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Author: Tessa LaVergne

Nov 29, 2022

The black bears at Northwest Trek have gone down for their winter naps, also known as torpor. During torpor, a bear’s body temperature, respiratory rate and metabolic rates all decrease to conserve energy. The bears can maintain this low energy sleeping state for days, weeks or even months without having much activity outside of their den, including eating and going to the bathroom. Northwest Trek’s black bears, Benton and Fern, typically go into torpor from November until February or March. “Benton and Fern do have periods of activity during the winter months, where they will eat, go to the bathroom, …

Nov 18, 2022

Our three 10-year-old gray wolves were given a clean bill of health at their triennial examinations in early November. Northwest Trek Head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case led the exams with the assistance of veterinary technician Tracy and keepers Haley, Carly, and Aynsley. On average, gray wolves weigh 75 to 110 pounds. At their exams, Canagan, the resident male wolf, weighed 103 pounds, and females Tala and Darci both weighed 83 pounds. Each wolf received a complete checkup: full physical exam, blood and urine analyses, vaccinations, X-rays, nail trims, and a dental cleaning. And, of course, Dr. Case ensured the wolves …

Nov 08, 2022

“All right – who’s ready to go into the park and do some science?” “YEAH!!!!” The yell was impressive – but so was the quiet focus that followed as Ms. Hastler’s first grade class lined up to put on their yellow waterproof “science jackets.” It was the very first in-the-park science week for Wildlife Champions at Lister Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington, and the 16 first-graders were bubbling with excitement. Zoo volunteer Brittany (left) and educators Sam Hain and Liz Hines help Lister students put on their “science jackets” for the outdoor lesson. “What kind of animals do you think we’ll see …

Oct 25, 2022

Black cats, pumpkins, ghosts… skulls and skeletons. They’re all symbols of the Halloween season. We asked Northwest Trek’s Head Veterinarian, Dr. Allison Case, to give us an “inside” look at a few of the wildlife park’s animals and their not-so-spooky skeletons. Dr. Case regularly takes radiographs or X-rays of the animals to check on their health and care for them. Porcupine There’s a lot more under the prickly surface of a porcupine’s quills that you can see in an X-ray. “During a routine wellness exam, I’ll look at the animal’s joints, shape of the heart, liver and intestines and zoom …

Oct 24, 2022

It’s one of the most festive events of the year — Pumpkin Chomp & Stomp at Northwest Trek. Guests can see Halloween decorations throughout the wildlife park, take a Haunted Hike, and watch animals play with PLENTY of pumpkins. The horticulture team at Northwest Trek grows many of the pumpkins. This year, they produced about 30 pumpkins and 400 various hybrid gourds. “Every year, we give pumpkins to our animals as part of the Pumpkin Chomp & Stomp event,” horticulturist Jake explained. “But a few years ago, I noticed that some of the carving pumpkins weren’t very nutritious.” In 2018, Jake researched pumpkin …

Oct 04, 2022

Fat Bear Week, October 5-October 11, is a celebration of success and survival, where brown bears in the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska are matched against each other in a “march madness” style online voting competition to see who is crowned the Fat Bear Week Champion of 2022. No, it’s not fat shaming- it’s highlighting the resilience and adaptability of brown bears. Fat Bear Tuesday (Oct. 11) is when the winner is announced. While the grizzly bears at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park aren’t in the competition, we think they’re worth celebrating too. Huckleberry and Hawthorne, both 4 years …

Oct 04, 2022

Huckleberry, the 4-year-old grizzly bear, recently had an examination with his veterinarian and animal care team to perform an annual checkup on his right ankle. Keepers first noticed Huckleberry walking on his tippy toes and avoiding putting his heel on the ground in 2020. After a diagnostic exam, Northwest Trek’s head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case determined that Huckleberry had developed moderate arthritis in his ankle. Since then, he’s been treated with anti-inflammatory medications and joint supplements as needed. Dr. Case scheduled an annual examination to perform another in-depth check this fall to provide further treatment for the bear. “X-rays show …

Sep 28, 2022

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park earned kudos and another five years of accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) last week. The Eatonville wildlife park, a facility of Metro Parks Tacoma, has been continuously accredited by the prestigious organization since it first applied for recognition in 1985. “We know that Northwest Trek is well-regarded by guests, who return again and again,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “Our community can take great pride in knowing that our wildlife park is among the best in the country and a national leader in animal care, …

May 20, 2022

Both the black bears and grizzly bears are well-awake from their winter naps and energetic in their habitats at Northwest Trek. The grizzly “brothers” are playful and can often be seen splashing in their 7-foot deep pool, wrestling one another, head-butting and searching for hidden treats keepers have left them. The black bears next door can also be seen walking or running through their habitat and playing with enrichment from the keepers. It’s an exciting time of year for both the bears and the visitors who get to see them! But, seeing bears in the wild, while exciting, requires you …

Feb 22, 2022

This Black History Month, we sat down with Sunni, a zookeeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park who helps make the park the incredibly special place it is. We asked her about her experiences in zookeeping and what working with animals and wildlife means to her. Q: What is your favorite part of the job? A: I love working with and creating a relationship with the animals. I also enjoy creating fun and special moments with children on the Keeper Adventure Tours I lead. It’s wonderful watching them discover something new and cool and seeing their reaction to the animals. Q: …