Dear Friend of the Zoo,

Whether you’re a member, donor, visitor, volunteer, community partner or sponsor, your steady support is advancing Woodland Park Zoo to a new chapter in its storied history. As each story in this 2017 Impact Report illustrates, your effect on this iconic zoo’s evolution is palpable. These pages speak to the incredibly high value you place on our multifaceted role.

As urbanization intensifies, families yearn even more to connect with nature and animals. In fostering those connections, we must engage the full range of diverse perspectives and interests in our region. Thanks to generous donors and residents of Seattle and King County, last year we reached more diverse families through extraordinary zoo experiences and helped more underserved youth explore career paths in science and conservation. Our plan to double such access in 2018 is solid, as we continue to build a welcoming and inclusive zoo for all.

The report also highlights our commitment to unite leading technology innovators with our conservation scientists to save more animals and habitats. From co-designing GPS-enabled critter collars for saving tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea, to engineering efficient scent-lure devices to study the elusive Northwest wolverine, to smart tools for protecting Malayan tigers from poachers—your zoo is a go-to source for breakthrough solutions for wildlife.

But we know we must do more. Much more. Extremely few of the world’s landscapes and marine habitats are untouched by human hands. In reality, all wildlife and wild places are now in human care. The biggest ethical question for humanity is whether we will choose to live sustainably on this planet with all its creatures. Over the course of 2017, we asked ourselves: what more can we, as a modern conservation zoo, do to rise up to this challenge?

For insights, we turned to you and invited more than 80,000 people from all over the region, U.S. and globe to join a conversation about the zoo’s future. It was one of largest outreach efforts in the zoo’s history. More than 6,000 people shared thought-provoking and diverse views in one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys. We felt humbled by your commitment and energized by your ideas.

Your input helped us discern that our highest calling as a zoo is to redefine the relationship between people, our planet, and all its creatures. That’s a tall order! To begin this journey, we adopted a new mission: to save wildlife and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.  And we committed to a bold, new strategy which guides us to marshal the will and creativity of our entire community to ignite a powerful movement for conservation. That is what the world is calling on us to do.

We’re confident that with your support—and that of 1.34 million visitors, 35 million people touched by the zoo’s social media channels, and our vast local and global reach—we can unite all our voices and all our choices to rise up to this challenge, together.

On behalf of the entire zoo, thank you for making conservation a priority in your life.



Alejandro Grajal, PhD
President and CEO

Jeffrey W. Leppo
Chair, Board of Directors


Highlights of a few of the year’s many successes YOU made possible


We're on a New Mission

Last year, Woodland Park Zoo spoke with 6,000 of you about what the future is calling on zoos to do. From members, supporters, businesses, and diverse community groups all over the region and U.S., your message was loud and clear: Save wildlife and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives. Beginning with our 1.34 million guests and a new, five-year strategic plan, we will unite our diverse voices and all our choices into a powerful movement for conservation.

Tapping High Tech to Save Wildlife

A global first for endangered tree kangaroos! In partnership with a Microsoft engineer, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program designed and deployed novel electronic tracking collars which integrate GPS signals, altitude and motion sensors, and Google Earth! Now, even under the thickest cloud forest canopy, richer data travels faster to indigenous community conservation leaders working to ensure these rare marsupials thrive in Papua New Guinea’s 187,000-acre Conservation Area.

Networking for Nature

The zoo launched a new Network for Nature, a rapidly growing group of professionals ages 25 to 45 who bring enormous passion and energy to building a movement for conservation. Through community and corporate connections, the network will strengthen the zoo’s mission by engaging more people to save more animals.





That’s why we took the WIN pledge!

Welcome Inclusion, a grassroots initiative, models inclusion for people of all backgrounds and abilities.


Youth Leaders Earn High Five from Governor

Emerging conservation leaders in the Seattle Youth Climate Action Network play a huge role in our quest to attract new and diverse generations to conservation, and build strong partnerships with communities and public agencies. At the program’s 3rd Annual Summit, Governor Jay Inslee, so inspired by their energy and drive, joined up with the teen leaders to honor their contributions of innovative climate solutions for the great state of Washington.

Zoo for All Ages

“Relaxing,” “comforting,” “peaceful”—the words of our weekly Senior Zoo Walkers bespeak the healing power of animals and nature. Whether they come for exercise, companionship or learning, all find their resilience strengthened by the wonders of the zoo thanks to Seattle Parks and Recreation, Greenwood Senior Center, Momentia Seattle, our Community Access Program, and our 20-year partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington chapter.

A Baby with a Big Job

Seattle’s Tallest Baby earned a huge social media and press following! Our generous community lovingly came together to welcome Lulu (“pearl” in Swahili), born to Tufani on June 20, just in time for World Giraffe Day! She inspires awareness and empathy for the plight of wild giraffes. Extraordinary experiences of her beauty and spunk move people to stick their necks out for wildlife!

Shout out to our Partners for Wildlife, Rimba and Panthera in Peninsular Malaysia, for TURNING THE TIDE ON TIGER POACHING by arresting more poachers and enlarging the protection zone of tiger hotspots, to ensure safer areas for breeding.


Innovation in Animal Care

Laser therapy, massage, even acupuncture—is this rehab? Whatever it takes to help our beloved animals lead healthier, happier lives, we’ll do it! From penguins to red pandas, excellent care means our residents increasingly live well in to their golden years. Your zoo became one of the first in the U.S. to integrate physical rehabilitation into animal wellness care, which reduces the need for invasive procedures.

Zoo Turns a Shade Greener

More than a million guests helped the zoo achieve a milestone for Seattle’s Drive Clean Initiative. With our BMW partner ReachNow, and eluminocity, we inaugurated the city’s first Light & Charge electric vehicle stations. Linked to a smart city network, several zoo parking lot lights now supply visitors with clean transportation energy. The convenient service means that with each “refuel,” guests help fulfill our Sustainable Zoo initiative!