Oregon Zoo-So Much More Than Wild Animals- 10 miles from Vancouver

So you want to go to the Oregon Zoo. Maybe you’ve been so many times you know the keepers by name and have seen every one of their over 1800 animals While your heart yearns to experience the wild, you wonder, sincerely, what else there is to do. Well, I can guarantee the Oregon Zoo does not stop at wild animals.

Walking, safely

I nailed this one as a single woman looking for a safe place to walk in my twenties. I received an Oregon Zoo membership and spent many a late morning and afternoon walking the grounds. Animal viewing was sub-par as I was not a parent with a stroller; they, understandably, get priority. However, walking in such a beautiful location was a welcome change to the bad part of town I was living in. The zoo currently has 64 acres, so counting steps definitely will not be a problem.

The Flora

One of the main reasons I love coming to the zoo other than the animals is the plant life. It is glorious! A number of native species are neatly labeled. I’ve often taken pictures of plants so I can later purchase the same and place in my yard. Some are not labeled, like the ornamental lettuce near the Trillium Creek Family Farm. The plants are both directly near the walking path and a bit behind as well, making for a fun flora hunt. The exhibits also contain plants in splendor. My favorite to walk through is the Howard Vollum Aviary. A bird lover by nature, hearing their calls, feeling the heat, and seeing the plant life make me feel as though in an African rainforest. Plants, both native and non-native are so abundant here, I believe long ago (I’ve visited since a very young child), the zoo was known as the Washington Park Zoo and Arboretum.

Ornamental lettuce is planted outside the Trillium Creek Family Farm, an iridescent bright spot on a cold and muted winter day.

The Trillium Creek Family Farm

My son could spend all day here! He loves the wooden barrel horses and always heads straight for them. Farm animals are both indoors and out. They were indoors when we visited and occupied both sides of the barn. There are benches here as well and in my experience, this is a great place to sit and take a break as it is one of the less popular resting areas. A catio outside gives inspiration to feline owners on how to build a structure so cats can be outdoors, but on safely on their property. The goats were having an absolute blast when we visited!

The Artwork

Art abounds here! In addition to the various sculptures, both murals and interactive art for children can be found. Delightful is the best word I can come up with for it.

The Railroad

Would you like to get your mail postmarked by hand cancellation from the only railroad to do so in the United States? What if you could also do so from the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi? And ride a train too? On narrow tracks? All that is possible here! Maybe I’m just a kid at heart, but I think this is SOOO cool!

A vintage mail collection bin to get your mail hand canceled with a railroad stamp!

The Carousel

One of a handful in the Portland, Oregon area, the carousel is a joy to ride for children of all ages! It features animals of many sorts in a myriad of colors. It was so fun to watch my son and his friend ride their horses The excitement in their eyes as they galloped slowly, sped up, and slowed down again is something I will always treasure.

It was uch a joy to ride on a carousel with my son, his friend, and my memories!

The Concert Lawn

Pre-COVID, concerts at the zoo were a BIG DEAL. Although there is hope they will be coming back, the concert lawn is a welcome area to rest, play, and plot your next exhibit viewing. Think of a big open field in the middle of a safe jungle where children are free to be children, and you’ll get the picture. My son and his friend enjoyed playing tag and balancing on the edge of the short wall bordering the area. I enjoyed watching them and viewing the animals I could see in the area as well as the turtle sculpture on the edge of the lawn.

The turtle sculpture on the edge of the concert lawn, (taken in summer). This very humorous piece of art always makes me smile, perhaps due to my height impairment?

The Membership Benefits Plus More

We are members of the Oregon Zoo. The benefits are beyond just free zoo entry. 50% discounts can be found at other zoos and aquariums plus free admission to other local attractions on monthly rotation: https://www.oregonzoo.org/news/2020/01/local-attractions-offer-reciprocal-admission-members

The Oregon Zoo staff and volunteers are highly knowledgeable about a wide range of animal and conservation topics. A number of them carry credentials from previous places of employment. They are a great resource, so if you get a chance to listen to a keeper talk, please do so.

Other miscellaneous benefits include a gift shop with specialized items (including a souvenir penny machine out front), free days, and occasional interactive activities. The latest is a scavenger hunt. Find more info here: https://www.oregonzoo.org/

For all I have discovered, I’m sure there is more. Each day at the Oregon Zoo is a new experience. If you have anything to add, please list it in the comments. I love knowing what my readers think!

Lastly, I want to dedicate this blog to my friend Kirsten Israel for lending me her son for the day. Honestly, it was probably my best zoo experience ever! I’d also like to dedicate it to my friend Sarah Steinhebel, whose love of goats is unparalleled and has helped me appreciate them in a whole new light! Thank you both!

Published by nearvancouver

Dreaming big and traveling locally in or near Vancouver, WA.

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