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Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Jul 05, 2021

At Northwest Trek, fall is a magical time. A palette of bronze sweeps the hillsides. Golden light streams through the trees. Dust rises from bison, rolling and sparring. And through the forest comes an eerie, haunting whistle – the sound of elk bugling. The rut – mating season – runs September-October. Out in the Free Roaming Area, male elk, bison and bighorn sheep vie for dominance and select their mates. The perfect way to experience this magic up close? An Elk Bugling Tour. This year, we get you off-road and up to the action in the keeper Jeep, with just …

Jul 02, 2021

“The reason I love it here is because we care for native wildlife. If you go hiking in the Northwest, you’ll never see a lion or zebra, but you might see elk or black bear. Teaching people how to live conflict-free with wildlife – that’s what’s so cool about this job.” – Haley, carnivore keeper, Northwest Trek 10:30am Haley’s hot and sweaty. She’s been whacking weeds in the wolf habitat for two and a half hours, and now it’s time to clean out grizzly bear dens. “We wear many hats,” she says with a small smile, of herself, fellow keeper …

Jun 29, 2021

Focusing intently, Jessica stares into the swirling depths of a big black water tank. Summer sun reflects off the surface, air bubbles stir up the mid-layer and the bottom is in deep shadow. On first glance it’s nearly impossible to see that the tank contains over 100 plump, wriggling tadpoles. But Jessica – an animal keeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – suddenly dives her bare arm into the water with a small net scoop. “There you are!” she says, pleased, and gently deposits one tadpole into a shallow net pen floating at the surface. It’s vet check-up time for …

Jun 28, 2021

Summer’s here – that means sun, splashing and celebrating Independence Day. Over at Northwest Trek’s Eagle Passage, though, we’re thinking about eagle feathers. From grooming to shedding to collecting and honoring, the feathers of America’s iconic symbol are important to all of us – and are helping give the two-year-old habitat a new summer look, too. Cheveyo’s Pool Well, it’s not her pool exclusively, of course. But the brand-new bathing pool in Eagle Passage is on Cheveyo’s side of the walkway by design, giving the one-winged eagle “warrior” (the meaning of her name, in Hopi) first dibs on splashing, bathing …

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 …