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Northwest Trek News
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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 13, 2020

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week Oct. 11-17, and we’re celebrating our wonderful veterinary technicians with a virtual thank-you card. Keepers, curators and veterinarians all weighed in to thank our superhero vet tech Tracy Cramer, plus keeper Deanna Edwards who’s also a licensed vet tech, for all they do to care for animals and help staff: prepping for procedures, monitoring animal vitals and taking samples, working with keepers to help animals take part in their own health care, giving therapies, endless administrative support and generally being awesome. “Our veterinary technicians (also known as veterinary nurses) are invaluable. They do a tremendous …

Oct 01, 2020

To an outsider, it didn’t look unusual. As two keepers stood still inside the Forest & Wetlands habitat at Northwest Trek, they watched an old beaver slowly make his way into the pool. Sniffing everywhere, he walked slowly but steadily. Then he swam with front paws and whiskers outstretched to feel for the underwater entrance to his lodge before slipping inside. “There you go!” called one keeper encouragingly. R.B. Beaver, affectionately known as “Papa” for his role in the Northwest Trek beaver family, had just successfully shown that he could live a comfortable, capable life – without his eyesight. Eye …