Ballard High School graduate and member of Woodland Park Zoo Corps Garrett Brenden got to experience the full cycle of a critical species recovery project as he helped Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the zoo release 19 western pond turtles back to the wild July 29 at a wildlife refuge site in Pierce County.

“This release gives us hope and aspiration that the native population of pond turtles can be restored to its natural range throughout the state if conservation projects like this continue to nurture and grow the turtles to give them a head start over invasive species and predators,” Brenden, who graduated this year from Ballard High School, said in a Woodland Park Zoo press release.

In addition to the 19 turtles released in Pierce County, 57 were released on the Kitsap Peninsula and 13 in the Columbia River Gorge.

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Photo credit: 
Rachel Gray/Woodland Park Zoo

Ballard High School graduate Garrett Brenden, a Zoo Corp teen with Woodland Park Zoo, releases a western pond turtles back into the wild July 29.

The Woodland Park Zoo is inviting Ballardites to celebrate one of the world’s most endangered and elusive wild animals at the fourth annual Snow Leopard Day.

Hosted by the zoo and its conservation partner, the Snow Leopard Trust, this full day of activities highlights the adaptations of the snow leopard and critical conservation efforts to protect them in the wild.

Activities include:

  • Keeper talks and special enrichment for the snow leopards
  • Conservation talks by Snow Leopard Trust
  • Snow leopard-inspired crafts for kids
  • Special themed programs for kids in Zoomazium
  • Conservation commerce made by artisans to help support snow leopard conservation
  • Live entertainment, facepainting and more

Woodland Park Zoo is home to five snow leopards, including cubs Gobi and Batu born May 2009, marking an important conservation milestone by helping to bolster the genetic diversity of this endangered species.

Photo credit: 
Tianna Klineburger/Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo is celebrating snow leopards, including the five currently at the zoo, during the fourth annual Snow Leopard Day Aug. 14.

Ferocious bidding on auction items, up-close animal encounters, dining al fresco, and live entertainment all contributed to a roaring success of raising $1.7 million at Woodland Park Zoo’s Jungle Party. The premier fundraiser held July 9 exceeded its goal by $300,000.

The 34th annual Jungle Party was themed “Big Claws, Big Cause” to commemorate the zoo's felines, such as snow leopards, jaguars and Sumatran tigers.

Nearly 1,000 civic-minded patrons converged on the zoo’s North Meadow to raise funds that will help the zoo continue to provide exemplary animal care, offer engaging education programs and partner with conservation projects around the world and locally, according to a Woodland Park Zoo press release.

A record-breaking $832,000 was raised among the $1.7 million for this year’s Fund-Our Future: Animal Care.

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Photo credit: 
Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Guests enjoy outdoor dining and entertainment at the 34th annual Jungle Party, which raised $1.7 million for the Woodland Park Zoo July 9.

Five Humboldt penguin chicks have joined the adult colony in Woodland Park Zoo’s penguin exhibit. The chicks hatched between April 1 and April 25, but were kept from public viewing until now.

The chicks are the result of the first breeding and nesting season for the colony of 18 Humboldt penguins since the exhibit opened a year ago. The new families are first-time parents P.J. and Dora with two chicks; Quanto and Gonzo with a pair; and Diego and Radar, the parents of a single chick.

Penguin fans can connect with the zoo online to help name Diego and Radar’s chick, a male, which hatched on April 25. Fans can submit name suggestions for the chick to the wall of the zoo’s Facebook page beginning July 7 through noon July 8.

To honor the Humboldt penguin’s Chilean and Peruvian native range, fans are encouraged to submit Spanish-language names. Penguin keepers will select their three favorite names from the submissions, and fans will then vote on July 9 on the zoo’s Facebook page for their top pick.

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Photo credit: 
Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Five Humboldt penguin chicks, such as this male born April 25, are now able to be viewed at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Ed. Note: Jerry Robinson is the publisher of the Ballard News-Tribune, as well as the Highline Times, West Seattle Herald, and

When we had to replace our flagpole, I tried to order a new one topped with a shiny brass eagle, but they were all out. So, I had to settle  for a brass ball.

The brass ball turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed a live bald eagle to land on it as I was taking this picture.

Ballard Big Picture is a column of scenes from around the neighborhood. If you would like to submit a photo for use on this site and in the Ballard News-Tribune, please send it to Michael Harthorne at Be sure to include your name and information about your photo.

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Photo credit: 
Jerry Robinson

A live bald eagle lands on Ballard News-Tribune publisher Jerry Robinson's flagpole.

By Bethany Overland

Mealworms and watermelon rinds may not come to mind as preferred Fourth of July picnic fare. But they’re a feast for the Woodland Park Zoo’s newest African dignitaries, a meerkat family of eight.

Hundreds gathered to watch the meerkats gorge themselves July 1 as the zoo kicked off its two-day Red, White and Zoo celebration. The meerkat mob showed off its new digs, and the zoo revealed the critters' brand-new names.

In a community vote sponsored by U.S. Bank and the Seattle Times, more than 2,600 voters decided on the final eight names: Zimba, Nata, Molopo, Kiwano, Kalahari, Dinawa, Acacia and Ngami.

The names remain to be assigned to each meerkat. Anne Nichols, lead keeper for the creatures, said she plans to let the naming process come naturally.

“We’re starting to figure out which names go with each of their individual personalities,” said Nichols. “They really do have personalities—like the alpha female, she’s very assertive. And, there’s another male who is incredibly exploratory. He’s our sentry, the lookout.”

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See video
Photo credit: 
Bethany Overland

Woodland Park Zoo's mob of meerkats line up for a mealworm treat during the zoo's Red, White and Zoo celebration July 1.

Two Seattleites represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle June 29 to stop what they see as the city’s unlawful use of taxpayer dollars to support the Woodland Park Zoo’s reckless and illegally cruel treatment of its elephants.

Plaintiffs Mary Sebek and Nancy Farnam brought their concerns about what they characterize as misuse of city funds to support illegal conduct at the zoo to the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund, whose attorneys are representing them, according to an Animal Legal Defense Fund press release.

“As a taxpayer, I feel obliged to take a stand to make sure that the city of Seattle stops funding animal cruelty,” Sebek said in the press release.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as a result of inadequate facilities, abusive management practices, longstanding intentional neglect, and breeding practices in callous disregard for elephants’ welfare, the zoo’s elephants, Bamboo, Watoto and Chai suffer from severe and chronic foot and joint injuries, unexplained physical trauma and bleeding, and sustained psychological harm, according to the press release.

Photo credit: 
Steve Shay

Two of the Woodland Park Zoo's three elephants in their exhibit. A lawsuit was filed against the city June 29 to secure the elephants' release.

Three Chilean flamingo chicks recently made their first public appearance at the Woodland Park Zoo. Hatched last August and September, the chicks marked the first successful hatching of this species in the zoo’s 110-year history.

In another chick sighting, a 1-month-old red-crowned crane is under the watchful care of its 18-year-old parents, which have contributed more than a dozen successful hatchings of this critically endangered species to zoos around the country.

Red-crowned cranes are renowned for their spectacular and elaborate courtship dances and are known as important symbols of long life, peace, happiness and fidelity for many Asian cultures.

After a 10-year absence from Woodland Park Zoo, hooded cranes have returned. The new male and female are designated to breed under the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Population Management Plan to help sustain a healthy and genetically diverse population of the species.

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Photo credit: 
Hannah Letinich/Woodland Park Zoo

A red-crowned crane chick represents another successful hatching of the endangered species at Woodland Park Zoo.

Effective Saturday, June 12, the animals for adoption at the King County Crossroads animal shelter will be transferred to the county Kent shelter location and the Crossroads location will close to the public.

The county is changing its animal control services beginning July 1. SeaTac and Tukwila have expressed interest in continuing to receive services from the county, at least for the next two years.

Burien has opted out and will make alternative arrangements for animal patrolling, sheltering and licensing.
Des Moines and Normandy Park already share an animal control officer.
County staffers say the shelter consolidation will allow for more efficient staffing at the Kent shelter location, improved care for animals, and save the county utility and lease costs.

The Crossroads location will remain a non-public base of operations for Animal Control Officers assigned to East or North King County, and may occasionally be used to support adoption events and foster care programs.
The Crossroads shelter is the smaller of two county-run animal services locations. On average, it can hold just over a dozen adoptable animals.


Furry Faces Foundation is holding our 10th annual June plant sale--in West Seattle—rain or shine. 1,000+ healthy, nursery quality plants, reasonable prices, beautifully suited for Pacific NW grdns: Unusual Tomato Varieties & other organic vegies; Lychnis; Catmint; Phlox; Ornamental Grasses; Coleus varieties to brighten your garden; Geraniums; Sedums; Dianthus; Impatiens; Campanula; Calla Lily; Lavender; and more.

Have room in your heart and home for a furry face or two? Both Animals First Foundation and King County Animal Care and Control will be on site, on Sunday, with loving dogs and cats, looking to adoption a human. On Saturday, three, wonderful adult cats will be struttin’ on their cat walks, looking for some attention. The two boys, Frosty Mogul and Snowpack are a bonded pair, and Daphne is looking to be the only cat in her new home, plus would enjoy a dog companion or two.

All plant sale proceeds support our two programs--Oliver’s Fund and It’s Hip To Be Snipped, which assist animals whose humans are financially restricted or going through tough times. More info? Email or or check out our facebook page.

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