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Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

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. …

Oct 08, 2020

Once upon a time there were two wolf species: red wolves and gray wolves. Neither of them were “big and bad,” but they were often feared by humans. Over time, more and more were hunted. By 1940 gray wolves were decimated in the American wild and by the 1970s, so were red wolves. It was time for the story’s hero to step in. “Humans have a long history of blaming predators for problems, like wolves and grizzly bears,” says Marc Heinzman, zoological curator at Northwest Trek. “But scientific data shows that’s just not true in all cases.” While it’s true …

Oct 06, 2020

Staff at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are mourning the loss of two beloved moose, Nancy and Spruce, who died over the weekend at the Eatonville wildlife park. “We have lost two much-loved members of our Northwest Trek family,” Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman said. “We have cared for Nancy and Spruce since they were calves and watched them grow up into big, majestic moose who’ve inspired and humbled us every day.” While the two moose died within a day of each other, their histories and medical conditions were very different, said the wildlife park’s head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case. Nancy, an …

Oct 06, 2020

It’s true – bats have a bad rap. They’re best buddies with Dracula and have a cameo in “Macbeth.” They inspire spooky Halloween decorations. And if we’re not careful, we ourselves could become “batty.” They can carry viruses, including (most notably) the coronavirus that spread to humans from wildlife markets as Covid-19. But then there’s Batman. And those of us who know bats – like here at Northwest Trek and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – know that they truly are the superheroes of the night: zipping effortlessly in the dark using echolocation or cutting-edge wing design, munching their own …

Oct 02, 2020

Animals, Costumes and Fun at Point Defiance Zoo & Northwest Trek  It’s time to have some spooky fun while staying safe at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Both zoos are getting in the fall spirit, with pumpkin enrichment for animals and costumes encouraged for everyone in October! Whether you want to visit the Zoo or Northwest Trek in person or join in on the festivities online, we’re here to help you have a healthy and enjoyable Halloween. Haunted Hike When: Fri.-Sun., Oct. 16-Oct. 31, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Where: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park What: Let’s get …