I know as a kid I loved going to the zoo. There were all of the strange animals I had never seen before. We had this plastic key that when we place it in a metal box by the animal exhibit a voice from the box told us about what we were looking at. And then there was Zoo Train that looped out into woods to another depot and then returned. Food places that looked like something from Africa but still served the hot dogs we were use to having. And our parent complaining about how everything cost so much. As an adult the place is not so exciting. Some of things from my childhood still remain at the Oregon Zoo and somethings are gone now.
About five years ago we past a bond measure to do some extensive rebuilding of the Zoo. The last phase of construction are just being completed. The rebuild was to expand and modernize some of the areas the animals were kept in but not all. There was money to try and make the Zoo geared more for research, conservation, humane treatment of the animals and not just to cram them in for display. There was also a new an area to be added that feature our own Northwest animals (I would rather see a cougar behind bars then coming down a trail towards me). So much of the work is done and looks pretty good. It makes the old stuff look not so good. I am sure another bond measure is coming.
But from what I saw from my visit, there is a new generation of Zoo visitors who were more excited about building happy childhood memories then seeing how tax dollars were spent. It is a good place to take kids on a sunny day. For the parents you both get pleasure of seeing your child’s excitement and like my parents, the challenge of keeping track of them, feeding them and wondering why everything is so expensive.
Oregon Zoo Facts
Within the 64 acres of the zoo there are five major exhibit areas: Great Northwest, Fragile Forests, Asia, Pacific Shores and Africa. Within these large areas are 23 specialized exhibits.
Animals of the Oregon Zoo
- 2,697 individual animals represent 215 species or subspecies of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates
- 19 endangered species and 9 threatened species live at the zoo.
- The zoo is active in 63 Species Survival Plans.
Plants of the Oregon Zoo
Native plants of the Pacific Northwest’s temperate rainforests have been cultivated to create naturalistic exhibits, pathways and vistas within the zoo. More than 1,000 species of exotic plants thrive in the zoo’s botanical gardens, including firebird heliconia, pelican flower and ground orchid. Some are harvested and given to the animals as browse.