Formerly the Washington Park Zoo, Portland’s Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo in the western United States. In total there are more than 2,200 animals with 260 species represented, though the stars of the zoo are more often than not the herd of Asian elephants. The youngest elephant was born at the park in 2012, so she’s still toddler size, while the rest impress with their spotted ears and unique personalities. There’s also a very unique California Condors exhibit which showcases the local and endangered birds.
The animal exhibits are easily explored and grouped geographically, ranging from the Great Northwest and Pacific Shoes to the wildlife of Asia and Africa. With specialized gardens and an extensive plant collection, there is a variety of plant life as well. The zoo’s narrow gauge railway connects to the International Rose Test Garden inside Washington Park. The park often holds special events, including the seasonal zoo summer concert series and holiday Zoolights show.
The Oregon Zoo is located just outside of downtown Portland. You can get there in minutes via the MAX light rail. Both the Blue and Red lines run to the Washington Park station, and parking is also available. Open every day from 9 am to 4 pm, admission costs $11.50 for adults and $8.50 for children. The Portland Children’s Museum and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum are both close by.