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Northwest Trek News

What’s Enrichment?

The word “enrichment” is said dozens of times a day around Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. As in, “we have the enrichment ready for the otters” or “Aspen the moose really seemed to enjoy her enrichment today” or “we need to create the beavers’ enrichment this afternoon.” Providing enriching experiences is a vital part of providing high-quality animal care at Northwest Trek- but what exactly is enrichment? “Enrichment items are things like food, smells or toys that enhance the health and well-being of the animals in our care,” said Haley, animal keeper and coordinator of the Behavioral Husbandry Committee at Northwest …

Feb 18, 2022

Animals

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May 04, 2022

How do you vaccinate a wolverine or draw blood from a grizzly bear? It takes dedication, teamwork, patience – and a lot of trust. Northwest Trek keepers train many of the animals daily to voluntarily participate in their own healthcare — holding still to receive medical injections or X-rays, presenting paws for blood draws, allowing eye drops. The list goes on. And, most importantly, it’s all collaborative. “If they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to,” explained keeper Wendi, who has cared for animals at the wildlife park for 21 years. “It’s all positive reinforcement training. We must earn …

Apr 29, 2022

The Cheney Discovery Center reopens May 3 at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and will be open daily from 11am-4pm. The recently remodeled building invites guests of all ages to discover a tiny world of reptiles and amphibians like a gopher snake, northern leopard frogs, rough-skinned newts and more. “There are new species and animals to meet and new educational puzzles and games to play,” said Education Curator Craig Standridge. “We are delighted to welcome guests back into this world of wonder to learn more about the smaller creatures of the Pacific Northwest.” NORTHERN LEOPARD FROGS New in the Cheney Discovery …

Apr 29, 2022

Wolverines are tough survivors. They are exposed to harsh, frozen Northwest mountain winters. They are agile climbers, strong diggers, and aren’t afraid of anything. At Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Ahma the wolverine has proved to be all those things and more in her 15 years of life. She is the second oldest wolverine in human care in the United States. And over the past few weeks, she has faced her biggest challenge yet: having surgery to remove both of her eyes after her animal care team noticed a significant change in her eye color and was diagnosed with a lens …

Apr 25, 2022

Our Free-Roaming Area is a 435-acre Northwest paradise for herds of Roosevelt elk, bison, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer and swan. In addition to the elegant trumpeter swans—the largest extant species of waterfowl, there is a varied and wide-ranging number of waterfowl species that—for at least part of the year—call the ponds and lakes at Northwest Trek their home. The Green-winged Teal is North America’s smallest dabbling duck. What is a dabbling duck you may wonder? A dabbling duck is a type of shallow water duck that feeds primarily along the surface of the water or by tipping …

May 04, 2022

How do you vaccinate a wolverine or draw blood from a grizzly bear? It takes dedication, teamwork, patience – and a lot of trust. Northwest Trek keepers train many of the animals daily to voluntarily participate in their own healthcare — holding still to receive medical injections or X-rays, presenting paws for blood draws, allowing eye drops. The list goes on. And, most importantly, it’s all collaborative. “If they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to,” explained keeper Wendi, who has cared for animals at the wildlife park for 21 years. “It’s all positive reinforcement training. We must earn …

Apr 29, 2022

Wolverines are tough survivors. They are exposed to harsh, frozen Northwest mountain winters. They are agile climbers, strong diggers, and aren’t afraid of anything. At Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Ahma the wolverine has proved to be all those things and more in her 15 years of life. She is the second oldest wolverine in human care in the United States. And over the past few weeks, she has faced her biggest challenge yet: having surgery to remove both of her eyes after her animal care team noticed a significant change in her eye color and was diagnosed with a lens …

Apr 28, 2022

If Dr. Karen Wolf needs another skilled set of hands for a polar bear 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 …

Apr 20, 2022

It’s spring cleaning season at Northwest Trek and our maintenance staff recently used their big lift to retrieve small tree limbs that had fallen on top of the netting of Eagle Passage, while pressure washing around the area, too. So our animal care and veterinary teams took advantage of the opportunity to give annual health exams to bald eagles Sequoia, Sucia, Salish and Cheveyo. All four rescued birds traveled to the onsite veterinary clinic where they got a massive “hug” from Keeper Wendi. Because it was not necessary to anesthetize the bald eagles during these exams, animal care and veterinary …

Conservation

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Mar 23, 2022

Locating Amphibian Egg Masses What species of amphibians are thriving in the Pacific Northwest? One way to find out is to locate and identify their egg masses, and March is a perfect month to monitor for amphibian egg masses in the ponds at Northwest Trek. Just north of the wildlife park is a 4-acre wetland mitigation site where this search frequently takes place. “This is an ideal place for monitoring egg masses,“ says Northwest Trek’s Conservation Program Coordinator Rachael. “Since the wetland’s restoration, we’ve identified eggs from seven of the eight monitored species of stillwater-breeding amphibians.” “The biggest diversity of …

Nov 17, 2021

On Friday, November 5, federal, state, tribal and partner biologists released five fishers from Alberta, Canada into the lush, coastal forest near Lake Ozette, the latest event in a nearly two decades-long project to restore the native species to Washington State. Fishers- a member of the mustelid or weasel family roughly the size of a housecat that feeds on rodents, hares and even porcupines- were extirpated from Washington by the 1930s due to over-trapping, poisoning and fragmentation of their forest habitat. This latest fisher release is part of an ongoing partnership led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the National …

Oct 26, 2021

You could say we’re a bit batty for bats at Northwest Trek. We appreciate what bats offer our ecosystems — and because of that, we work hard to protect them. Northwest Trek is home to one of the largest wild bat colonies in the South Puget Sound region. The bats roost under the eaves of many of our buildings and around the wildlife park, including in all the bat boxes we’ve put on trees. Protecting bats is important Bats keep us all healthy. Pacific Northwest bats are insectivores, consuming their own body weight in bugs every night. If we didn’t …

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 …

People

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Apr 29, 2022

Go beyond the typical Mother’s Day gifts and give mom a memorable experience she can enjoy with the whole family this year. Get up close to a moose, groom a goat or touch a jellyfish! She won’t soon forget these amazing  experiences at Northwest Trek and our sister zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! 1. Go on a Wild Drive Uh-oh! There’s a traffic jam… a herd of bison are in the road! This Wild Drive is bound to be much more exciting than rush hour on I-5. Take your own personal vehicle on the paved roads through Northwest Trek’s peaceful 435-acre …

Apr 18, 2022

In honor of National Volunteer Week, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park employees thank the park’s irreplaceable volunteers for their time and energy all year-round. In 2021, volunteers at Northwest Trek logged a total of 2,295 hours. “I appreciate all of our volunteers for their hard work and dedication to Northwest Trek and willingness to assist at any time,” said volunteer coordinator Jessica Steele. Six volunteers have each given more than 20 years of service to the wildlife park. Another three have given at least ten years. It’s likely you’ve met a volunteer while visiting Northwest Trek. Many of them have probably …

Apr 15, 2022

Metro Parks Tacoma’s Dickman Mill Park and groundbreaking nature science education curriculum Wildlife Champions have won 2022 Spotlight Awards from the Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA). The awards, open to any Washington parks district, were announced Thursday night at the annual WRPA conference in Bellevue, Washington. The Spotlight Award category recognizes outstanding achievement in facilities, parks, trails or programs by parks and recreation agencies. “Metro Parks is extremely proud of both of these outstanding contributions to our community, which perfectly fulfil our mission of creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow,” said Andrea Smith, Park Board president. “We’re …

Apr 01, 2022

For the fourth consecutive year, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are certified as sensory-inclusive venues by a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing understanding, acceptance, and inclusion for people with sensory needs. “We want every guest to feel welcome and comfortable throughout their visit,” said Alan Varsik, director of Point Defiance Zoo and Northwest Trek. “Becoming sensory-inclusive helps us engage with everyone in our community and awaken a connection to wildlife.” In 2019, the two sister zoos were among the first venues in Washington to become sensory-certified through KultureCity. Today, eight venues in the state are …

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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Apr 12, 2022

Down a peaceful side trail at Northwest Trek, just past the zipline, a tiny door is just visible in the grass. No, you’re not imagining things. It’s a fairy house, and there are at least a dozen more dotted along the same trail – just keep your eyes open. “I was inspired by a ‘gnome trail’ I hiked 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 explore them more.” Fairy Fun And the Trek Fairy Trail does make for …

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. …