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Northwest Trek News

2020 Year in Photos

What a year this has been! From closing to opening, new Wild Drive to baby animals, we’ve had plenty of ups and downs. Here’s 2020, seen in our best photos.

Dec 30, 2020

Animals

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Feb 26, 2021

Bobcats Tanner, 8, and Tahoma, 4, are getting along so well, they are now able to share the bobcat habitat at Northwest Trek together! Tahoma arrived at Northwest Trek in 2020, after being raised illegally as a pet. Since his arrival, keepers have slowly introduced the two cats to each other, first just visually through a fence before eventually allowing them to be together. “We wanted to give Tahoma time to adjust to his new surroundings before introducing him to Tanner,” said keeper Haley Withers. “When they did meet, Tanner climbed up into a tree while Tahoma stayed on ground …

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 …

Jan 27, 2021

Being native to the Pacific Northwest, the animals at Northwest Trek don’t seem to mind the colder winter weather. But the snowy owls at the park don’t just put up with it, they thrive in it. Tundra, a male, and Taiga, a female, embrace these cooler temperatures and it shows. “They’re more active at this time of year and we notice a big increase in their food drive,” said keeper Miranda Mauck. “Their favorite food is mice!” In the wild, snowy owls live near beaches and fields in the winter in Alaska and Canada… brrr! Now you see me, now …

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 …

Conservation

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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 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. …

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 …

People

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Mar 19, 2021

Northwest Trek will be open daily for spring breaks and there will be plenty to see and do! Both wild animals and the animals at Northwest Trek become much more active in spring as it warms up and plants grow and natural food sources become more abundant. Active Bears The black bears at Northwest Trek are slowly waking up from torpor, a state in which a bear’s body temperature, respiratory rate and metabolic rates all decrease to conserve energy. The bears had little activity outside of their dens over the last few months, including eating. The grizzly bears went into …

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 …

Dec 30, 2020

Everyone agrees: 2020 was a really tough year. Covid-19 turned our world upside down, and many of us knew loss. Our Zoo/Northwest Trek had to close for months, and reopen with completely new ways of doing everything. Like so many, we lost money, and had to say goodbye to many staff members. We lost beloved animals to old age and illness. But to counter these very real sorrows, we had many joys, like connecting people safely with each other, animals and nature. Welcoming new animals into the world. Healing others from sickness. Winning Association of Zoos & Aquariums awards for …

plants

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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 …

Jun 22, 2020

Tomatoes. Apples. Almonds. Pumpkin. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. All pretty important, right? And they all have one thing in common: they need pollinators. Around 1,000 plants that humans use for food, drink, fiber, spices or medicine need to be pollinated by a very special group of animals called pollinators. Bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, bats and even some kinds of beetles, flies and ants are incredibly necessary to produce much of the food humans need to survive. As pollinators forage for nectar, they transfer pollen from male to female flowers to allow the plant to reproduce – and feed humans. But …

Trails & Tours

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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 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 …

Sep 22, 2020

Quick – what’s even better than a rambunctious grizzly bear splashing in a pool? A 180-degree view of him from a brand-new platform! Now over two years old, our grizzly bears Hawthorne and Huckleberry are bigger and more playful than ever. Last winter we took the false bottom out of their pool (put there to protect them when they were small) and they really enjoy splashing around in the full depth of seven feet. “Huckleberry loves the pool – he’s a real water bear,” comments keeper Jordan Bednarz. “But they’re both super playful with everything.” And the sand that was …

Aug 10, 2020

EATONVILLE, Wash.– Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is reopening its Keeper Adventure Tours on Friday, Aug. 14, with timed online tickets and enhanced safety protocols designed to help guests connect up close with wildlife while staying safe and healthy. Timed online tickets will go on sale Aug. 10. The 90-minute Keeper Adventure Tours take guests aboard an open-air Jeep on paved roads rarely traveled, on gravel tracks and occasionally off-road to see bison, moose, mountain goats, elk, deer, swans and more in the park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area. If guests book now, they can see Northwest Trek’s baby animals and experience the …