How much does a hippo weigh?

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

SEATTLE – Is losing some extra pounds a New Year’s resolution for you? Woodland Park Zoo carefully monitors the weight of its animals and has acquired a new scale to weigh its hippos. Here’s your chance to guess the weight of the graceful 33-year-old Water Lily and 12-year-old Guadalupe, and win the opportunity to meet the hippos up close.

Washington residents are invited to guess the COMBINED WEIGHT of both hippos. The entry forms can be found online at and will be accepted through midnight, January 27, 2012. The winning entry will be the closest to the combined weight.

The prize for the winning entry will be: a meet ‘n’ greet with the zoo’s hippos behind the scenes in the hippo barn, a 4-gallon bucket of Zoo Doo, six single-day passes to the zoo, and a ZooParent hippo adoption with a hippo plush toy.

To be eligible for the entrants must be legal Washington state residents and 18 or older, or have guardian approval. Employees and volunteers of Woodland Park Zoo and members of immediate family are not eligible to participate and win.

A weight-monitoring program is important to help ensure the health of the animals at Woodland Park Zoo and is a part of the zoo’s exemplary animal care program.

“The new scale allows us the ability to get an accurate weight on these giant pachyderms and modify their diets if necessary,” said Pat Owen, a collection manager at the zoo. “Our zookeepers have been working diligently to train the girls to step on the scale and hold still for a weight. While most folks balk at hopping on a scale, our hippos can’t read the numbers so the weigh-in shouldn’t be too embarrassing for them,” joked Owen.

Water Lily was born at Houston Zoo and has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 1979. Lupe arrived in 2003 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Visitors can enjoy viewing the hippos at the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna where they are often in or near the pool or eating browse on the beach area. Other animals in the African Savanna include giraffe, zebra, ostrich and lions.

Hippos live in western, central, eastern and southern parts of Africa, and are one of the most iconographic species on the African savanna. Excellent swimmers, they prefer to amble along the bottom of slow-moving or stagnant water. An adult hippo can stay under water for up to five minutes.

Hippopotamuses are listed as a vulnerable species, primarily because humans have excessively hunted hippos for their meat, fat, ivory teeth and hides.

Zoo winter hours through April 30: 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily. Admission fees through April 30: Adult (13-64) $11.75; Child (3-12) $8.50. Free for children 2 and under year round.  Active and retired U.S. military and their families, seniors and people with physical disabilities receive an admission discount. Zoo members receive free zoo admission year round. Parking: $5.25. Parking is limited. Consider taking the bus, biking, walking or carpooling. Conserving resources is one more way to help animals. For bus service to the zoo, visit: more information or to become a zoo member, call ( (206) 548.2500 or visit

Festival celebrates the return of the bald eagle

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Numerous events will be held this month to celebrate the return of the bald eagle to the Skagit Valley. Courtesy photo.
Bald eagles are making their annual return to the Skagit Valley this month and to mark this notable occurrence, the Concrete Chamber of Commerce will once again hold its Skagit Eagle Festival.

This is the 24th year for the festival and the second year in its new four-weekend format, offering a wide range of recreation, education and entertainment options throughout the month of January.

“Until 2010, this festival was a two-day event held mostly at the local high school, where performances and presentations were offered along with bus trips to the eagle-watching locations,” explains Valerie Stafford, president of the Concrete Chamber of Commerce. “The volunteers behind that event dropped it in 2009 and the Concrete Chamber picked it up in 2010, turning it into a month-long celebration with more variety and covering a larger portion of eastern Skagit County. Instead of squeezing so many people into one location on one weekend, we give them the option of making their own schedule and attending only the activities they’re most interested in. In this way, they can design their own personalized experiences.”

She adds, “With more smaller venues offering indoor and outdoor activities through the month, this has become a very diverse and dynamic celebration.”

Every Saturday and Sunday in January, visitors can observe eagles at special eagle-watching stations provided by the U.S. Forest Service and staffed by trained volunteers.

Stafford notes that the number of eagles to be seen varies greatly, depending on many factors such as the water level of the river and the weather conditions, but she emphasizes that through the end of January is the period of time when the biggest population is in the area.

Some of the most popular activities associated with the festival are river rafting and float trips along the Skagit River. There are also fish hatchery tours to learn about the salmon that attract the eagles to the area each year.

Families will enjoy the free hayrides at a historic family-owned ranch and free admission to the Concrete Heritage Museum, where the history of the upper Skagit Valley is on display, with a focus on the logging and cement industries. And for those seeking cultural and historical information about eagles, there will be guided walks and lectures given by the knowledgeable folks at the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center in Rockport.

Throughout the month, numerous one-time special events are also planned, including photography workshops and wildlife presentations at the historic Concrete Theatre, Native American dancing, drumming and crafts at the Marblemount Community Hall, book and bake sales, a fundraising chili feed and a unique art walk and contest featuring hand-crafted artwork made exclusively from recycled items.

New this year is Puget Sound Energy Day in Concrete on Saturday, January 21st, during which the utility company will offer presentations and performances at its facility.

The newly-designed celebration is a collaboration of dozens of agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations in eastern Skagit County, who invite visitors from all over the region to experience the natural beauty of the area and enjoy the friendly, small-town environment.

Stafford says, “The number of visitors has increased steadily over the years, with many families planning their winter vacations around the arrival of the eagles. We see a lot of people from the Seattle/Tacoma area, since it’s a fairly easy drive from there and an affordable day trip.” She adds, “I think the event is popular because it’s such a unique experience to see so many of these majestic birds all at once. And the winter weather adds a rugged kind of charm to it. You bundle up and trek along the river or through the trees and are rewarded by spotting these incredible birds. In the process, you learn from the experts about the river, salmon and all kinds of wildlife, as well as environmental issues.”

For more information about the event, visit or call the Concrete Chamber of Commerce at 360-853-8784.

Woodinville man is Big Climb honoree

  • Written by Deborah Stone
This year's Big Climb honoree is 21-year-old Curran Parker of Woodinville. Courtesy photo.
The Big Climb is a favorite Seattle event and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s WA/AK Chapter’s largest fundraiser.

In 2011, 6,000 people climbed the stairs at the Columbia Center, the state’s tallest skyscraper, and raised $1.6 million.

The 69-flight course has 1,311 steps, 19 steps per flights, and 788 feet of vertical elevation.

This popular area event encourages participants to be active, while applying their efforts to a greater cause. Not only do entrants get a challenging workout, but they also get the opportunity to support a worthwhile organization.

All funds raised through the Big Climb go towards the society’s mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

Since its inception in 1949, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has invested more than $750 million in research, which has helped contribute to the remarkable progress made in treating individuals with these diseases.

Survival rates for blood cancers have doubled or tripled and in some cases quadrupled over the years.

Unfortunately, there are still more than one million North Americans battling such cancers and the rate of diagnosis is every four minutes.

2012 marks the 26th year for the Big Climb.

The event will be held on March 25 and this year’s honoree is 21-year-old Curran Parker of Woodinville.

“We met Curran in 2011 through his team Climbing for Curry, which raised a whopping $16,000,” says Anne Christine Cochran, senior campaign manager for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s WA/AK Chapter.

“He is an inspiring individual with an amazing story of strength, courage, hope and survival.”

Parker, a 2008 Bothell High grad and current Cascadia Community College student, was working at the Melting Pot in May 2010 when he discovered a lump on his neck.

He underwent a biopsy and a scan and then came the bad news.

“I was told I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” says Parker. “I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked. I had been in perfect health and it seemed so surreal that I would have cancer. I was 20 years old. How could I have cancer?”

Though he was upset, Parker felt better once he learned that the disease was 90 percent treatable the first time around.

He felt confident he would be OK.

But, after four months of chemo, the lump came back and he had to embark on another cycle of chemo that was more potent than the first, with harsher side effects.

“I lost my hair and dropped 10 pounds,” he explains, “and I felt nauseous most of the time. Unfortunately, the cancer still didn’t go away. And now I had only a 20 percent chance.”

Parker was sent to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where he subsequently underwent another treatment protocol followed by a stem cell transplant.

Because the procedure wasn’t entirely successful, he was then given a form of chemo that he describes as the most intense of all treatments.

“It was really, really harsh,” comments Parker. “I lost 25 pounds and had to stay in the hospital for 12 days. I had no strength and could barely walk.”

Thirty days after the treatment and a second stem cell transplant, the words “cancer free” were finally uttered.

“It was so great to hear the news,” says Parker. “I felt like I had been through a war, a battle, and had come out victorious.”

Though there were times when the young man felt depressed and discouraged during his ordeal, he pushed himself to keep going, finding an inner strength to make it through one step at a time.

Initially, he was angry and questioned why such a bad thing was happening to him at this time in his life.

Anger eventually gave way to determination and an unwavering attitude of optimism and hope.

“The key for me was to be positive and to have faith that I was going to make it,” explains Parker. “I was lucky to have my family, friends and church support me. They stayed strong for me and gave me encouragement.”

Parker feels privileged to be the Big Climb’s honoree and expresses his appreciation for the opportunity to instill hope in others who are fighting blood cancers.

He adds, “I am a living example that faith and a positive attitude, combined with the right treatment, can make all the difference. It’s so important that the research continues to find better treatments and cures. And the only way that’s going to happen is with funding.”

As the honoree, Parker is giving speeches at various events, telling his story, and urging others to help support the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“This is a cause I will be involved with for the rest of my life,” he notes. “And I will do everything I can to be a source of inspiration to others.”

Though there is a risk that the cancer will return in the future, Parker refuses to live under a shadow.

“That’s not me,” he says. “I have too much I want to do in my life and I plan to live it to its fullest. I don’t want to spend my time worrying about something that may or may not happen.”

Pet therapy program proves popular at Camp Korey

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Camp Korey with Bentley
Courtesy photo.
Camp Korey serves hundreds of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses each year during its summer camp sessions at Carnation Farm.

Campers, who range in age from 7 to 15, are able to safely enjoy all the traditional camp activities, with the addition of full medical support and adaptive methods.

Participants choose the extent of their involvement depending on their appropriate level of challenge, which allows them the opportunity to try new activities in a fun-filled and positive environment.

Named For Korey Rose, a teen who lost his battle with bone cancer at 18, Camp Korey was founded in 2005 by Rose’s father, Tim.

The goal was to create a safe haven for other families dealing with childhood illness and serious medical conditions.

At Camp Korey, campers spend time with other kids coping with similar conditions and they quickly realize that they are not alone.

During their stay, these children, who have spent much of their lives in doctors’ offices and hospitals, are transformed into “just kids,” who get to swim, fish, go boating, ride a horse, enjoy arts and crafts, try climbing an indoor climbing wall and more.

One of the more unique and popular activities offered at the camp is the pet therapy program.

Now in its fifth year, the program is viewed as a valuable addition to the camp’s therapeutic milieu.

CK Matthew
Courtesy photo
“It’s truly a special opportunity for these kids,” says Camp Director Cora Weed. “They get the chance to work closely with animals, to groom them, take them for a walk, or simply interact with them in a safe and therapeutic way.”

She adds, “The animals, typically dogs and a llama, offer comfort and support and the kids just love them.

“The program allows them to be in charge, to have a more maternal or caring role, which is so different for them, as they’re used to being taken care of in their daily lives.”

Diane Rich, coordinator for the program, explains that the kids can also choose to simply “chill out” with the animals, which will lie quietly next to them.

“They don’t demand anything from the children,” she says. “They’re nonjudgmental. And because of this, the kids take comfort from them, knowing they are accepted just the way they are.”

Rich notes that the animals have a wonderful calming effect on the campers. They have also been known to boost a child’s confidence and elicit speech from the very shy participants.

She adds, “I’ve seen children who are basically nonverbal have this incredible reaction when they’re next to the animals. They seem to come alive when they’re allowed to interact with them. It’s amazing.”

Each animal has a handler and together they make up a team.

All teams must be registered with either the Delta Society, Therapy Dogs International or Therapy Dogs Inc.

Rich personally vets the teams, conducting assessments and interviews to determine if they will be the right fit for the program.

She explains that there isn’t one specific breed that makes a good therapy dog.

In the past, she has had teams with Saint Bernards, golden retrievers, pugs, bulldogs, English pointers, cavaliers and even a doberman.

As for the llamas, Rich says, “They’ve been phenomenal. They’re so calm and basically bomb-proof. Nothing bothers them. They’re better behaved than many dogs. They don’t spit either. These are not the norm though. They have the right personality and they’ve been well trained.”

The program has had many repeat teams, who enjoy volunteering each summer. They do it, according to Rich, because they love the experience.

“It’s beyond rewarding,” she explains. “It’s magical to be out there in this beautiful, pastoral setting, and being able to witness a child’s smile when he/she interacts with your animal.

‘It makes your heart smile in return. The experience just fills your heart. And not to sound corny, but it truly completes you.”

Camp Korey is searching for new therapy teams (pets and their owners) to participate in the pet therapy program this coming summer.

All teams must be registered with Delta Society, Therapy Dogs international or Therapy Dogs Inc. and go through an interview process with Diane Rich.

For those teams not yet registered with one of the three organizations, Diane Rich is happy to do an assessment of the team’s potential for therapy service.

If training is needed to help prepare for the therapy testing, Diane provides either private training or a therapy prep class to help ready a team to perform the required skills and aptitude exercises to pass the test.

If the team is ready for testing, Diane is happy to recommend evaluators.

For more information, contact Diane Rich at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Friendly, personal service, good food are keys to success of Twisted Café

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Twisted Cafe 004
The Twisted Café was voted Best Sandwich Shop in Woodinville. Photo by Deborah Stone.
Julio Ortiz is one happy man.

Recently, his restaurant, The Twisted Café, was voted sixth best sandwich shop in KING 5’s Best of Western Washington contest.

The café competed against 164 other establishments in the Cheap Eats Sandwich Shop category.

It was also voted Best Sandwich Shop in Woodinville.

“This was our first year to compete,” says Ortiz, “and we are very excited with the outcome and so grateful for the support of our customers, who voted for us.”

The Woodinville man, who has owned The Twisted Café for three years with his wife Julie, attributes his success to a combination of friendly, personal service and good food.

The café specializes in hot and cold sandwiches on freshly baked twisted bread, along with a variety of fresh salads and homemade soups.

One of the most popular sandwiches is the Twisted Cuban with its slow roasted pork, ham, pickles and Swiss cheese.

“People love it,” says Ortiz. “I’m told it rivals Paseo’s Cuban Roast. We roast our own beef and pork on site, which I think really makes the difference.”

The Woodinville man is originally from Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. 12 years ago.

Before he came to this area, he worked in New York, where he managed hotel restaurants.

He and his wife bought The Twisted Sandwich in Woodinville and changed the name of the establishment to better reflect the type of place they wanted to create.

“It’s a café now and we serve beer and wine,” explains Ortiz. “We’re also offering live music on Friday nights from 7 – 11 p.m. I want to help promote local musicians, who are looking for somewhere to play. It’ll be some jazz, some blues and some Latin stuff, vocals and instrumentals.” Ortiz adds, “There isn’t a lot of music in Woodinville other than at Big Daddy’s and that’s more bands and rock music.

“There’s a need for something more low key and very casual, where you can come, have a glass of wine and a meal for less than $20 and get a chance to listen to some live music. It’s an affordable night out.”

Ortiz is also planning on ramping up the catering side of his business. He hopes to branch out and market his services to local companies and offices, as well as do private events and parties at his café.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to grow the business,” he adds. “But, it’s important that I do it right.”

The Twisted Café is located at 12631 NE Woodinville Drive. For more information: