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Author: Tessa LaVergne

Dec 16, 2020

A rainy and cold December morning couldn’t stop dedicated volunteers from planting trees at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Recently, 10 employees from Columbia Bank volunteered to help the park’s horticulturist plant 260 native trees around the parking lots. Dressed in rain coats, hats and boots, the volunteers stood in a socially-distanced circle and listened as horticulturist Jake Pool explained the process of planting and why it’s so important to have new trees in the park. “In the 13 years I’ve worked at Northwest Trek, this is by far the worst year I’ve seen for tree loss,” said Pool. “Just this …

Dec 16, 2020

Reindeer tend to steal the spotlight in December, but this year it’s their close relative, the caribou, that are turning heads at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. For the first time ever, the caribou are staying out in the park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area during the fall and winter months. In past years, the caribou were separated from the other animals in their own 15-acre forested enclosure during the fall and winter. “That’s the time of year when rut, also known as breeding season, can cause the larger and stronger elk to be more aggressive,” said Keeper Dave Meadows. “So we’d move …

Dec 03, 2020

A poem about birds next to a snowy owl habitat? A tree poem planted in a forest? That’s Poetry in the Park at Northwest Trek! This December, guests can wander around the wildlife park to find poetry signs right next to native Northwest animals and plants in a partnership with Tahoma Audubon Society, who installs Poetry in the Park elsewhere in Tacoma during the year. The park is also filled with festive decorations like evergreen gnomes, white pumpkin “snowmen”, giant snowflakes on trees and a trail of animal cutouts showing just how animals (and us) need trees to live, year-round. …

Nov 23, 2020

Just as humans get excited for a full plate of food- so do animals. Some of Northwest Trek’s woodlands and wetland animals were recently given their own Thanksgiving feast. Their dinner plate: a cornucopia. Skunk Skunks are omnivores and eat a variety of foods seasonally, including vegetable material and up to their weight in insects every week. For Milton the skunk’s feast, keeper Wendi Mello gave him a mixture of blueberries, pears, yams, omnivore and insectivore chow and a handful of mealworms. Mealworms are his favorite food, said Mello. She added that Milton also likes cranberries (how festive!) and eats …

Nov 19, 2020

The black bears at Northwest Trek are slowing down and getting ready 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. They do have periods of activity during the winter months, where they will eat, defecate/urinate and remake their …

Nov 10, 2020

Brrr! You can feel the chill in the air as the temperature drops. You’re likely pulling out your winter coats, if you haven’t already! Many of the animals at the wildlife park also have their winter coats ready and are well-prepared for the colder weather. You know that wildly famous Frozen song “Let it Go”? “The cold never bothered me anyway”- it’s definitely the theme song of these animals. Wolverines Wolverines are made for the cold- and our wolverines Rainier and Ahma are no exception. Wolverines are well-adapted for winter living, with extremely dense fur, large snowshoe-like paws that allow …

Oct 29, 2020

There’s a new cat in town! Northwest Trek is now home to Tahoma, a 4-year-old male bobcat. Tahoma was raised as a pet until recently. Bobcats are illegal to own as pets in Washington State, and his owner was forced to surrender him. Tahoma joins the wildlife park’s resident male bobcat, 8-year-old Tanner, who was also raised by humans before coming to Northwest Trek. Because of the cats’ comfortability around people, they both are not able to be released back into the wild. “Bobcats are wild animals, and wild animals don’t make good pets. It takes generations of careful breeding …

Oct 13, 2020

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. Tolmie the 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 …

Sep 24, 2020

Fall looks pretty much the same across the country: changing leaves, plaid or flannel clothing, pumpkin spice lattes (or pumpkin spiced everything), corn mazes and hay bales on doorsteps. But at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, there’s something else to add to the list that signals the change of the seasons: Roosevelt elk mating season, known as rut. On the first day of fall, a few park employees hopped into the Keeper Adventure Tour Jeep and headed out into the park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area to experience rut. It was a classic autumn morning in Western Washington, dark, drizzly, kind-of-cold but not-quite-freezing-cold …

Jul 16, 2020

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park opened on July 17, 1975. Today, the park embodies the vision of Dr. David T. “Doc” and Connie Hellyer, who donated their land to Metro Parks Tacoma in the early 1970s to preserve it as a wildlife park. If the Hellyers were alive today to walk through the park, they would see 185 animals, including eagles, bison, grizzlies and wolves enjoying the land they left behind just for them. They would also see many of the same towering trees. The Hellyers knew their lake-and-forest-studded land in the shadow of Mount Rainier was something special, and they …