I couldn’t believe my eyes! This elephant just kept coming back for more and my kids couldn’t get enough of the up close and personal Oregon Zoo experience.
I’ve loved animals since I emerged from my mother’s tummy.
Soft, cuddly animals always brought a smile, but even the crawly critters and wriggly snakes made me happy. I think most kids love animals too. Well at least the Traveling Islander kids do.
So a trip to the Oregon Zoo was a must when we visited Portland.
We lived in the Portland area several years ago. I remember taking the kids to the zoo when they were itty bitty, pushing the stroller all around, hoping they could catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals. They loved it then and they loved it even more now.
No stroller accompanied us through the gates this time, only a backpack full of food and water for our fun-filled day.
We practically skipped into the Oregon Zoo and easily followed the layout through the animal habitats.
Beginning with the seals and a beautiful underwater viewing area we settled in for a fantastic day. Watching animals underwater is always a highlight. I mean, who doesn’t love watching what goes on under the surface?
Nothing prepared me for the magnificence of what the Portland Zoo has created for its 5 resident asian elephants.
This new elephant exhibit, opened just under a year ago, provides a savannah-type habitat for elephants to roam and explore. Complete with high feeding stations simulating leaves in the trees and a pool deep enough for the elephants to fully submerge, I was amazed.
I highly recommend timing your visit of the elephants with a feeding. So worth it. We watched as Samudra, an 8 year-old male elephant, enjoyed apples and celery.
It was INCREDIBLE! Check out the video to see if Samudra caught the apple with his mouth!
Each elephant is trained in order to help the zookeepers with routine check ups and health care and we got to see some of it in action. Lifting feet, opening mouths, bending low…all are important to ensure the health of each Asian Elephant.
Truth be told, it was hard to leave the elephants. But we found ourselves at only the half-way point with so much more zoo to still explore.
Each of the kids had a different favourite animal of the day. For Kaia it was the bats. Seriously, girl? Bats? Why not a cute cuddly bear or cheetah? But bats it is. She didn’t want to leave. So while she sat on the ground and admired the upside-down mammals, I took some time to read about them. In the end, I learned about the great service bats provide in keeping the fly population under control, so I conceded that bats are actually okay.
Primate are also a big crowd pleaser.
Chimpanzees, monkeys, orang-utans and more jump, swing and climb from tree to tree in their huge habitats. Their enclosures are large enough to really watch them enjoy a sunny day and play with one another.
My favourite of the day, though, came when we went indoors and one of the primates deliberately came over to say hello.
Never have I wanted to hug a monkey more than this guy. Some may think he just wanted to eat me, but I like to think we bonded for a moment and this is him coming in for a kiss.
Titus wondered at the hippos.
He stretched his photography muscles as he waited patiently for this fabulous shot… I’m always amazed at how a hippo’s massive body (and really, it’s massive isn’t it?) is supported by such tiny legs.
Koen mostly enjoyed holding my hand as we roamed the grounds and just liked everything that jumped around. And the big cats. He really liked the big cats.
The Oregon Zoo is fantastic for a morning out or a full day. Many locals have season passes and with so many animals to see, I understand why. There is always something amazing happening at the zoo. Rain or shine, these animals deliver.
They provide a classroom for learning, a platform for appreciation and the zoo itself teaches how to conserve, and live responsibly on the earth to respect and care for all the creatures.
I love introducing animals to my kids they wouldn’t otherwise get to see. The Oregon Zoo allows me to take my kids on a safari, visit the jungle and go underwater. It’s a beautiful adventure.
Tips for a great day at the Oregon Zoo:
1. Bring snacks…lots of snacks.
We love the zoo so much we stayed for 6 hours! You may not want to stay that long, but if you bring food, chances are you’ll last longer. There are plenty of places to purchase food, but they aren’t always open and it can be expensive. Your best bet is to bring your food in.
2. Pace yourself.
It’s a big zoo with many animals. If you stop to see each animal and watch it for a few minutes, you’ll be there all day long. If you don’t have an entire day (and I mean ENTIRE day) then choose your top 5 and take your time with them. Then you can go more quickly through the rest.
3. Make sure you check the weather and plan accordingly.
Remember this is Portland and it rains a lot. Bring rain gear if needed. Good news is though there are lots of places to watch the animals under cover.
4. Don’t forget to watch your kids’ faces.
The wonder in their eyes is inspiring.
Just don’t forget to live in the present and make some core memories while you’re at it that you can remember back to when you are gone.
Don’t miss these special moments whatever you do.
Email: Send an inquiry
Oregon Zoo Hours change seasonally
May 28 to Sept. 5, 2016 – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sept. 6, 2016 to May 26, 2017 – 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Oregon Zoo Seasonal Admission rates
Peak (March 1 to Sept. 30)
Adult (12–64): $14.95
Off-peak (Oct. 1 to Feb. 28)
Adult (12–64): $9.95