The Oregon Zoo (formerly known as the Washington Park Zoo) has been around for over 125 years. They seek to inspire the community through their animals to create a better future for wildlife. Within the 64 acres of zoo space are 1029 animals, representing about 200 species of animals. It's a huge attraction in the Portland area and draws in more than 1.4 million people annually.
The zoo was first started in the mid 1880's by Richard Knight, a pharmacist who had many seafaring acquaintances that he would buy animals from. One of his first purchases was two bears, which when standing erect reached 9' tall. His collection of exotic creatures was kept in the back of his drug store. He presented his collection to the city in 1887, which was moved to the area that is now known as the Oregon Zoo. By 1894, the zoo had grown incredibly and already housed 300 specimens that were for the most part collected in North America.
One of the zoo's proudest attractions is the elephant Packy, the first elephant that had been born in America for 44 years. Because the zoo has the most successful elephant breeding program in the entire world, other elephants have followed Packy's lead and have been born in this zoo.
There are many, many other exhibits to choose from, and visitors often have difficulty seeing everything in only one day. The African Rainforest and African Savanna exhibits feature large varieties from this diverse continent. The Red Ape Reserve provides indoor and outdoor opportunities to observe monkeys' natural behaviors. The Howard Vollum Aviary is a large tropical room full of exotic birds, where both the animals and the humans can explore freely. For visitors that are hungry, the AfriCafe overlooks the aviary. More tropical forest exhibits, including the Amazon Flooded Forest and the South American Forest exhibit, displays all kinds of creatures the live in these fragile forests. The Bears exhibit has everything from polar bears to sun bears. Endangered felines are available for viewing in the "Cats of the Amur Region.'' The Family Farm is a petting zoo run entirely by teen volunteers. There's also an Elk Meadow, the Insect Zoo, and Penguins exhibits.
Although the zoo features animals from all over the world, is also pays tribute to the creatures that are indigenous to the Great Northwest, including mountain goats, black bears, and bobcats. Eagle Canyon displays endangered eagle species, the Cougar Crossing allows visitors to peer directly into the eyes of their cougars, and the Cascade Stream and Pond has beaver dens and river otters.
A huge favorite is the Lorikeet Landing, a walk-through aviary containing some of the most gorgeous birds in the world. On sale are small paper cups of fruit juice that the lorikeets land on visitors in order to drink from.
The Oregon Zoo doesn't just provide opportunities to view glorious animals. There are many interactive learning activities, including the Elephant Museum, and Cascade Outfitters if a large animal themed gift shop for visitors to buy mementos of their trip. There are several restaurants, including Cascade Grill and a creamery, as well as snack stands that are located all over the park. The zoo has trains that carry visitors around the grounds, including the Zoo Loop and the Washington Park Run.