Know Before You Go
COVID-19 Update: The Oregon Zoo is open. Visitors follow a one-way path (see map) through the zoo, and some indoor and high-touch areas remain closed. You must purchase timed tickets in advance online. Capacity is limited and face masks are required. See the latest health and safety guidelines related to COVID-19 on the Oregon Zoo’s website.
The oldest zoo west of the Mississippi is just minutes from downtown Portland via MAX light rail in Washington Park. The Oregon Zoo is home to 2,697 animals from more than 215 species. More than 40 percent of the zoo has been renovated in the last few years. There’s more room for rhinos, primo real estate for primates and a new expanse for elephants.
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Elephants on Parade
The zoo’s herd of six elephants includes a new addition: Samson. In 2015, the Elephant Lands exhibit quadrupled in size, creating a world-class home with new features that include shade structures, hilly berms and corridors, and a 12-foot-deep pond with remote-controlled water jets for playtime. The exhibit’s interactive digital displays allow visitors to identify individual elephants and even log behavior observations to share with zoo staff.
Another major update to the zoo was the new Condors of the Columbia exhibit, which houses critically endangered California condors. Though once native to Oregon and known as “Thunderbirds” that populated the Columbia River during Lewis and Clark’s journey, these pterodactyl-sized scavengers haven’t been seen wild in the region in more than 100 years. The Oregon Zoo hopes to change that, and provides a naturalistic environment for birds from their condor recovery program that cannot be released in the wild. Two covered viewing areas (including an elevated watching post) gives visitors the opportunity for a rare face-to-beak encounter with these gregarious giants.
New Polar Bear Exhibit
In 2021, The Oregon Zoo’s polar bears moved into a new space with deep saltwater pools, panoramic views and a “smell port.” The Polar Passage gives visitors an exciting new look into polar bear behavior and supports scientific research.
Questions About the Oregon Zoo
How long does it take to see the Oregon Zoo?
How much does it cost to park at the zoo?
View real-time parking availability at the Oregon Zoo and other areas of Washington Park.
Are advance tickets required?
On rare occasions, the zoo closes due to inclement weather. To confirm if the zoo is open, phone the zoo’s main telephone number, 503-226-1561 to hear a recording with up-to-date information.
Details are subject to change; please check the Oregon Zoo’s website for current information.
Are there places to eat at the zoo?
What visit to the zoo is complete without eating an elephant ear? Not the animal kind, the sugar and cinnamon kind! Follow your nose to the Central Plaza or Elephant Plaza for a warm and tasty treat.
Currently, all food and retail locations are “cashless.” Credit and debit cards are the only form of payment accepted.
Visit the Zoo Food webpage for more information and hours of operation.
The Lay of the Land
Stroll the zoo’s parklike grounds (64 acres in total) as you explore 23 exhibits grouped into geographical areas:
- Great Northwest – Mountain goats, black bears, bobcats, bald eagles, river otters, beavers, waterfowl, cougars, California condors, goats
- Pacific Shores – Sea otters, penguins, harbor seals, tidepool
- Discovery Zone – Insects, zoo train, wildlife garden
- Primate Forest – Apes
- Elephant Lands – Asian elephants
- Africa – Lions, painted dogs, cheetahs, pythons, giraffes, monkeys, fruit bats, crocodiles, flamingos, pythons, tortoise, bontebok, birds
Events & Attractions at the Zoo
The zoo offers special events for every season, from the spring egg hunts of Rabbit Romp to Howloween’s trick-or-treating, but none shines as brightly as ZooLights, the annual holiday light display that runs from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Eve. With more than a million LED lights adorning trees and animated sculptures, this popular event transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland.
From June through September, the Oregon Zoo Summer Concert Series brings major national acts like the B-52s, Indigo Girls and Portland’s own Pink Martini to its outdoor stage. Concert tickets include all-day admission to the zoo, so you can visit the animals before staking out a spot on the shady lawn and digging into locally sourced food, beer and wine sold on-site. Every show opens with a Wild Life Live performance featuring fly-overs from some of the zoo’s feathered residents.
The narrow-gauge Washington Park and Zoo Railway offers a nostalgic, kid-friendly way to explore the zoo. In addition to carrying passengers, the steam-powered trains also transport U.S. mail, making this the last railroad to continuously offer mail service. Just drop your letters or postcards onboard the locomotives or in mailboxes on the zoo grounds to get them hand-canceled with the Washington Park and Zoo Railway stamp.
Discounts and Special Offers
- Zoo for All: Check to see if you qualify for reduced admission here.
- The zoo occasionally offers $1.50 off admission if you ride a TriMet bus or MAX Light Rail to the zoo. Check the Zoo’s discount page for current offers.
Getting to the Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo is served by the MAX light rail Blue and Red lines; the Washington Park MAX station is also close to the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the 4T and Wildwood trailheads.
TriMet bus #63 also goes from Providence Park downtown to Washington Park, with stops near the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, as well as the Oregon Zoo and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.
Washington Park offers a free shuttle for transportation within the park, stopping at all the park’s major attractions, as well as the Washington Park MAX station. The shuttle operates daily from 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
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