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Northwest Trek News

Zookeeper Life: Wendi Mello

“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 Mello, Wetlands keeper, Northwest Trek 7:30am Wendi Mello 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 Mello, that’s all part of the job. As one of the keepers in the Forest/Wetlands habitat, she cares for otters, beavers, …

Jul 08, 2019

Animals

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Jul 11, 2019

They’re smart, strong and full of personality – and they’re back at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Brother-and-sister wolverines Rainier and Ahma, both born at Northwest Trek, have returned home, and they will make their official public debut July 13-14 in a newly renovated, 10,800-square-foot habitat. You can meet their keepers at Keeper Chats 11:30am and 1:30pm Saturday July 13 and Sunday July 14 They’ll be visible at different times as they get used to their new home – come back later if you don’t see them at first. They have plenty of trees, boulders and logs to climb and explore, …

Jun 28, 2019

Forget the ugly duckling. These cygnets are only a week old, and already beautiful. But the six baby swans, which hatched early June at Northwest Trek, aren’t just pint-sized bundles of fluffy gray cuteness. They’re part of a success story for trumpeter swans in North America, helping the species flourish in the wild. “This year we had six cygnets, which is more than we’ve had in years,” said curator Marc Heinzman. “It’s great to see such a healthy population here.” Paired for life, breeding for the future The new cygnets were hatched to the wildlife park’s breeding pair of swans, …

Jun 17, 2019

It’s a cool, wet spring morning at Northwest Trek, and keeper Wendi Mello is cleaning out the fisher habitat. She scoops some poop, then bends down intently. “Aha!” she exclaims, and reaches out a gloved hand. It’s a banana slug, long, mottled and yellow – and Mello scoops it up in all its slimy glory. Slug Fest is coming, and Northwest Trek is getting ready. Slug Hunting “Fifty to sixty degrees and raining, that’s prime slug hunting time,” explains Mello. One of the Wetlands keepers, she’s the lead for collecting banana slugs for the ever-popular Tank o’ Slugs at the …

May 29, 2019

Soar like an eagle on a zip line Our bald eagles are coming this summer to Eagle Passage, and you can swoop with the same grace and speed (well, almost) on one of our five exhilarating zip line course, from Super Kid (ages 5 and up) through Sensation (ages 18+). Book here.   Build like a beaver at Kids’ Trek Beavers are nature’s engineers, reshaping their environment to build dams and lodges. Build a fort of branches in our Kids’ Trek playground and test out your engineering skills! Then come visit our beavers in the Forest+Wetland habitat, resting, swimming or …

Jul 17, 2019

“I love working here. It’s a unique place, and I love the challenges that come with it.” – Dave Meadows, Free-Roaming Area keeper, Northwest Trek 8am Dave Meadows 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 keepers. …

Jul 08, 2019

“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 Mello, Wetlands keeper, Northwest Trek 7:30am Wendi Mello 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 Mello, that’s all part of the job. As one of the keepers in the Forest/Wetlands habitat, she cares for otters, beavers, …

Jul 02, 2019

“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 Withers, carnivore keeper, Northwest Trek 10:30am Haley Withers is 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 …

Jun 07, 2019

You could call them the “bear” necessities. Healthy teeth are pretty important when you’re a 423-pound black bear that eats seven pounds of food every day. So when Northwest Trek Wildlife Park veterinarian Dr. Allison Case saw that Benton, one of the park’s two black bears, had a fracture in an upper canine, she decided it was time for a root canal. Just a little bare “During his regular physical check-up last month, I had the opportunity to closely examine his upper left canine and the root exposure,” Case said. “It’s a significant tooth, and we want to protect it …

Conservation

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Jul 10, 2019

You could see 500 bats – or you could see three. Either way, every one of the 49 Northwest Trek staff, interns and volunteers that gathered for the twilight Bat Counts on June 28 and July 5 was vital. Armed with data sheets, click counters and plenty of comfy chairs, the bat counters were helping the wildlife park study its native population of bats – a study that in turn is crucial to helping scientists better understand and protect these tiny mammals. Plus, it’s becoming a Trek tradition. Bat Spotting “Is that –?!” “No, it’s a bird.” I slumped back …

Jun 28, 2019

Forget the ugly duckling. These cygnets are only a week old, and already beautiful. But the six baby swans, which hatched early June at Northwest Trek, aren’t just pint-sized bundles of fluffy gray cuteness. They’re part of a success story for trumpeter swans in North America, helping the species flourish in the wild. “This year we had six cygnets, which is more than we’ve had in years,” said curator Marc Heinzman. “It’s great to see such a healthy population here.” Paired for life, breeding for the future The new cygnets were hatched to the wildlife park’s breeding pair of swans, …

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 …

People

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Jul 17, 2019

“I love working here. It’s a unique place, and I love the challenges that come with it.” – Dave Meadows, Free-Roaming Area keeper, Northwest Trek 8am Dave Meadows 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 keepers. …

Jul 08, 2019

“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 Mello, Wetlands keeper, Northwest Trek 7:30am Wendi Mello 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 Mello, that’s all part of the job. As one of the keepers in the Forest/Wetlands habitat, she cares for otters, beavers, …

Jul 02, 2019

“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 Withers, carnivore keeper, Northwest Trek 10:30am Haley Withers is 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 …

Jun 18, 2019

For Northwest Trek guests, the Keeper Adventure Tour through the Free-Roaming Area is a mix of off-road thrills and up-close animals. But for keeper Deanna Edwards, it’s a way to share a passion for wildlife – combined with friendliness, unflagging animal care and some serious driving skills. “I’m always doing new things, like this track here,” she says, gunning the tour jeep up a muddy track into a perfect three-point-turn. “That’s one of the great things about the Free-Roaming Area. I’m also in keeper mode, playing Where’s Waldo with the animals and making sure they’re all okay. But what I …

Tours

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Jun 18, 2019

For Northwest Trek guests, the Keeper Adventure Tour through the Free-Roaming Area is a mix of off-road thrills and up-close animals. But for keeper Deanna Edwards, it’s a way to share a passion for wildlife – combined with friendliness, unflagging animal care and some serious driving skills. “I’m always doing new things, like this track here,” she says, gunning the tour jeep up a muddy track into a perfect three-point-turn. “That’s one of the great things about the Free-Roaming Area. I’m also in keeper mode, playing Where’s Waldo with the animals and making sure they’re all okay. But what I …

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 …