June 28, 2012
So, you think you know Issaquah? Is the city just another buttoned-up suburb? Nope. Issaquah is home to more than 30,000 people — and more than a century of secrets. Issaquah anecdotes stretch deep into the past and continue into the 21st century. Look beyond the basics to discover tidbits and trivia.
Test your Issaquah IQ. (Scroll to the bottom to check the answers, but please, no cheating!)
May 1, 2012
Beloved cougar cubs Keira, Miksa and Tika turn 1 on May 20 and to celebrate the milestone, Cougar Mountain Zoo is — please, pardon the pun — planning a wild party.
The party doubles as a fundraiser for the zoo, a nonprofit organization, and The Beat, The Issaquah Press’ section by, for and about teenagers. Zoogoers can watch as the curious cubs tear open gifts and dig into special birthday cakes made from meat.
“Cougar cubs love to destroy things, so we are creating special birthday boxes for them to do just that!” zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.
In the months since the cubs arrived at the zoo, Keira, Miksa and Tika grew from tiny tufts of spotted fur into regal big cats.
In addition to supporting the popular cougar exhibit at the zoo, a percentage of all ticket sales benefits The Beat, to help pay for the section’s pages in The Press.
January 24, 2012
The macaws retreated inside to toastier temperatures. The tigers tolerated the cold. The reindeer, unsurprisingly, reveled in the snow.
Though most Issaquah residents experienced a snow day Jan. 18, a major snowstorm did not disrupt the routine for the denizens of Cougar Mountain Zoo.
“The animals don’t care that it’s snowing outside and we don’t want to get out of bed,” General Curator Robyn Barfoot said. “They need us and that is our driving force.”
The rare Bengal tigers Almos, Bagheera, Taj and Vitez lounge in heated enclosures if the mercury falls. Some species — such as colorful macaws and other birds from tropical climates — spend cold days inside and off display. Other animals carouse in the cold temperatures and deep snow.
January 18, 2012
January 18, 2012
NEW — 8 p.m. Jan. 18, 2012
The macaws retreat inside to toastier temperatures. The tigers tolerate the cold. The reindeer, unsurprisingly, revel in the snow.
Though most Issaquah residents experienced a snow day Wednesday, a major snowstorm did not disrupt the routine for the denizens of Cougar Mountain Zoo.
July 2, 2011
Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)
The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.
The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.
June 28, 2011
Months after Cougar Mountain Zoo’s iconic cougar Nashi died, keepers unveiled a trio of month-old cougar cubs June 23.
The cubs — one male and two females born May 20 — should go on display July 16. In the meantime, zoogoers might see the cubs during unscheduled public appearances after July 1.
“The cubs are absolutely adorable! They are extremely playful and curious about everything,” zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said in a news release. “I can’t wait to bring them home and introduce them to our zoo visitors.”
Barfoot and Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar picked up the then-2-pound cubs at a Wisconsin zoo.
The cubs replace Nashi, a longtime denizen at the nonprofit zoo. Nashi died in February at age 17. Keepers started the search for cougar cubs soon after.
The zoo lacked a namesake big cat in the months since Nashi’s death.
“We are still recovering from losing Nashi this past February. He was an incredible and iconic cougar,” Barfoot said. “With the addition of these new cubs, our hearts are happy again. The cubs have a lot to live up to, but so far, they are doing a fantastic job. They are healthy, happy cubs and I think our visitors will give them a wonderful welcome.”
February 15, 2011
On Feb. 27, Cougar Mountain Zoo will host a lecture on the dilemma of the Bengal tiger.
General Curator and Zoo Manager Robyn Barfoot will be the speaker.
“The lecture was the suggestion of one of our zoo members who wanted to know about my trip to India and the conservation work I had done,” Barfoot said. “She suggested making it a public meeting and I ran with it.”
According to Barfoot, the Bengal tiger has seen a 97 percent drop in its population in the past 100 years. In search of answers, she recently made a visit to India and met with directors from different tiger parks as well as the director of the World Wildlife Fund.
The lecture will go more in-depth on the subject of the tiger and discuss ways people can help.
“I will have a slideshow of photos from my trip and will touch on ecotourism in India and what that means for the Bengal Tiger,” Barfoot said. “There will be a Q-and-A section and information on what ‘we’ can do to help the wild tiger. It’s going to be a relaxed environment, encouraging interaction and open discussions about the plight of the tiger.”
Cougar Mountain Zoo is home to four Bengal tigers. Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar has been at the zoo since June 2005 and has worked closely with the tigers since their arrival.
“I work daily with our now four Bengal tigers with general husbandry, feeding, medicating (if needed) and training,” Puskar said. “From the tools obtained by the zoo and Robyn, I do my best to provide anyone I encounter a vast amount of information about this vanishing species.”
November 30, 2010
Issaquah Reindeer Festival raises money for exhibits
Not many people can name all nine of Santa’s reindeer, but Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot can name 10.
That’s right. There’s Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen — not to mention Rudolph — and, Olive, as in “All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names; they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”
“Zookeepers have a very strange sense of humor,” Barfoot said.
There weren’t always 10 reindeer at Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo. The first group of reindeer, six in all, came directly from Siberia 23 years ago. Though at the zoo — and in Issaquah, no less — the reindeer not only help Santa every Christmas season but also bring in much-needed dollars for the zoo, which has a slow season during the cold, rainy months. Read more
October 22, 2010
NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 22, 2010
Cougar Mountain Zoo is more than $50,000 closer to opening a cheetah exhibit.
The zoo hosted a gala fundraiser last month to raise some of the $100,000 needed to add cheetahs a big cat collection comprised of tigers and a cougar. The masquerade soiree raised $51,800 through ticket sales, auctions and the chance to purchase a photo alongside a 4-year-old female cheetah.
Cougar Mountain Zoo aims to become the first facility in Washington to open a cheetah exhibit.
Zoo leaders announced plans last summer to add a cheetah exhibit and plan to construct and open the habitat by late 2011 or early 2012.