View native creatures and endangered species during every month of the year at one of the oldest zoos in the United States.
In Washington Park, located in the West Hills not too far from Portland, visitors will find a 26-hectare zoo housing animals of all shapes and sizes. It is home to more than 1,955 animals, including 22 endangered species and 37 threatened species. It is the perfect way to spend a rainy day around Portland, as most of the exhibits offer shelter of some sort.
There are five main exhibit areas to explore: the Great Northwest, Pacific Shores, Asia, Africa, and Fragile Forests. Take your time walking around, or get off your feet and enjoy a ride on the Zoo Loop, a train tracking a 1.6-kilometre route around the zoo’s perimeter. Trains also head further afield to the International Rose Test Garden on the Washington Park and Zoo Railway line.
The Great Northwest exhibit features majestic creatures such as the black bear and the eagle. The Pacific Shores exhibit mesmerizes visitors with adorable sea otters and penguins. Keep an eye out for the king of the jungle and the other big cats of Africa when you stop by the Africa exhibit. Here you will find a host of other interesting animals, from the African slender-snouted crocodile to the Egyptian fruit bat. The Fragile Forest exhibit gives an underwater view of the flooded Amazon Forest, where you might just see a swimming anaconda.
All of the exhibits in the zoo are fantastic, but the Asia exhibit is truly special. The Oregon Zoo has been successfully breeding the endangered Asian elephant for 50 years, and you can see them interact with one another here. Visit between September and June and take advantage of ZooSnooze, where visitors are allowed to spend the night at the zoo—Tuesdays through Saturdays—in order to see the nocturnal Malayan sun bears.
Entry prices are discounted on the second Tuesday of every month, but beware of large crowds on these days. The Oregon Zoo also hosts live concert events all summer long, and in the winter, the trains are decorated as part of the Zoolights show, when the zoo is transformed into a wonderland of trees laden with lights.