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Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Apr 20, 2021

If Dr. Karen Wolf needs another skilled set of hands for a walrus procedure, she knows who to call. And if Dr. Allison Case has a beaver or owl that needs attention while she’s out of town, she has a second clinic just a van-trip away. The two women are head veterinarians of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, respectively – and these sister zoos have veterinary teams with a long tradition of helping each other. “People don’t realize there’s this crossover,” explains Dr. Wolf of the unique veterinary partnership. “I have absolute confidence that if …

Feb 18, 2021

No, they don’t belong in a witches’ brew. Nor are they conclusive proof of nearby magic. But they do have superpowers of killing and healing, plus the ability to charm humans at a single, big-eyed glance. For a creature just four inches long, rough-skinned newts have a lot of personality – and Ricotta and Gnocchi are no exception. Recently arrived at the Cheney Discovery Center (currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions), the two little newts aren’t related, though they live in the same fern-filled habitat and occasionally climb over each other. They also like interacting with humans, drinking in the …

Feb 18, 2021

As the daylight returns in February, do you get the urge to start cleaning out the cobwebs, tossing the junk and scrubbing the house? Emily Santiago does – but it’s a rather unusual kind of housekeeping. Because the lead naturalist at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park has spent hours this winter sprucing up the parks’ Mason bee “hotel”, a process of cleaning tunnels, sorting cocoons and removing predators that ensures our native pollinator bees have the best chance of a healthy, productive spring. “We’ve done this every year since we got our Mason bees,” says Santiago, as she sets up her …

Feb 02, 2021

For most of us, throwing up isn’t a good thing. Happening repeatedly, it’s a sign you should probably investigate – which was the case for Tahoma, a bobcat that arrived last year at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Otherwise in good health, he’d been regurgitating a bit more frequently than is usual in big cats, and so head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case – not seeing anything on her x-rays – had scheduled a gastroscopy for him with the park’s partner Summit Veterinary Referral Center to see if anything deeper was wrong. “So he’s been vomiting?” asked veterinary endoscopy specialist Dr. Kelly …

Jan 22, 2021

In front of a forest screen background, Jessica Moore tells a story of a walk in the woods. But it’s not just a walk. One by one, the Northwest Trek education curator pulls up “clues” she found on her walk: a feather, some quills, a photo of a pawprint etched with claws. “Okay,” she says briskly, smiling into the camera. “Who’s ready to be a Northwest wildlife investigator?” On her own laptop screen, young faces smile back and raise eager hands. It’s time for Online Wildlife Academy, the park’s new virtual nature science program that’s offering a lifeline to beleaguered …

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 …