The Jaguar Cubs Celebrate Their First Birthday at Woodland Park Zoo

jaguar cubs' birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith of
The cubs stroll in and check out their Happy Birthday sign.

Yesterday Woodland Park Zoo celebrated the jaguar triplets’ first birthday in fine style. They were given beautiful handmade papier-mache turtles scented with their favorite things. I’ve taken a pile of pictures of Arizona, Inka and Kuwan, so I’m going to share just a few here.

Thank you to all the zoo staff and volunteers that made this event happen and who care for these entrancing animals!

jaguar cub birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r smith
The siblings stroll into their newly decorated exhibit.
jaguar cub birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r smith
Those turtles sure smell interesting! They were treated with spices and perfume.
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r smith
My house cat gets this look on his face when he’s playing, too.
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith
Just look at those beauties!
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith
Taking a break from the cardboard carnage.
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith
The best present is one your sibling is already opening.
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith
Hello, gorgeous!
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth r. smith
Om nom nom nom!
jaguar birthday at WPZ by elizabeth R. smith
Two-and-a-half hours in, the cubs are ready to take a break.

Thanks for taking a look! The cubs are full grown and will soon be moving off to other zoos. Kuwan, the male, will be going up to Canada, and as far as I know destinations are still being worked out for the sisters. I’m sure they’ll be loved wherever they go. We’ll miss all of the cubs! It was wonderful to have this chance to celebrate with them.

Woodland Park Zoo Residents: the Siamangs

posted in: Mammals, Vertebrates | 0
Briony and Simon
Briony and Simon, siamangs at Woodland Park Zoo, duetting in the treetops

The more I visit the zoo the more I get to know the residents. Woodland Park has a knowledgeable staff of employees and volunteers who are happy to answer questions about the animals and the zoo itself and I take full advantage of their willingness to talk. In this post I’m sharing a bit that I’ve learned about the zoo’s siamang pair.

Siamangs (SEE-uh-mangs) are a type of gibbon from Sumatra and Malaysia. The zoo’s current pair, Simon and Briony, are each about 34 years old: fairly old for siamangs, even in captivity. Simon has had some health problems but pulled through, gently nursed by Briony and the zoo staff. He’s particularly fond of shiny, colorful things, and will head over to the window of his exhibit to investigate little treasures brought by a familiar human. He has at least one regular visitor who brings things for show and tell (in addition to the enrichment provided by zoo staff).

Simon, a siamang at Woodland Park Zoo

If you visit the zoo at the right time of day (or even just happen to be within a couple miles) you’ll be treated to the siamangs’ calls. I think of it as singing, but it’s really a wide assortment of hoots, barks and whinnies. The pair swing from the branches of one of the tall trees in their outdoor area and call in an amazing duet. The sounds aren’t random, but are in a complex pattern particular to that siamang pair. They each have a pouch of skin under their chin called a gular sac which inflates to improve the resonance of their calls. The visual of them swinging and hooting with their puffed up gular sacs is very impressive!

Briony, a siamang at Woodland Park Zoo

When they aren’t outside hooting from the treetops Briony and Simon like to relax. They have both indoor and outdoor exhibit areas filled with branches and ropes and plants for resting spots. It appears that they have the option of resting out of view, too, if they need a break from the people. Like many of the apes, though, Briony and Simon appear content to observe the observers.

Woodland Park Zoo Blog: Roses a sweet treat for gorillas

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Yellow Rose
From the Woodland Park Zoo Rose Garden

I’m a big fan of Woodland Park Zoo, my local zoo here in Seattle. The organization emphasizes animal conservation and the exhibits regularly undergo upgrades to improve the experiences of the animals. I frequently go there to take photographs of the inhabitants.

A recent zoo blog post, Roses A Sweet Treat For Gorillas, describes in words and pictures just one way the zookeepers keep things interesting for the animals. Read to the end and you’ll see Nina and Pete having a pleasant sunny snack together!

Heron at the Rose Garden

Great blue heron eating a goldfish
This great blue heron just caught a nice snack.

I was at the zoo for an auction related appointment yesterday. On my way out I decided to take a short stroll through the adjacent rose garden to snap a few pictures. I was trying to get a good angle on a little lily pond when I realized a great blue heron was standing on the edge just a few feet from me, partially hidden by plants. That heron hung around for about fifteen minutes circumnavigating the pool and looking for fish. It eventually snapped up this goldfish, shook out its feathers and flew off toward the zoo.

Heron walking around a lily pond
Taking a stroll

Here’s the heron strutting around the pool and giving me a very serious look.

Great blue heron poised to grab a fish from a pool
Moments before it snatched the fish

Here it is in a classic heron pose.

Great blue heron with fluffed out feathers
The heron shakes out its feathers

And here it is looking decidedly disheveled. I’m a sucker for anything fluffy (except mold) so I love that the heron took a moment to ruffle up its feathers before leaving!



Work In Progress: Pete Three

posted in: Mammals, Vertebrates, WIP | 0
A work in progress: Pete, gorilla patriarch
Gorilla patriarch Pete, still in progress.

Pete’s not done yet, but I’m optimistic that I’ll have the drawing done by Thursday’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful reception so he’ll be in my portfolio. I lost a little bit of the shape of his lower lip somewhere along the way so I’m going to be double checking the drawing in that area when I start work on it next.

Jaguar Cubs at the Zoo

posted in: Mammals, Vertebrates | 0
Jaguar Cub
This jaguar cub flopped down in the hay and took a good look at everyone on the other side of the glass.

Woodland Park Zoo’s jaguar cubs made their official debut yesterday, and today I went to see them. They are adorable, of course. All three snoozed for a while first, then got to work attacking each other, their mom, sticks, and anything else of interest.

Jaguar Cub Attacking Its Mom
This jaguar mom does not look entirely pleased that the youngster has pounced on her back.

It’s difficult to take pictures through glass. Reflections obscure the view and the thick glass gives everything a green tinge. I’ve made an assortment of color and contract adjustments to get these images closer to what I saw live. I’ve been looking forward to drawing or painting these cubs and I’ll be using my photos for reference. I may go back to the zoo with watercolor or colored pencils to work on getting a more accurate sense of the color so that when I paint them I’ll get it right. I’ll still be limited to looking at them through glass, but the colors won’t be filtered by the camera.

It’s delightful to have so many youngsters at the zoo this year. The snow leopard cubs are looking pretty grown up, but we’ve also got lion cubs, jaguar cubs, sloth bear cubs, Asian small-clawed otter pups, a tree kangaroo joey, and at least one more youngster on the way that I know of. It’s particularly exciting to see endangered species get a few more individuals. I want future generations to live in a world with all these glorious animals, too!

Work in Progress: Pete Two

posted in: Mammals, WIP | 0
Pete, partially finished, with pencil
Pete, Western Lowland Gorilla, coming along in graphite

I’ve spent more time lately trying to sort out business stuff than drawing, and I’m a little sad about that. There’s a reason I went into art rather than business, but I understand being an artist does require a bit of each.  I’ve finally gotten back to drawing and made more progress on Pete. Here he is, somewhat updated. I’ve been intensifying the shadows in his face and starting to get the hair growth pattern established on his arms and head.