Guest Post by Sarah Saker
Portland, Oregon is an unassuming city, much like the majority of cities across the United States. It doesn’t have the renown that places such as New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, or Chicago have. But that is alright. This gives places like Portland a quaintness that the metropolises of America cannot achieve. And there are some great things to see in Portland, including a city underground and an extinct volcano!
But it is the Oregon Zoo that really deserves a chance in the spotlight! The design of this zoo is very reminiscent of other zoos throughout the country, including the Nashville Zoo and Jacksonville Zoo. Although not nearly as large as its Eastern US cousins (though it is currently expanding), the Oregon Zoo, in the heart of Washington Park, remains a great place to visit if you are ever in the area for business or pleasure.
A Whopping 3,000 Animals
A zoo must have animals. That is expected. However, this one is home to nearly 3,000 individual animals, ranging from some of the smallest insects to the largest of mammals. There are more than 200 species represented in the Oregon Zoo, nine of which are threatened towards endangerment while another 19 are already endangered. Some of them include:
- Black Rhinos
- Visayan Warty Pigs
- Asian Elephants
- California Condors
The zoo participates in survival programs for many of these animals, and it relies on educating visitors to help in these efforts.
Plenty of Exhibits
The Oregon Zoo is smaller than some other zoos but what space is used packs a punch. With five primary areas to explore and over 20 exhibits fulfilling the specific needs of the animals therein, there is a lot of ground to cover. With any outdoor adventure, be wary of your surroundings. Follow the rules of any posted signs that you see. And, of course, pay special attention to your children because there are dangers that could lead to physical injuries. Though it may be unlikely, be safe during your tour of the zoo.
The largest area in the zoo is devoted to animals native to the African continent. Outdoor habitats are aplenty here with spaces for giraffes, zebras, lions and other predators of the Serengeti, and rhinoceroses. The spaces they inhabit are designed to be reminiscent of the rainforests and savannahs of the largest continent.
The elephants, a staple of most American zoos, have a vast pasture to freely roam and encircles half the property. It can be seen from multiple angles as you travel the paths cutting through the zoo, guaranteeing an interesting view no matter where you are.
The next largest area is home to a variety of more local animals, showcasing black bears, bald eagles (the national bird of the United States), cougars, and river otters. This section of the zoo will be more familiar for people native to North America while visitors from Europe or Asia will see it as a completely foreign experience.
This area of the zoo gives you additional things to do aside from viewing the animals With an exploration station and wildlife gardens, you can learn more about nature here. This is the place to be if you are into insects as well.
If you love penguins, then you will love this section of the Oregon Zoo. It is designed to capture the essence of the Pacific Ocean. Here you will find the Penguinarium swarming with the small, clumsy flightless birds, along with habitats for sea otters, and seals. Take a ride on the carousel if you brought your loved one or children along for this zoo visit.
The Primate Forest is centered in the zoo but is currently under construction. While the habitat is being renovated, the chimpanzees are still viewable in a smaller section of the habitat. No one can pass up the opportunity to see chimps fling themselves up into the canopies or swing from limb to limb effortlessly. They are always putting on a show for zoo visitors.
If your children are interested in preserving the wildlife on our planet, then enroll them in one of the classes the Oregon Zoo offers. There are a number of classes for each grade level, all the way to Seniors in high school. These classes will teach them (and you) of the different animals they present, the ecosystem they live in, and their importance to the planet. Coincide this with your zoo visit so there is more to see and do before or after the class.
Go Behind the Scenes
For an additional fee, you and your family can go behind the scenes of the Oregon Zoo and encounter the animals as only the zookeepers do. If you want an up-close view of the insects or reptiles, owls or porcupines, reserve one of these fun tours and learn things about these creatures the plaques on their habitats don’t tell you. They are typically 30 minutes, leaving you with plenty of time to continue your zoo visit afterward.
If visiting the Oregon Zoo sounds like a good way to spend the day to you, click here to visit their website and start planning your tour!
*A big thank you to Portland native, Sarah Saker for contributing this guest wonderful guest post!