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Northwest Trek News

Volunteering for Nature

It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to talk to strangers, spend hours outside or even wade through cold ponds. But volunteering at Northwest Trek is infinitely rewarding – for yourself and for the planet. Richard Richard Nichols is standing beside a cart on the Bear Bridge. He’s been a volunteer at Northwest Trek for a year, and he knows exactly what to say when a family wanders along, the father looking around uncertainly. “Tram?” says Nichols, succinctly. The father nods. Nichols points down to the Discovery Tram Tour station. “That way, sir. Keep going and you’ll find …

May 13, 2019

Animals

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May 06, 2019

Spring means baby animals – and ours are here! In the Free-Roaming Area, take a Discovery Tram Tour and keep a lookout for fuzzy orange bison calves or tiny white bighorn lambs hidden in the ferns. Stay tuned for more animals as they are born! And don’t forget our other young animals. Grizzly cubs Hawthorne and Huckleberry are nearly 18 months old now, and growing up fast.: digging, swimming, climbing. Our mountain goat kids are nearly one year old and still roam in a big, fluffy white pack in the Free-Roaming Area. Happy spring! (Click on a photo to open …

Apr 18, 2019

It’s a sunny spring afternoon at Northwest Trek, and in the Free-Roaming Area pond a small turtle is basking on a log. Keeper Dave Meadows, passing by, stops the truck and whips out a camera – because this is no ordinary turtle. It’s a rare western pond turtle, endangered in Washington. And it’s the first one seen at the wildlife park in two years. “You really only see them in spring, when they come out of hibernation and it’s sunny, but before the water levels fall too much,” says Meadows. Native – and endangered Western pond turtles are around 4-8 …

Jan 24, 2019

Giving a porcupine a physical exam can get a bit prickly – but our stellar veterinary team managed it easily! Head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case and veterinary technician Sara Dunleavy gave Thistle the porcupine his annual wellness exam recently, including ear, nose, eye and mouth checks, vital signs, palpation, blood tests and more, giving Thistle a clean bill of health. Here are the photos (click to expand).  

Dec 20, 2018

It’s a cold morning at Northwest Trek – a hushed, frozen stillness rising off the lake. But it’s not bothering Fern at all. The black bear has her head down, wrenching a branch off a fir tree to pad out her winter den. As she does, keeper Angela Gibson looks on in satisfaction: this is no ordinary holiday tree. It’s a piece of enrichment, carefully designed to improve Fern’s life – and it’s definitely working. “Enrichment is about providing the animals with experiences where they can express their natural behaviors and desires,” explains Gibson. “It creates opportunities for the animals …

Apr 29, 2019

For four-year-old Blakeley, it was a routine exam. But for the humans who care for her, it was a chance to share and pass on crucial veterinary knowledge and skills. The Northwest Trek river otter was scheduled for a regular triennial wellness check-up, and it was a great opportunity for lead veterinarian Dr. Allison Case and vet technician Sara Dunleavy to teach Brianna Smith, visiting vet tech student extern, some of the skills she’ll need in a career of caring for animals. And at the same time, it helped Case get a little closer to solving a mystery about Blakeley’s …

Mar 06, 2019

Northwest Trek keeper/veterinary technician Deanna Edwards cradled the massive head of Ellis the moose in her arms, taking care that his breathing was regular as he lay on the grass, anesthetized, in a Free-Roaming Area field. He made a low-pitched thrumming noise as he slept, sounding a bit like a machine of some kind had invaded the quiet of the forest. But, nope, it was just the normal vocalization of a sedated moose – and this forest “house-call” was all in a day’s work for Ellis’ dedicated veterinary and keeper team. Vet on the ground To Ellis’ rear, Northwest Trek …

Jan 24, 2019

Giving a porcupine a physical exam can get a bit prickly – but our stellar veterinary team managed it easily! Head veterinarian Dr. Allison Case and veterinary technician Sara Dunleavy gave Thistle the porcupine his annual wellness exam recently, including ear, nose, eye and mouth checks, vital signs, palpation, blood tests and more, giving Thistle a clean bill of health. Here are the photos (click to expand).  

Dec 20, 2018

It’s a cold morning at Northwest Trek – a hushed, frozen stillness rising off the lake. But it’s not bothering Fern at all. The black bear has her head down, wrenching a branch off a fir tree to pad out her winter den. As she does, keeper Angela Gibson looks on in satisfaction: this is no ordinary holiday tree. It’s a piece of enrichment, carefully designed to improve Fern’s life – and it’s definitely working. “Enrichment is about providing the animals with experiences where they can express their natural behaviors and desires,” explains Gibson. “It creates opportunities for the animals …

Conservation

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May 13, 2019

As pink sky slowly darkens behind tall trees, six scientists stand motionless outside the veterinary clinic at Northwest Trek. Only a robin’s chirp pierces the cool air. All eyes are fixed on the clinic’s overhang roof, straining to see through the shadows. They’re waiting for the appearance of a tiny creature that’s often misunderstood, yet is vital to human health, and is now in danger from a deadly disease. They’re waiting for bats. 6:00 p.m. Scientists Michelle Tirhi and Abby Tobin arrive at Northwest Trek, and start scouting bat roosts with Trek staff: conservation engagement coordinator Rachael Mueller, veterinary technician …

Apr 18, 2019

It’s a sunny spring afternoon at Northwest Trek, and in the Free-Roaming Area pond a small turtle is basking on a log. Keeper Dave Meadows, passing by, stops the truck and whips out a camera – because this is no ordinary turtle. It’s a rare western pond turtle, endangered in Washington. And it’s the first one seen at the wildlife park in two years. “You really only see them in spring, when they come out of hibernation and it’s sunny, but before the water levels fall too much,” says Meadows. Native – and endangered Western pond turtles are around 4-8 …

Jul 16, 2018

The mission began at sunset. After a quick briefing to receive assignments and equipment, 26 staff and volunteers spread silently out to their locations. In the entrance breezeway, near the tram garage and underneath trees, they hunkered low on the ground as darkness grew. They waited, breath hushed. And then, with a chattering and creaking overhead, the mission began: The Great Trek Bat Count of 2018. As bats began to fly out from their roosts into the night to hunt, the humans sitting quietly below them began to click their counters, one for each outgoing bat. One staff member had …

Jun 05, 2018

Some was sprinkled around the base of a tree. More was scattered over the floor of the tram garage. But it was just outside one of the veterinary clinics, under a wide overhanging awning, that Michelle Tirhi got really excited. “Look at all that!” she exclaimed, sweeping her eyes around the concrete floor. “And it’s all fresh! We could just scoop up some right now.” Bending down, she picked up a tiny black sliver the size and shape of a rice grain and held it up triumphantly. Bat poop. Or guano, to be precise. Tirhi, the District II wildlife biologist …

People

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May 13, 2019

It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to talk to strangers, spend hours outside or even wade through cold ponds. But volunteering at Northwest Trek is infinitely rewarding – for yourself and for the planet. Richard Richard Nichols is standing beside a cart on the Bear Bridge. He’s been a volunteer at Northwest Trek for a year, and he knows exactly what to say when a family wanders along, the father looking around uncertainly. “Tram?” says Nichols, succinctly. The father nods. Nichols points down to the Discovery Tram Tour station. “That way, sir. Keep going and you’ll find …

Apr 10, 2019

Katherine Miles sits on the Northwest Trek tram, her face glued to the window. Like any other kid, she’s mesmerized by the fluffy white mountain goat kids squeezed onto a single log by the lake. But unlike a lot of other kids at the wildlife park, she’s also nestling a weighted lap pad on her lap, and her headphones aren’t channeling anything but silence. Twelve-year-old Katherine is one of the first visitors to make use of Northwest Trek’s new sensory-inclusive tools – and the difference it’s making to her Trek experience is huge. “It’s like night and day,” says mom …

Feb 11, 2019

Maybe it was the bison. Maybe it was the towering evergreens and tranquil lake. Or maybe it just felt like home. But when Mike and Amelia Sharpe first visited Northwest Trek to see if they wanted to get married there, the decision was instant. “We looked at each other and we knew,” says the couple, who not only held their wedding at Northwest Trek in July, 2017 but went back for an anniversary visit in 2018. “We didn’t look anywhere else.” Northwest Beauty A big part of it was that the wildlife park felt like home. Native Washingtonians, Mike and …

Oct 24, 2018

Experiencing a Northwest Trek Virtual Field Trip   You could almost touch the anticipation. Twenty first-graders from Tacoma’s Roosevelt Elementary waved excitedly to the face on the big screen in the front of their room – and as teacher Kaylin Gasparach toggled with the screen windows, the face waved back. It was Wendi Mello, keeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and as the class gasped, the owl on her arm slowly turned its head and blinked. Mello – and the owl – were taking the class on a raptor adventure full of science, learning and animals – a Northwest Trek …

Trails & Tours

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Jan 28, 2019

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 …

Jul 24, 2018

Bison grunt and snort. A caribou calf nurses noisily, its mother calmly munching on grass. The sweet scents of the meadow mingle with more earthy smells as herds of animals pass by. And Northwest Trek Wildlife Park guests are amazingly in the middle of the action, getting closer to the animals of the Free-Roaming Area than ever before aboard a specially equipped Jeep. They’re on a brand new Keeper Adventure Tour. This intimate experience, which takes wildlife park guests on the paved roads rarely traveled, on gravel tracks and occasionally even off-road, opens to the public on Thursday, July 26. …

Jul 03, 2018

Down a peaceful side trail at Northwest Trek, just past the zipline, a tiny door is just visible in the grass. Silver-spattered with a curtain of moss, it shimmers under the nettle leaves like a mirage. No, you’re not imagining things. It’s a fairy house, and there are twenty more dotted along the same trail – just keep your eyes open. “I was inspired by a ‘gnome trail’ I hiked recently with my family,” says Rick Dietz, Northwest Trek’s Deputy Director. “I thought it would be a fun way to add some excitement to our trails and encourage people to …