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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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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 …

Dec 30, 2020

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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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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 …

Dec 30, 2020

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.

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 …

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 …