The Woodland Park Zoo is home to a remarkable range of animals from all corners of the world. When we, the SCA interns plus Jimi and Leila, visited on Tuesday we were able to see most of the animals. As we entered the zoo we were handed tokens which were used to show support for research and conservation projects funded by the zoo. I placed my token in the box supporting northwest carnivore research since that is a local project. The zoo funds these projects from a percent of the admission fee, no matter the percent support shown by the public. Another admission related fact: if you take public transit to the zoo and show your transfer or ORCA card then you are eligible to receive two dollars off admission.
We spent the entire day at the zoo exploring all the exhibits. The animals, according to Leila who volunteers at the zoo, were particularly active when we were there. My favorite area of the zoo is the Northwest Trail although most of the animals that live there can be seen by hiking in the area. The white wolves were a highlight and they prompted many references to Jon Snow and Ghost (a white wolf from Game of Thrones).
Since we visited with Leila, she was able to tell us lots of interesting facts about the various animals and the zoo in general. I love biology so it was a perfect opportunity to l
earn some more. Fun facts: cheetahs are the only felines that don’t have retractable claws, flamingos have to eat brine to remain pink, and there is one ostrich that can be very mean. The orangutans were very fun to watch; one clambered up a tree while holding a cardboard sheet over its head the entire time to protect itself from the rain.
Although we typically think of zoos as places for younger children, in reality they are perfect for all ages. The Woodland Park Zoo offers opportunities to view and learn about animals and efforts being made to conserve their habitats. At times I have my doubts about the ethics of caging animals in relatively confined exhibits but the Woodland Park Zoo disproves my assumptions. Many animals are almost extinct in the wild due to hunting or habitat loss so being in a zoo is actually safer. Also, animals are provided exhibits that are similar to their natural habitats including stimulation that keeps them from being bored. All in all, the Woodland Park Zoo, as we learned, is a leader in zoo design and ethics making it an enjoyable place for both visitors and animals.
The Woodland Park Zoo offers programs for all ages, but their opportunities for youth are particularly rich. There are a variety of changing summer programs that cover topics including natural history and anatomy. Since the times of these programs change you can find current information on the zoo’s website here.
ZooCorps: Teens 14+ and in 9th or 10th grade can apply to participate in the ZooCorps volunteer program. As the zoo’s description states, youth are provided “a unique opportunity to develop useful job/public speaking skills, increase their knowledge of animals and their habitats, and to expand their conservation awareness, in a collaborative and fun learning environment at the Zoo and beyond.” If you are interested in an in-depth internship-like program at the zoo you can learn more at http://www.zoo.org/page.aspx?pid=1976#.U9KfkfldXT9.
Getting There by Bus (you get a zoo discount for using public transit):
Klondike Gold Rush NHP: 5
West Seattle: 21
Capitol Hill: 47 or 49 to 5
Columbia City: 7 or 9 to 218 or 550
Bellevue: 210 or 212 or 554 to 5
Bus Fare: Anything from $1.25 to $2.50
Zoo Admission: Under 13 – $11.75, 13 and above – $18.75
– Sarah, SCA intern