the basement was used for turtles hibernating in the winter. Sadly, it is highly likely that six turtles hibernating in this room have perished in the fire.

Seattle Fire Department released a statement today saying two firefighters were injured, one with minor burns, the other from possible contact with an electrical panel. Both were treated and released from Harborview Medical Center.

Damage was estimated at $1.5 million dollars, but the cause of the fire could not be determined, “due to structural instability and partial collapse.”

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BREAKING: Fire in empty nocturnal exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo

December 15th, 2016 by Doree

Update 7 p.m.: The zoo plans to reopen at 11 a.m. Friday, and will present WildLights Friday evening as usual.

Update 5:30 p.m.: The fire has been contained.

Update 4:45 p.m.: Woodland Park Zoo has canceled tonight’s WildLights because of the fire. One person was transported to Harborview Medical Center with minor burns. Animals in the nearby Day Exhibit building were being moved as a precaution.

Earlier: Seattle Fire Department is battling a fire in the Night Exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo. That building was closed in 2010, so no animals were hurt.

Zoo Spokesperson Gigi Allianic told me they don’t yet know how the fire started. The zoo was evacuated after the fire started about 3:10 p.m. The zoo was already scheduled to close at 4 p.m., its winter closing time.

You can see raw video from KING 5 here. KIRO 7 has some closeup video of the flames.

We will update this post as we know more.

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Woodland Park Zoo WildLights is Nov. 25 through Jan. 1

November 18th, 2016 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s 5th annual WildLights holiday event begins the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, and runs through Jan. 1, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. daily, except Dec. 24-25.

More than 600,000 lights transform indoor and outdoor exhibits. Plus there’s real reindeer, fake snowball fights inside “Snowmazium” (Zoomazium), photos with Santa for an additional fee, traditional carolers, a peacock scavenger hunt, and the Historical Carousel with be open for rides for an additional fee.


The southwest corner of the Rain Forest Food Pavilion will be the Winter Warm Up area and is open every night to guests of all ages. Food and beverages will be available for purchase, including mini donuts, apple fritters, chowder, chili, pizza, hot cider, hot cocoa, coffee, espresso, hot tea, soda and water; plus beer, spiked hot cider, wine and mulled wine for adults 21 and older.

New this year is a special Pokémon Go Night on Nov. 30, where Snowmazium becomes a Pokemon Gym, the Rain Forest Food Pavilion becomes Trainer Headquarters, and lots of Pokemon lures will be dropped around zoo grounds.

And on Dec. 12 it’s Seahawks Night, where you can meet and get a photo with team mascot Blitz and go on a Seahawks Scavenger Hunt.

Santa will be there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, plus Dec. 19 and 23.

Tickets are available in advance online or at zoo gates during regular zoo hours. Night-of-event tickets will be sold at the zoo’s West Entrance, if not sold out. WildLights is rain or shine, no ticket refunds. Adults (age 13+), $9.95; children 3-12, $7.95; toddlers 2 and under are free. Zoo members get $2 off adult tickets purchased through Dec. 9.

Enter through the zoo’s West Entrance on Phinney Avenue North between North 55th and 56th streets. Free parking is available in the Penguin, Otter and Bear parking lots. The Hippo and Flamingo lots will open as needed.

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