11610 Trek Dr E Eatonville, WA, USA 98328-9502
AZA, North American, accredited, free-roam, native, wildlife
|Anatidae||Cygnus cygnus buccinator||trumpeter swan||4|
|Bovidae||Oreamnos americanus||mountain goat||5|
|Bovidae||Ovis canadensis californiana||California bighorn sheep||25|
|Cervidae||Cervus elaphus roosevelti||Roosevelt elk||30|
|Cervidae||Odocoileus hemionus columbianus||blacktail deer||25|
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, owned by Metro Parks Tacoma, opened to the public in July 1975 to offer the public, especially children, the opportunity to see and learn about native wildlife in a natural setting. The land was donated to Metro Parks Tacoma by Dr. David and Mrs. Connie Hellyer in 1971.
The Free Roaming Area Exhibit located in the heart of the park encompasses 176 hectares of rolling landscape with native forest, meadows, wetlands, ponds, creeks and two lakes. It is enclosed by a 2.5 meter high chainlink perimeter fence with two strands of electric wire on top to keep large predators like the native cougar from climbing in.
Three-unit propane-powered, 90 passenger trams transport park visitors on 55-minute naturalist-narrated tours through the Free Roaming Area where they see and learn about native hoofed animals such as moose, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, deer, caribou, all living freely within the exhibit's meadows, forest and wetlands.
The Free Roaming Area Exhibit encompasses 176 hectares.
Space allocation in square meters:
|use||indoors||outdoors|| total exhibit |
|accessible|| total ||accessible|| total |
$US 500,000 including 5 % for design.
The Free Roaming Area Exhibit was part of the original $2,600,000 cost for the development of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The funds were provided by a public bond issue passed by Metro Parks Tacoma in 1973. Grant Jones and Jon Coe from Jones & Jones Architects and TRA (The Richardson Associates) worked with the park benefactor, Dr. David Hellyer and Metro Parks Tacoma to do most of the design of the initial park structures and exhibits and to lay out the tram route and service roads in the Free Roaming Area Exhibit. Due to the close personal friendship of Dr. Hellyer with Grant Jones and other prominent architects and engineers in the community, much of the planning and design costs were donated in-kind. The actual construction of the park was carried out by a variety of local contractors selected by a public bidding process.
17 July 1975
Beginning: March 1971
- Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design: Jones and Jones, Seattle
- Architecture, Design: TRA, Seattle
Beginning: October 1973
- support structures: Leo Finnegan, Tacoma, WA
- site surveying: Sitts and Hill, Tacoma, WA
- other Trek exhibit construction: CemRock, Tucson, Arizona
| ||This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.|
240 m altitude
11.0 °C mean annual temperature
855 mm mean annual precipitation
All natural, native plants are utilized to better showcase the display of native animals in elements of their natural habitat. All plants are naturally distributed throughout the park in public and animal areas.
The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:
The array of varied and appropriate habitats in the free roaming area offers the various animal species displayed continuous access to elements of their natural environs year round. This natural state of display precludes the need for any artificial structures for shelter or housing. The native animals are simply seen at home in their natural surroundings.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:
Keepers use a designated truck to negotiate the asphalt road system, gravel paths, or to go off-road where appropriate and possible. The truck enables the keeper to deposit pelleted grain and alfalfa hay throughout the Free Roaming Area, transport veterinary teams and immobilized animals, remove excess hay, or pull trailers in and out. There are two catch pens where certain species can be baited at times to allow for manual restraint and handling. A roadway cattle guard at the primary entry gate discourages animals that might attempt to pass through the gate along with vehicles.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:
Tram tours of the Free Roaming Area Exhibit are available, without additional charge, to every visitor paying admission to the park. The trams can be heated. In times of mild weather, the windows of the trams are removed for unobstructed views. During inclement weather, the windows are left in place but are operable.
The naturalist-narrated tours last 55 minutes and take visitors over a 9 kilometer asphalt road system winding through the 176 hectare exhibit. The road was laid out to pass by the animals' favourite spots and the most outstanding viewpoints of the park.
Special photo tours can be booked by those who wish to spend more time in the free roaming area just taking pictures. Special keeper tours allow a small number of guests to accompany the keeper on the back of his truck during his first rounds of the area in early morning.
The tram drivers are all trained naturalists who interpret the wildlife in view, explaining their characteristics and behaviors. This narration is based on a training manual that helps the naturalists connect the observed animals thematically with a number of certain blocks of information that are key biological concepts such as "Herd Behavior", "Solitary Behavior", "Rutting Behavior", etc. in a way that is more educational and retainable than a litany of minutiae such as weight, age, diet, etc.
The free roaming area is managed as a mixed species exhibit with all animals portraying the natural state of native wildlife as closely as possible in terms of herd structure and behavior. Many animals observed by the public on the tram tours are free living wildlife (e.g. waterfowl) which are not managed at all. The principal display species (i.e. cervids and bovids) , with the exception of the deer, are all individually identified and tracked by the keeper on a daily basis to insure they are active, alert, and behaving normally. A park veterinarian implements a nutrition and preventative medicine program, as well as emergency care for critically ill or injured animals. All managed animals are provided a supplemental diet as well as access to natural forage.
Maintenance of all park grounds and facilities are carried out by Trek's in-house maintenance department. Daily monitoring of the charge status of the multiple strands of hot wire facilitates staff abilities to monitor the integrity of the fenceline and to narrow searches for broken or compromised fence to sections that do not register a high electrical charge.
There is no research scientist on staff, but collaboration with university and government researchers in place. Students may submit approved, minimally invasive research protocols that can be accommodated within the existing animal management structure. Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone was tested as an immunocontraceptive in bison, and Porcine Zona Pellucida as an immunocontraceptive agent in various ungulate species. Samples of feces are provided from requested species for use in training scent tracking dogs for field research. Behavioral observations were contributed to multi-institutional studies and university students are allowed to conduct their own observation projects within a tightly restricted framework inside the Free Roaming Area. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park participates in an annual, statewide waterfowl census and reports results to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Free Roaming Area Exhibit tour narration provided by park naturalists addresses the wild status of animal species observed in the exhibit and suggests ways that the public can become more involved in efforts to conserve and protect all native wildlife. The park also provides a "Conservation Awareness" program to all park visitors in the Core Area on a daily basis as a part of its Animal Presentation Program. This program helps interested visitors learn of a number of different ways they can become personally involved in the conservation of native wildlife and their habitats, including a Trek sponsored Citizen Science Program.
Being publically owned and operated by Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park receives input from local citizens who relate their concerns and ideas to the Board of Park Commissioners. Northwest Trek also implements opinion surveys and requests suggestions from park visitors to better serve its guests. Volunteers and interns assist keepers and maintenance staff with the maintenance of perimeter fence, roads and trails in and around the free roaming area.