Rogue the reindeer is ready to take the reins

December 20, 2011

Rogue, Cougar Mountain Zoo’s 5-month-old reindeer, looks through a window checking out visitors to Santa’s house during the Reindeer Festival this month. By Greg Farrar

He may be only 5 months old, but he already weighs 84 pounds and is about three and half feet tall at his shoulders.

Especially as this is the holiday time of year, he has made numerous personal appearances at Christmas tree lightings and similar events, said Robyn Barfoot, general curator of the Cougar Mountain Zoological Park.

The toddler in question, however, probably is not going to be caught sitting on Santa’s lap.

Instead, Rogue the reindeer already is harness trained and ready to help pull Santa’s sleigh, Barfoot said.

“Santa likes to refer to him as ‘Blitzen,’” Barfoot added.

Rogue even already has his own Christmas song. The private Cougar Mountain Academy is near the zoo. Teachers and children there have come up with a version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” using Rogue’s name, Barfoot said.

Read more

American Kennel Club judge is suspect in ‘animal hoarding’ case

December 6, 2011

The suspect in a case investigators described as “animal hoarding” is a judge for the American Kennel Club, a prestigious registry of purebred dogs.

Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue organization in Seattle, released the information Nov. 30, as the investigation continues into dogs discovered living in filthy conditions in Issaquah and Burien homes.

King County animal control officers seized 62 dogs from a Cougar Mountain home in Issaquah and 38 more from a Burien home in early October.

Read more

Cougar Mountain Zoo hosts 23rd annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival

November 29, 2011

One of Santa’s sled-propulsion units walks about for exercise before Christmas Eve last year in the front yard of Santa’s House at Cougar Mountain Zoo. By Greg Farrar

First held in 1988, the annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival runs Dec. 1-23 at the Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said the event regularly attracts up to 10,000 visitors. Some travel relatively long distances to make it to the festival, even coming from well east of the Cascades.

“It’s a family tradition for many people,” Barfoot said.

Although the zoo is technically closed for the season, 10 of Santa’s reindeer team will be ready and awaiting visitors daily.

At the Magic Forest, visitors can hand feed the South American reindeer. And among numerous other activities, kids and parents also can visit Santa in his house and get a picture with the jolly old elf.

Visitors can also listen to stories read by an elf, see Santa’s sleigh, shop and pick up hot drinks and snacks. The younger set also can write a letter to Santa and then place it in his personal mailbox.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Santa will take a lunch break roughly from 1-1:30 p.m. daily. Pictures with Santa are $15 for the first shot and $10 for additional shots. You can take your own pictures for a fee.

Read more

Issaquah businesses target tourists for attractions, events

October 25, 2011

Issaquah leaders often describe local qualities as treasures — a quaint downtown, mountain panoramas, historic buildings and more.

Local businesspeople describe such attractions as “tourism assets” all set for out-of-town guests to enjoy and, in the process, spend dollars in hotels and restaurants.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce officials gathered representatives from local “tourism assets” Oct. 18 to discuss successes and opportunities to lure more tourists to the area.

Leaders from artEAST, Cougar Mountain Zoo, Village Theatre, and other Issaquah attractions and events, said attendance is strong, but sometimes people overlook local offerings.

“Tastin’ N Racin’ — unfortunately — is Issaquah’s best-kept secret,” event organizer Craig Cooke said. “Nationally, it’s not. There are events in 13 other states that have all called and patterned their event on what goes on on land and what goes on in water.”

Tastin’ N Racin’ attracts 20,000 people — and sometimes up to 50,000 — to Lake Sammamish State Park each June for hydroplane races and onshore offerings.

Other long-established attractions face a similar challenge in luring potential tourists.

Read more

Cruise passengers urged to explore beyond Seattle

October 25, 2011

From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, Seattle has plenty to offer its guests, but the Washington Tourism Alliance and the Port of Seattle are encouraging cruise ship tourists to explore beyond the predictable city limits. They are hoping tourists will venture into the suburban and rural areas outside of Seattle, including Issaquah.

“It’s really about what can you offer as an attractive package as an add-on to the cruise purchase,” said Dan Trimble, then-economic development manager for the city of Issaquah. “We’re pretty fortunate here to have several things that can be easily compartmentalized to those packages.”

Bill Bryant

From the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Cougar Mountain Zoo, to outdoor opportunities and shopping districts, Issaquah has plenty to offer its tourists, Trimble said.

This is part of a plan carried out by the newly established Washington Tourism Alliance, which is working along with the Port of Seattle and other tourism agencies to let people know about the tourist opportunities that exist outside of Seattle.

“The cruise ship (industry) brings about $400 million to King County and the region, and that’s because the passengers are staying one to two nights in the area. But most of them are spending that time in downtown Seattle,” Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant said.

He said he hopes the cruise ship tourists extend their stay and explore the surrounding areas, “whether that is wineries in Woodinville or going out to Snoqualmie Falls.”

The state Legislature recently cut funding for the state tourism office.

In its place, various stakeholders including the port, some of the hotel associations and some of the restaurant associations have established the WTA to serve as a vehicle for communities to reach out to tourists, Bryant said.

Read more

Police seize 62 dogs from home in ‘animal hoarding’ case

October 11, 2011

King County animal control officers seized 62 dogs from a Cougar Mountain home in Issaquah — and 38 more from a Burien home — Oct. 6 in a case investigators described as “animal hoarding.”

Kristina Tsai bathes a dog Oct. 7 at a King County animal shelter after it was seized during an "animal hoarding" investigation Oct. 6. By Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times

In a raid on the Burien house, King County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Regional Animal Services of King County officers discovered 38 ill Chihuahua, Japanese Chin and Pomeranian dogs in dirty crates. Then, investigators searched a house in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Veterinarians later euthanized nine dogs from the Burien house due to poor health. The day after the raids, veterinarians euthanized another dog due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Investigators said the animals from the Issaquah house appeared to be in good health and housed in clean crates, although the condition of the house prompted animal control officers to take the dogs into custody.

Read more

Cougar cub is recovering after surgery to correct birth defect

August 23, 2011

Veterinary nurses Tina Branham (left) and Katie Mazuti with Tasha in the center, move about the operating room prior to the cougar’s surgery. Contributed

After undergoing surgery at a clinic in Kirkland, Issaquah’s Tasha, a 3-month-old baby cougar, is back home at the Cougar Mountain Zoo and, according to zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot, is doing very well.

Tasha underwent surgery Aug. 17 to repair a congenital defect that was preventing her from eating solid foods.

“She’s running around and purring,” Barfoot said just two days after the surgery. “Actually, she’s purring an awful lot … She doesn’t seem fazed by any of this at all.”

Veterinarian Michael Mison led Tasha’s surgery at Seattle Veterinary Specialists.

“There were no complications during surgery,” Mison said. “I’m happy to report that Tasha is recovering nicely. We expect her to have a long and healthy life.”

SVS veterinarians diagnosed Tasha with what’s termed a vascular ring anomaly or defect on Aug. 10. Barfoot said keepers had noticed Tasha wasn’t keeping down much food, but at first attributed her vomiting to rough play. Normally, Tasha lives with two other cougar cubs. When Tasha’s problem persisted, Barfoot said zoo officials took her for tests at SVS where vets diagnosed the vascular defect.

According to information released by the clinic, vascular ring anomalies form before an animal is born when embryonic blood vessels develop abnormally.

Read more

Cougar cub recovering after surgery to correct birth defect

August 18, 2011

NEW – 4:15 p.m. Aug. 18, 2011

After undergoing special surgery at a clinic in Kirkland, Tasha, a 3-month old cougar cub is scheduled to be back home soon at the Cougar Mountain Zoo and is reportedly doing fine.

Tasha underwent the surgery to repair a congenital defect that was preventing her from eating solid foods.

“There were no complications during surgery,” said Michael Mison, who led the surgery team at Seattle Veterinary Specialists. “I’m happy to report that Tasha is recovering nicely. We expect her to have a long and healthy life.”

SVS veterinarians diagnosed Tasha with what’s termed a vascular ring anomaly or defect on Aug. 10.

According to information released by the clinic, vascular ring anomalies form before an animal is born when embryonic blood vessels develop abnormally.

Read more

Biodiesel blaze destroys Cougar Mountain home

August 2, 2011

Fire roared through a Cougar Mountain home early July 31 after a backyard biodiesel kit started the blaze.

Just after 6 a.m., neighbors reported flames and smoke shooting from a house in the 17000 block of Southeast 60th Street, a tree-lined neighborhood between Cougar Mountain Zoo and Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

Firefighters converged on the home, and discovered barrels and other equipment used to manufacture biodiesel in the backyard. Investigators later pinpointed the biodiesel setup as the cause of the fire.

“The fire began in the middle of that process, outside of the home, and came into the home from there,” said Lt. Troy Donlin, a Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

Flames roared through the ground floor and damaged the attic. The basement sustained water damage as firefighters extinguished the blaze. Donlin estimated the total damage at $400,000.

Read more

Fire from biodiesel kit destroys Cougar Mountain home early Sunday

July 31, 2011

NEW — 1:15 p.m. July 31, 2011

Fire roared through a Cougar Mountain home early Sunday morning after a backyard biodiesel kit started the blaze.

Just after 6 a.m. Sunday, neighbors reported  flames and smoke shooting from a house in the 17000 block of Southeast 60th Street, a tree-lined neighborhood between Cougar Mountain Zoo and Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

Firefighters discovered barrels and other equipment used to manufacture biodiesel behind the home. Investigators later determined the biodiesel kit started the fire.

“The fire began in the middle of that process, outside of the home, and came into the home from there,” said Lt. Troy Donlin, a Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »