Exploring The Oregon Zoo

Last Updated on April 29, 2021


The Oregon Zoo encompasses 64 acres in the West Hills of Portland. The Zoo has five major exhibit areas: Great Northwest, Fragile Forests, Asia, Pacific Shores and Africa. The Zoo felt really clean (even with the obvious expansion construction). The enclosures are beautifully put together and give off as natural a feel as you could get in an unnatural environment. Even the entrance prices seemed reasonable when compared to other Zoos (Adults- $11.50, Seniors- $10, Children- $8.50 and Children two and under are free).


Currently the elephant area is under reconstruction. The displays showing the expansion plans look very promising, exciting and looks like it will be fantastic once it opens (see one of the images above), but does unfortunately leave the elephant viewing area lacking at the moment. We cannot wait to visit again once it is fully open. Any of the other (few) habitats that looked like they needed to be spruced up,you can see evidence of where they are obviously working on those issues. The train is also shut down while they are building a new track that will give better viewing of the different attractions.

This is one massive Polar Bear – magnificent!

The polar bear was magnificent – massive in size and was and sleeping up against the glass so you could get a great look- we for sure would not want to be swiped with those paws! I cannot recall the last time we saw a Polar Bear up close and the Polar Bear just took our breath away and made us wish we could hop on a plane right now to go see them in their natural environment.

There is a large variety of animals and they all looked very happy and healthy. You can see and feel the effort put into each area and it shows in the demeanor of the animals. The only exhibit that really seemed to pull on my heartstrings was the Polar Bear — for an animal that massive in size, we hoped that improving that living area was one of the next plans. And, there are expansion plans in the works for the Polar Bear area that include an increase in square footage, water quality and housing conditions that will exceed Zoo industry standards. The new habitat will also provide the ability for the bears to have more stimulating surroundings and be able to make choices regarding their daily activities.

Seriously — there IS glass between them!
Tickling A “Golden Lion Cub”

We especially enjoyed that Madison was able to get so “close” to the cheetahs, alligators and the massive polar bear. Madison also loved getting up close the animal ‘art’ such as the penguins in the penguin habitat, being able to tickle the ‘golden lion cubs’ and to see and feel the different textures on the wall that showcased how the Native Peoples on the North West Coast left behind many clues of their cultures that help us piece together the puzzle today.

The Native Peoples on the North West Coast left behind many clues of their cultures.

It was interesting (and fantastic) how interactive kids (and the kid in the rest of us grown-ups) were able to  get with each different area of the Zoo, such as seeing how fast you can run when compared to a Cheetah (below photo). The Zoo is very hands on and this gives children a lot to do and a better ability to learn about all of these incredible animals, where they otherwise would not be able to have such an opportunity.

How fast can you run?

It felt like there were always knowledgeable Zoo staff around answering questions and telling you of other interesting facts about each animal that you would not have otherwise known. I have never had so many Zoo employees around exhibits before to talk about their obvious love for the animals. Also, make sure you read the keeper notes posted at each exhibit for some very interesting information.

Sea Otter enjoying some relaxation
Sea Lion showing off his swimming abilities
Dwarf Caiman
Caiman Lizard
Giraffes are incredible animals

Did you know…

Different animal groups have different names, for example, a group of:
Hippopotamuses is called a bloat;
Lions is called a pride;
Porcupines is called a prickle;
Rhinos is called a crash.


We also loved how Eco-friendly the Zoo felt. For example, recycled usage such as the old tires that were used to create the surface of one of the boardwalks in the Zoo. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!


These animals wouldn’t survive outside of the Zoo walls, so we are able to learn from them through Zoo education on how to better their lives in the wild. That is what this zoo is about.

View some additional photos of the animals at the Oregon Zoo.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for a Zoo, but in the imperfect world in which we live, the Oregon Zoo seems to do amazing things for conservation and helps us to better understand what we can do to help all the animals we greatly love to see. I think for the amount of space they have the Zoo does very well in maintaining the best life possible for the animals.

The Zoo was great for a 3-4 hour visit. The Oregon Zoo was definitely a fun experience and we hope to be back sooner than later.

Our interesting food find of the day was an “Elephant Ear”, which was similar to a fried tortilla with sugar and cinnamon.

In the same parking lot is the Children’s Museum,  World’s Forestry Museum and Washington Park is a short drive around the corner.


The Oregon Zoo is part of The Association of Zoos and Aquariums , which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation and is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries.


Our visit was sponsored by the Oregon Zoo, but as always, our opinions are our own.


Have you ever been to the Oregon Zoo? What did you think? Or, is there a Zoo you enjoy visiting most?