Even the animals celebrate Valentines Day

Determined to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the animals of the Woodland Park Zoo, a crowd of hearty Washingtonians scoffed at the wind and rain last Saturday to watch animals share Valentine’s Day-themed treats like heart-shaped boxes filled with fruit, heart-shaped fruit wreaths and heart-shaped ice pops.

The annual event is what’s called “thematic enrichment,” according to zoo spokesperson Gigi Allianic. “Enrichment is the process of creating a challenging environment to address an animal’s social, psychological and physical needs,” Allianic said. She added that such events contribute to successful breeding of endangered species in captivity and connecting zoo visitors to the animals. “It’s an opportunity for visitors to learn about behavioral enrichment,” Allianic said.

Allianic said themed events are not only a great way for visitors to learn about the zoo’s animals, but is also an important part of caring for the animals. “It reinforces natural behavior such as exploring and foraging and is a part of the daily care program,” Allianic said.

While Valentine’s Day at the zoo is a hit with heart-shaped treats being fed to the animals, Allianic said it’s not the only event that draws a crowd. The zoo offers other events on Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Proposed low-income housing draws mixed reviews

Housing the homeless is a good idea, right? But what happens when the housing is next door to you?

On Monday night at Ballard High School, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development convened a design review board that consisted of architects from the Weinstein AIU architectural firm. The purpose of the public meeting was to discuss design options (.pdf) for newly approved low-income housing in downtown Ballard.

The housing is being developed by the Compass Center, a longtime fixture in downtown Seattle. It will be 57,000 square feet, seven stories high and house 80 residents. The building site is on Northwest 56th Street between 17th and 20th Avenues Northwest.

The Compass Center Ballard will be a new housing facility that will provide housing for homeless and low-income men and women who have issues that range from mental health to drug and alcohol dependency, according to its website.

Rumi Takahashi, the project’s lead architect, said although the project is in its early design stages, it will move forward and the Compass Center has already purchased the land. “They have now recently secured funding for the project, so financially we’re a go,” Takahashi said. She added that the money comes from a combination of public sources: the state, the county and the city.

Although the meeting was supposed to be about design options, local residents seemed more concerned with how the residents of the Compass Center were going to interact with the community.

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Magnolia author presents ‘The Map as Art’

Most of us see maps as getting us from here to there, but a Magnolia author is pointing readers in a new direction by using imaginative versions of maps created by various artists.

Last Thursday, Jan. 21, the Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard teamed up with the Ballard Library to feature Magnolia author Katharine Harmon. She presented a slide show of her new book, “The Map As Art.”

“The Map As Art” is a compilation of artwork by artists who use maps as the basis of their vision. For example, one artist painted a picture of all the continents as if they were viewed from space at night. Cities in the United States and parts of Europe were dimly lit and the rest of planet was left in the dark. The artist titled it “The Axis of Evil–Mostly in the Dark.”

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