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March 31, 2014

Visit Portland: Oregon Zoo

Our family loves to visit zoos whenever we travel, so we knew a visit to Oregon Zoo while in Portland was a must.

Spread out over 64 acres, the Oregon Zoo, which celebrated 125 years this past November, is currently going through some big changes (click here for more information on the "new zoo") in an effort to provide better futures for the animals while engaging and educating visitors.

Although there was some construction going on and some areas that were closed, it did not stop our family from having a wonderful time.    

Highlights of Our Hosted Visit
The Oregon Zoo is home to hundreds of animals, and we saw everything from tiny insects and slithering reptiles, to beautiful birds and enormous mammals.

Grazing giraffes, slumbering hippos, and a polar bear just "chilling" out were just a few of our favorites.  


Clockwise from top left: giraffes, bats, sea lion, hippos, polar bear, chimpanzee, cheetahs, Nile monitor

 
We also thought it was neat to see the fierce lion, the HUGE teeth on the naked mole rat, and the majestic bald eagles.

African Lion

Naked Mole Rat

Bald Eagles
There were many, many more interesting exhibits, and there were also many educational displays that my kids loved to interact with. 

Educational Display
In addition to the educational displays, there are numerous other fun things for kids to do.
 
There's a petting zoo, a large sand box full of toys for kids to play with, several animal statues for fun photo ops, a blowhole which elicited numerous shrieks from kids (including my own) as water sprayed into the air, and so much more (there is also a Zoo Train, which I know my kids would've LOVED, but it's closed until later this year).

Dining
Outside food and drink may be brought into the zoo, and there are several dining facilities on the grounds, including the Cascade Grill, where we had lunch. 



Turkey Club with Fries



Kids Hot Dog Meal (kids meals includes Cheetos, animal crackers, and a drink)


Kids Grilled Cheese Meal
The prices were reasonable and the food was delicious and satisfying.

Our Experience Visiting with a Special-Needs Child
My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and although I know kids on the spectrum all behave and react differently in various environments, I always try to share our personal experience when visiting attractions.

Upon arrival we immediately made sure my son got his own zoo map since he is obsessed with maps.  He really enjoyed walking around the grounds of the Oregon Zoo, and especially loved when he'd see tunnels or caves to crawl or walk through.

Although there was no zebra (it had recently passed away), which is his favorite animal, he was happy to see the elephants, and he really enjoyed watching the penguins in the Penguinarium.


Elephant


Humboldt Penguins


He did not have too many meltdowns, although there were times he did get extremely anxious about which direction we were going next.  Fortunately there were many benches around the zoo to sit to rest or take a snack break, and there were many indoor areas we could have sneaked away to for rainy weather (my son has sensory issues with rain).  There's also a nice big, grassy picnic area if kids need to release some energy and run around.
 
For those on a GFCF diet, as mentioned above you are welcome to bring your own food and drink.

Final Thoughts
Our family really enjoyed the Oregon Zoo and all it had to offer. 

We spent about three hours the zoo, and we saw so many beautiful and unusual creatures, and learned so much at the same time.

I can't wait to see what the "new zoo" will look like when the transformation is complete.


Oregon Zoo
4001 SW Canyon Rd
Portland, OR 97221
(503) 226-1561


Click here for hours and admission prices; click here for parking information.


Thank you to Oregon Zoo for hosting our visit.  Meals were paid on our own.

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