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Northwest Trek News

Red Velvet

Graceful arched antlers. Soft fuzzy velvet. And then – a touch of deep, blood-filled red. Welcome to the rut, that breeding season for animals like the bison, elk, caribou, bighorn sheep and deer that call our Free-Roaming Area home. If you know anything about rut, you’ll know that for Roosevelt elk and others in the deer family, it means sparring with huge antler clashes to vie for herd dominance. But there’s a less audible part of the rut that’s just as visually striking – and is essential to all that antler clashing. Losing velvet. Velvet (in animal terms) is the …

Sep 01, 2021

Animals

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Sep 01, 2021

Graceful arched antlers. Soft fuzzy velvet. And then – a touch of deep, blood-filled red. Welcome to the rut, that breeding season for animals like the bison, elk, caribou, bighorn sheep and deer that call our Free-Roaming Area home. If you know anything about rut, you’ll know that for Roosevelt elk and others in the deer family, it means sparring with huge antler clashes to vie for herd dominance. But there’s a less audible part of the rut that’s just as visually striking – and is essential to all that antler clashing. Losing velvet. Velvet (in animal terms) is the …

Aug 13, 2021

TACOMA/EATONVILLE– As a powerful heat wave hits the greater Tacoma area with temperatures nearing 100-degrees, keepers at both Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash. and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, Wash. are finding ways to keep the animals cool. Like many kids on a hot day, the 3-year-old grizzly bears at Northwest Trek plunge, splash and wrestle in water. The bears have a 7-feet-deep pool all to themselves! “We love watching the bears enjoy their pool,” said keeper Haley Withers. “When the temperature is this high, we give them constant access to the water.” Withers also ensures …

Aug 12, 2021

Whenever Friday the 13th rolls around, even the least superstitious of us might look askance at a black cat or shiver at an owl hoot. But animal superstitions, although fun, can cause pretty bad luck for the wildlife who cross their paths. After all, we live in a world where 350,000 tourists can visit Scotland in one year just to try and spot the Loch Ness monster. If that same number of people all decided to hunt wolves or support the illegal trade in tiger parts, that would have a devastating effect on some amazing animals who are neither good …

Jul 27, 2021

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Northwest Trek, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out our “gold medal” list for the winners – we might even have a couple of honorable mentions for effort! Climbing – Mountain goat No contest here: mountain goats are excellent climbers, hence the name. Swimming – Beaver They may not win the speed prize, but anyone who can …

Jul 14, 2021

“I love working here. It’s a unique place, and I love the challenges that come with it.” – Dave, assistant curator and Free-Roaming Area keeper, Northwest Trek 8am Dave swings into the keeper truck with the ease of someone who’s been doing it for 25 years. As he pulls slowly through the gate into the Free-Roaming Area, he’s already on duty. Alert eyes scan the road ahead and forest to either side. It’s something he’ll be doing constantly over the next two hours, whether he’s driving around the 435-acre habitat, pulling out feed buckets or taking radio calls from fellow …

Jul 08, 2021

“People think that being a zookeeper is just playing with animals all day long. Actually, it’s caring for them and making their lives meaningful. And getting visitors to connect with them. That’s amazing to do.” – Wendi, Forest+Wetlands keeper, Northwest Trek 7:30am Wendi arrives at Northwest Trek for the early shift. On this mid-summer morning it’s a fine time to be working outside in a forest, but in winter it’s dark, cold and frequently icy. But for Wendi, that’s all part of the job. As one of the keepers in the Forest/Wetlands habitat, she cares for otters, beavers, badgers, wolverines, …

Jul 02, 2021

“The reason I love it here is because we care for native wildlife. If you go hiking in the Northwest, you’ll never see a lion or zebra, but you might see elk or black bear. Teaching people how to live conflict-free with wildlife – that’s what’s so cool about this job.” – Haley, carnivore keeper, Northwest Trek 10:30am Haley’s hot and sweaty. She’s been whacking weeds in the wolf habitat for two and a half hours, and now it’s time to clean out grizzly bear dens. “We wear many hats,” she says with a small smile, of herself, fellow keeper …

Jun 29, 2021

Focusing intently, Jessica stares into the swirling depths of a big black water tank. Summer sun reflects off the surface, air bubbles stir up the mid-layer and the bottom is in deep shadow. On first glance it’s nearly impossible to see that the tank contains over 100 plump, wriggling tadpoles. But Jessica – an animal keeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – suddenly dives her bare arm into the water with a small net scoop. “There you are!” she says, pleased, and gently deposits one tadpole into a shallow net pen floating at the surface. It’s vet check-up time for …

Conservation

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Aug 10, 2021

OTHELLO, Wash.– Hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs leapt back into the wild at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Grant County last week. The releases were made possible by a partnership of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Zoo, Washington State University (WSU), and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. WDFW collected northern leopard frog eggs earlier this spring, and after months of growing at the Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, the frogs were ready for release. Once abundant throughout North America, northern leopard frogs are rapidly disappearing from their …

Aug 05, 2021

The scene was hushed with concentration. Eleven scientists and Northwest Trek staff members bent over rows of tables outside the Northwest Trek conservation center, far outside the public area at the Eatonville wildlife park. Birds chirped in the surrounding forest. But the real stars of the intense scientific focus were some 350 northern leopard frogs – most of whom were sleeping soundly under anesthetic. It was tagging and measuring day, an effort involving three different partner organizations, in careful preparation for releasing these endangered frogs back into the wild of eastern Washington. The goal? To help repopulate a vanishing species. …

Jun 29, 2021

Focusing intently, Jessica stares into the swirling depths of a big black water tank. Summer sun reflects off the surface, air bubbles stir up the mid-layer and the bottom is in deep shadow. On first glance it’s nearly impossible to see that the tank contains over 100 plump, wriggling tadpoles. But Jessica – an animal keeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – suddenly dives her bare arm into the water with a small net scoop. “There you are!” she says, pleased, and gently deposits one tadpole into a shallow net pen floating at the surface. It’s vet check-up time for …

May 11, 2021

Seattle-Tacoma represent! More than 550 observers took part in this year’s City Nature Challenge spanning King and Pierce counties, including Everett, Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Snohomish and any place in between! Between April 30 and May 3, community scientists submitted more than 7,000 nature observations and identified more than 1,200 species showing the world the incredible biodiversity in the region’s home turf. That’s the region’s all-time record! “This year we had more observers participate, more observations made and more species identified in the Seattle-Tacoma area than we have since our region joined City Nature Challenge in 2017! We’ve also heard from participants that …

People

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Sep 08, 2021

Each weekend in October, “spooky” fall fun can be found at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. From a scavenger hunt to exploring the forest at night, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The park will be decorated with eerie spider webs, spooky glow-in-the-dark eyes and pumpkins everywhere! We encourage guests to wear their Halloween costumes any weekend of the month (we ask that adults leave their scary masks and face paint at home, please). Haunted Hike: Oct. 1-31 (Friday-Sunday), 9:30am-3pm Did you hear that? Something’s afoot at Northwest Trek. Walk our paths while you do an online scavenger hunt to …

Jul 22, 2021

Zookeepers and the animals they love What’s the animal you feel most deeply inside? The one you connect with, love, relate to, share traits with? For National Zookeeper Week 2021, we asked our longest-tenured keepers that very same question. Then our incredible staff photographer Katie Cotterill took portraits of both keeper AND animal, superimposing them in her camera as a double-exposure shot. The results are magic. (Curious about how she did it? Scroll to the bottom to find out.) Deanna, with Ellinor the mountain goat   Miranda, with Ahma the wolverine   Wendi, with Yakima the golden eagle   Dave, …

Jul 14, 2021

“I love working here. It’s a unique place, and I love the challenges that come with it.” – Dave, assistant curator and Free-Roaming Area keeper, Northwest Trek 8am Dave swings into the keeper truck with the ease of someone who’s been doing it for 25 years. As he pulls slowly through the gate into the Free-Roaming Area, he’s already on duty. Alert eyes scan the road ahead and forest to either side. It’s something he’ll be doing constantly over the next two hours, whether he’s driving around the 435-acre habitat, pulling out feed buckets or taking radio calls from fellow …

Jul 08, 2021

“People think that being a zookeeper is just playing with animals all day long. Actually, it’s caring for them and making their lives meaningful. And getting visitors to connect with them. That’s amazing to do.” – Wendi, Forest+Wetlands keeper, Northwest Trek 7:30am Wendi arrives at Northwest Trek for the early shift. On this mid-summer morning it’s a fine time to be working outside in a forest, but in winter it’s dark, cold and frequently icy. But for Wendi, that’s all part of the job. As one of the keepers in the Forest/Wetlands habitat, she cares for otters, beavers, badgers, wolverines, …

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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Aug 18, 2021

There’s a new bald eagle at Northwest Trek. Just outside the entry to the Eagle Passage habitat, a larger-than-life-size bird perches on a tall snag, wings spread. Like many an eagle, it stares into the distance, motionless. But this bald eagle won’t ever grow old or weaken. Cast in bronze, it immortalizes the iconic American birds that call the wildlife park home – and stands as a tribute to the human donors who made their habitat possible. “This is a project very dear to our hearts,” says Cathy Torgerson, president of the Northwest Trek Foundation which raised the $500,000 funding …

Jul 05, 2021

At Northwest Trek, fall is a magical time. A palette of bronze sweeps the hillsides. Golden light streams through the trees. Dust rises from bison, rolling and sparring. And through the forest comes an eerie, haunting whistle – the sound of elk bugling. The rut – mating season – runs September-October. Out in the Free Roaming Area, male elk, bison and bighorn sheep vie for dominance and select their mates. The perfect way to experience this magic up close? An Elk Bugling Tour. This year, we get you off-road and up to the action in the keeper Jeep, with just …

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 …