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Northwest Trek Wildlife Park Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 9 Dec 2007.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is located about 1 hour south of Seattle, in the U.S. State of Washington. It is what many would call an open-range zoo, but it caters specifically to North American animals. There are no exotic creatures, but it is a terrific place to visit for those that wish to see naturalistic, spacious enclosures.

    The entire site is over 700 acres (284 hectares) in size, and there is a one hour tram ride that drives through a 400 acre (162 hectare) exhibit. Inside the 400 acres visitors are in an enormous area of forest, meadows, and a large lake. There are herds of bighorn sheep, roosevelt elk, moose, rocky mountain goats, bison, caribou/reindeer, and two species of deer. These animals can be easily spotted, as they tend to stay within their group and thus travel as a herd within the area. It is terrific for photographers, as at times the wildlife is extremely close to the tram and unworried about the noise from visitors.

    There is more to see here than at many other open-range zoos, as a few more hours can then be spent along the 5 miles of walking trails that range through dense forests. There are large exhibits for lynx, bobcat, cougar, red fox, grey wolves, grizzly and black bears. A bird section has bald and golden eagles, as well as at least 4 species of owl. Another group of exhibits contain beavers, fishers, raccoons, badgers, porcupines, skunks and wolverines. The wildlife park has had a lot of success with the wolverines, with a number of kits born over the years...including triplets last summer.

    The decision to only keep North American animals might disappoint people expecting to see exotic creatures from Africa or Asia, but the reality is that the animals at this park have enormous enclosures that are realistic settings of their natural environment. The 400 acre, gated area contains small mountains where the wildlife can hide in the thickly forested hills, and the walk-around exhibits are equally spacious. The entire wildlife park is built in a dense woodland, and the enclosures have literally been built inside the center of a massive forest.
     
  2. CZJimmy

    CZJimmy Well-Known Member

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    That sounds amazing! :)
     
  3. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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  4. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Zooplantman: thanks for the link, and a once a month train ride might be an interesting novelty if it eventually becomes popular. I've been to Northwest Trek twice, and just about every single exhibit is spacious and quite well done. It's a shame that there aren't more visitors to the wildlife park, as it is hidden away in the town of Eatonville. Perhaps this publicity will encourage more people to visit...
     
  5. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it is - as we say in New York - a shlep from Tacoma, but a great park! I really loved having elk browsing a few yards away from the tram and seeing moose up close. It's not the typical zoo since a visitor has to have some patience and look for wildlife in the exhibits. More fun, but not what people seem to want on the whole.
     
  6. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    When I visited here a few years ago, I was blown away - it was much better than I expected! I initially felt it was the best zoological park I had been to and I still feel that way. All of the predator exhibits (bear, puma, wolf, etc) are huge, built in a pre-existing forest with very large trees. Best of all, they each have a lodge for viewing with no fences or glass or wires. Anyone visiting Washington, even people who wouldn't go to a traditional zoo, need to visit Northwest Trek.
     
  7. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Arizona Docent: I wholeheartedly agree with you, and I've been singing the praises of Northwest Trek for a few years now. Many hardcore zoo fans have not even heard of the place, and yet it has a series of spacious, naturalistic enclosures. The tram ride is an hour long and not everyone appreciates the fact that the hoofstock can only really be seen from that tour, but when there is a total of 700 acres (and 400 for the hoofstock) then it would be impossible to walk all day long! This establishment is a hidden gem, and even though there are only 200 North American animals on the property the exhibits are nevertheless outstanding.
     
  8. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Arizona Docent: On this thread I saw this quote from you in regards to Northwest Trek: "the best zoological park I had been to and I still feel that way." Some people prefer more traditional zoos, but I agree that Northwest Trek is indeed a brilliant wildlife park.

    Short Review:

    I visited Northwest Trek last weekend, and I've already posted close to 300 new photos in the ZooChat gallery and there are another 70 or so yet to be uploaded. Just click on the park in the gallery and you will see the most naturalistic enclosures ever created.:) Almost all of the animal exhibits on the walking trail have viewing shelters with zero bars, glass or any other kind of obstructions. Each enclosure is simply a fenced-off section of dense forest, and yet the animals were not difficult to find. I saw 99% of all the species at the entire park, and only the red foxes eluded my peering eyes.

    Highlights? Everything!

    Tram Tour: The 435-acre tram tour is almost an hour long, and there are 7 species of hoofstock that are seen. Woodland caribou, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, rocky mountain goats, blacktail deer and roosevelt elk were all easily seen from the moving tour, and I've uploaded a lot of photos from this massive, gigantic enclosure. I'd visited the park twice before (both times in October) and going a 3rd time (in August) I was shocked to see that every single window on all the trams had been removed for the summer season. I grabbed a window seat and was able to have unobstructed viewing of the multiple herds of animals. On one occasion I could have leaned out and touched a pair of moose!

    Forest Animals: There are huge, incredibly densely planted woodland enclosures for grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, red foxes, lynx, bobcats and mountain lions. Every enclosure is incredibly lush, green and obviously naturalistic as literally large sections of forest are surrounded by often hidden fencing. The bear exhibits make a mockery of the ugly concrete pits that are often found in many major zoos.

    Wetland + Smaller Mammals: A great little area with raccoons, fishers, wolverines, porcupines, beavers, badgers, skunks and river otters. To be honest this area still has great enclosures but is now looking a tad dated. I am a hyper critical visitor of zoos, and while I still have praise for this popular area of the park I feel that the exhibits could be a bit larger. Still better than anything at most other zoos.

    Aviaries: There are golden eagles, bald eagles, great horned owls, barn owls and snowy owls in aviaries near the entrance, and all but the barn owls feature absolutely nothing between the visitor and the birds. The animals are all rescued creatures, thus making it impossible for them to fly.

    Overall:

    A brilliant place for fans of naturalistic, spacious habitats, and the over 200 North American animals here are in great enclosures that are literally their natural environment. The 435-acre area for the tram tour is a thrill, as it passes lakes and meadows, hills, plains and lush forests. The animals have the entire 435 acres to roam, and one never knows what will be spotted in the dense forest or in one of the lakes.

    The walking area is chilly even in summer, as everything is enclosed in a deep, thick forest. I uploaded several photos of the visitor pathways to give an indication as to the sprawling mass of trees that circle the trails. All of the animal exhibits are incredibly green with foliage, but the red foxes were the only single species of the entire visit that I did not see. Those that do not appreciate loads of hiding opportunities in wildlife parks need not worry, as a little bit of patience provides amazing rewards for the visitor.
     
  9. Dan

    Dan Well-Known Member

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    Nice review as always, snowleopard. What a magnificent wildlife park!
     
  10. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    snowleopard,

    Love to go there when I get to Canada in good time!

    It seems the North West Trek is like some of the Scandinavian wildlife parks we come to know in Europe that excel at using their woodland and rough outdoors scenery to great effect in naturalistic animal exhibits (ahurm enclosures).

    Also, the assemblage of species seems to be quite similar .....

    K.B. :cool:
     
  11. kc7gr

    kc7gr Well-Known Member

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    My only gripes...

    I would agree, it's a marvelously well-done park. My only real gripe is it's a nightmare to get to by road, thanks to no freeway and a truly astonishing number of traffic lights, cross-traffic, and (frequently) idiotic drivers. This is probably the biggest reason why my lady and I have only been there once.

    A second minor-class gripe is they should have some sort of educational presentation with at least some of their birds. Perhaps they do, now, but they didn't feature anything of the sort when we were there several years ago.
     
  12. kiang

    kiang Well-Known Member

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  13. Amnesiac

    Amnesiac Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to go there someday!
     
  14. kiang

    kiang Well-Known Member

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  15. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    I didn't read the article, but that makes no sense. They focus exclusively on animals native to the Pacific Northwest and red wolves are native to the Southeast.
     
  16. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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    Northwest Trek is operated by the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, which has been a major player in Red Wolf recovery. For them to house part of the breeding program off exhibit in the large space available at Northwest Trek frankly makes perfect sense.
     
  17. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  18. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Very nice. Not the best I have seen, but a nice clean presentation. (One of my biggest gripes about websites in general - not just zoo ones - is that many are cluttered and hard to navigate.)
     
  19. jusko88

    jusko88 Well-Known Member

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  20. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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