The Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo Giraffes

Yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month, which means $4 admission to The Oregon Zoo. Yesterday was also my son’s second birthday so I took the day off work and we headed to the zoo. Weather wise we could not have asked for a more pleasant day. It was sunny but not hot so it turned out to be a perfect day.  

Below is a map of all the exhibits at the zoo.  Like most of the crowd we start in the Great Northwest exhibit.  After that we then work our way around the zoo in a clockwise direction on the map, skipping most of Pacific Shores which we save for the end.

The first highlight of the day was the polar bear exhibit. The biggest of the two bears was laying down right next to the window so I was able to get a nice close up shot. The picture by the way does not do justice to the enormity of the animal. I think its paw was as big as my head.

Oregon Zoo Polar Bear

If you ever wanted to see how a 2 year old compares in size to your average polar bear, here you go.

Oregon Zoo Polar Bear Size Comparison

After visiting the polar bears, we then worked our way through the Fragile Forests exhibit which has monkeys, apes, and other animals from tropical forests from around the world.  After the Fragile Forests we then visited the Asian Elephant exhibit.

The elephants are what make the Oregon Zoo world famous.  In 1962 Packy became the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years.

He started a successful elephant breeding program at the Oregon Zoo which continues to this day.  The latest addition to the family was Lily who was born on November 30, 2012.  Here she is running around with her mom.

Oregon Zoo Lily the elephant

There is also an inside viewing area where you can get an up close view of one of the elephants. Usually it is a bull on display, which they keep separated from the females who were outside playing when we visited.

Oregon Zoo Bull Elephant

This massive guy is Tusko.  The inside viewing area is both one of my favorite moments at the zoo and one of my saddest.  It is my favorite because I think elephants are amazing animals and seeing them this up close is pretty cool.  At the same time it makes me sad that this 13,000 pound bull is spending the day in a cell.  Fortunately, the Oregon Zoo realizes that these animals deserve more space.  The zoo is currently constructing an expanded exhibit area and a remote facility so the elephants can have more room to roam.  You can read about the project here.

We finished up by heading to the Africa exhibit and then back to Pacific Shores.  After touring all the exhibits we had hoped to ride the zoo train from the zoo to the International Rose Test garden.  Unfortunately, the darn thing was closed for repairs.  Since no train ride was available we called it a day and went out for lunch.  Back at the main entrance there is a restaurant but we think the food is over priced and not that good.  Instead we drove into NW Portland and stopped at Kells Brew Pub.

FYI. it is super easy to get to NW from the zoo.  Instead of getting back on the freeway, which is most likely the way you arrived.  Drive up towards the Hoyt Arboretum and keep driving.  The road winds through a pretty neighborhood and then puts you on W. Burnside.  Drive Burnside down to Westover St. and turn left (second light with an arrow).  There are tons of great places to eat in NW and are cheaper and better than what is offered at the zoo.  Finish the day with a pint was a good way to end a great day at the zoo.

Kells Irish Red Ale

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