Seattle Press
News Briefs

Baby gorilla

SEATTLE—At 4:20 a.m. last August 30, a gorilla was born at Woodland Park Zoo, marking the zoo’s 11th successful gorilla birth. The female infant represents the second offspring between 32-year old mother, Amanda, and 23-year old father, Vip.
On average, newborn gorillas weigh about four pounds.

Amanda and her infant remain indoors off exhibit due to cooler temperatures and Amanda’s recovery from the delivery.

“The infant appear to be healthy and strong, and is gripping Amanda firmly,” Helen Shewman, senior keeper at the zoo, said. “Similarly, Amanda is demonstrating normal maternal care by holding and cleaning her baby.”

The gorilla birth is significant for the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) since Amanda is a “founder” animal—born in the wild—and Vip has only one other relative outside of Woodland Park Zoo. These combined factors make the baby gorilla’s genes valuable.

Shorter Medicaid

OLYMPIA—The state’s Medical Assistance Customer Service Center will shrink its operating hours slightly beginning September as part of the ongoing effort to adjust to the state’s current budget squeeze.

The toll-free call center 1-800-562-3022 will begin operations at 7 a.m. on weekdays as before but will now close at 6 p.m., not at 7 p.m. The center does not operate on weekends or holidays, but clients who call outside operating hours can leave information to enroll in or change managed care plans.

The move will allow the center to better accommodate part-time hours and operate more efficiently without significantly decreasing the levels of service, according to Medicaid representatives at the Department of Social and Health Services.
The call center currently handles approximately 25,000 to 30,000 client calls in a typical month.

New culture authority

THE METROPOLITAN King County Council’s Natural Resources, Parks and Open Space Committee approved, and sent to the full council, a measure establishing a Cultural Development Authority (CDA) to administer King County’s cultural programs.

“As we tackle the budget challenge facing King County, I have said that we are working at turning crisis into opportunity,” said Councilmember Carolyn Edmonds, chair of the Natural Resources, Parks and Open Space Committee. “The residents of King County value the diversity of the arts and heritage programs available throughout the region. The PDA is an effort to ensure that there is a stable and permanent funding source for these programs now and in the future.”

If adopted, the CDA will continue the work of the King County Arts Commission, the Public Art Program and the heritage funding programs of the Landmarks and Heritage Commission.
The CDA will manage all programs and cultural services of the Office of Cultural Resources, including cultural facilities, special projects, cultural education and sustained support programs for arts and heritage organizations, public art projects and technical assistance. The CDA’s funding will be provided by the hotel-motel tax revenue earmarked for cultural programs. The PDA will manage public art projects on behalf of the county.

The CDA will be managed by a 15-member board of directors appointed by the executive and confirmed by the council.