Say the name "Packy" and chances are any Oregonian can tell you who that moniker belongs to. This beloved pachyderm is a 48-year-old Asian elephant, a top star at the Oregon Zoo. Born in 1962, Packy was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. Each year, Packy's birthday is celebrated with an enormous peanut butter and carrot cake with the public invited as party guests. World renowned for its amazing elephant habitat, the zoo is home to six adult elephants, five born at the Oregon Zoo.
Ever mindful of its vision to promote a better future for wildlife, the zoo continually adds new exhibits. "Predators of the Serengeti" opened in 2009 and showcases lions, cheetahs, and other African animals. The newest exhibit, "Red Ape Reserve," gives visitors unparalleled viewings of orangutans and gibbons in indoor and outdoor environments designed specifically for primates.
With over 2,000 specimens representing 260 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrate, you might want to give your tired feet a break and climb aboard one of the zoo's three railway trains. Two diesel-powered trains and a steam engine locomotive provide a relaxing view of the 64-acre grounds during the one-mile route.
There is much more than just viewing the zoo's inhabitants and exhibits through glass and bars though. Visitors can have a real interactive experience at several areas including "The Trillium Creek Family Farm" which lets visitors get up close and pet cows, pigs, goats, and chickens.
Another friendly and interactive exhibit is "Lorikeet Landing." In this open-air aviary, brilliant colored birds called lorikeets fly freely about. Visitors to the exhibit may buy small paper cups of fruit nectar, which the lorikeets love to sip as they use your wrist or shoulder as a perch. And be prepared for not just one dinner guest, but a flock, as any one visitor can quickly become the center of the birds' attention.
If you are ready for a snack yourself, take advantage of the zoo's indoor eateries including the Cascade Grill, which serves specialty sandwiches and salads, or the AfriCafe where burgers and sandwiches along with a side of critter-shaped French fries are on most kids' order. Outdoor eating options include the Bear Walk Cafe (open during summer), various concession stands, and picnic areas.
Visitors during the month of December will want to take in ZooLights which transform the zoo into a winter wonderland of thousands of tiny colorful lights. More than 200 animated animals made of holiday lights create a visual extravaganza. Displays include swinging monkeys, leaping frogs, flying bats, and diving penguins. And since the weather might be a bit on the chilly side, grab a cup of hot chocolate and listen to one of numerous school, church, or community music groups that perform nightly. It's a festive holiday tradition not to be missed (check the zoo for information on which animals are visible, as not all animal exhibits are open during ZooLights).
- May 15 through September 15: 8am to 6pm. Grounds open until 7pm
- September 16 through May 14: 9am to 4pm. Grounds open until 5pm
- The zoo is open every day except December 25
- Adults (12-64): $10.50
- Seniors (65 and over): $9
- Children (3-11): $7.50
- Infants (2 and under): Free
- Parking: $2/car
- Second Tuesdays: On the second Tuesday of every month admission to the zoo is the discounted price of $4 per person
- Metro Stop:
- Portland's light rail train (MAX) stops at the nearby Washington Park station approximately every ten minutes
- Location: 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland, OR
- Phone: 503-226-1561
- Website: www.oregonzoo.org