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Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Jan 14, 2021

What a windstorm! Tuesday night’s strong gusts hit Northwest Trek hard. Fallen trees and branches covered nearly every road and pathway in the park and fences had to be rebuilt. But, with great team effort and the help of a few leaf blowers, the park will open just in time for the 3-day weekend ahead (it even has dry weather in the forecast!). It was all hands on deck this week, as employees from each department surveyed the forested paths, picking up branches while maintenance staff worked tirelessly to clear trees. “Thank you all for pitching in so we can …

Dec 30, 2020

Everyone agrees: 2020 was a really tough year. Covid-19 turned our world upside down, and many of us knew loss. Our Zoo/Northwest Trek had to close for months, and reopen with completely new ways of doing everything. Like so many, we lost money, and had to say goodbye to many staff members. We lost beloved animals to old age and illness. But to counter these very real sorrows, we had many joys, like connecting people safely with each other, animals and nature. Welcoming new animals into the world. Healing others from sickness. Winning Association of Zoos & Aquariums awards for …

Dec 30, 2020

What a year this has been! From closing to opening, new Wild Drive to baby animals, we’ve had plenty of ups and downs. Here’s 2020, seen in our best photos.

Dec 15, 2020

Long, powerful body. Tawny, velvety fur. Dagger-sharp canines and claws. And a passionate human care team. Carly the cougar lay stretched out and anesthetized in the Northwest Trek veterinary clinic – and around her dedicated veterinarians, keepers and veterinary technician worked tirelessly to weigh, examine, scan and (especially) get blood samples. It was cougar exam time. Giving Blood “And – up!” called curator Marc Heinzman. Leaning into the van that had brought Carly up from her forested habitat, Heinzman – plus Northwest Trek veterinarian Dr. Allison Case, veterinary technician Tracy Cramer and two keepers – lifted the sleeping cougar. Enfolded …

Dec 15, 2020

To most of us, a cold bubble bath outside at 8 a.m. doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But add some yummy raw chicken treats and an encouraging caregiver, and Rainier the wolverine was ready and willing. But this wasn’t just a fun spa day. The bath was part of a months-long training to let the furry wolverine help his human team at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park care for his itchy skin. “Hi, boy!” called keeper Wendi Mello, as she walked up to the undercover “bedrooms” where the wolverines spent each night. Rainer instantly ran up to the mesh, face curious and …

Dec 08, 2020

Keeper Dave Meadows stood 30 feet from a massive bull bison. Fully-grown, the bull weighed around 2,500 pounds – just a bit less than a Mini Cooper – and stood solidly on the rutted track in Northwest Trek’s Free-Roaming Area. His breath steamed against his thick, shaggy fur. Then he opened his mouth, tongue lolling, and gave a long, growling bellow. “Come on! Heeeeere, boy,” called Meadows, and rattled a bucket of feed. The bison bull stared for a long moment. Then he lowered his 200-pound head and ambled toward Meadows. Swiftly, the keeper stowed the feed bucket back in …

Dec 02, 2020

Baby animals are lovely – but for animals in human care, they need careful planning. At Northwest Trek this November, that was the case for Nuka, a female Canada lynx who headed into the veterinary clinic one bright fall morning to get her contraceptive implant replaced. A fairly simple procedure, but one that came with a scientific backstory – and an opportunity for Nuka’s human team to care for her in a host of other ways as well. “Okay, she’s looking great,” commented Dr. Allison Case, the wildlife park’s veterinarian, as Nuka was connected to a brand new portable anesthesia …

Nov 30, 2020

The bright side of a virtual field trip? You don’t get wet. It was raining hard at Northwest Trek one November morning as Wildlife Champions instructor Megan Soland peered into a video camera. Fellow instructor Liz Hines held an umbrella over her, getting soaked herself, and in front was keeper Wendi Mello, dripping wet but smiling cheerfully. “So you can see Rainier and Ahma behind me, our two wonderful wolverines here at Northwest Trek,” Mello began. She tossed a meatball, and Ahma gobbled it up. Rainier scurried over a log, cream stripe wiggling on his thick black fur. “They’re incredibly …

Nov 18, 2020

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s the Pacific Northwest in winter – and that includes Northwest Trek. But there’s also a certain magic out here in winter: hushed silence, frosted ferns, thick bison coats. Don’t wait until spring. Here are seven reasons to visit Northwest Trek in the most magical season of the year – winter. 1. Peace and Quiet Feeling that cabin fever yet? Step onto our paved trails and experience nature at its most hushed. Tall, solemn trees; quiet meadows; a lake so still it reflects the mist. Come spend the day in the kind of peace that refreshes …

Oct 22, 2020

Inflammatory bowel disease is no fun. Diarrhea, vomiting, unpleasant gut sensations, even pain or fever. But if you’re an American red wolf, there are worse implications: That inflammation in your intestines might cause you to lose weight, get stressed and maybe even fail to reproduce. For an endangered species with less than 300 like you left on the planet, that’s a big worry. That’s exactly why Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium veterinarians have been investigating IBD in red wolves. Head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf first discovered that red wolves do, in fact, develop the disease, just like people and pets. …