The Oregon Zoo – Great for Kids, But…

The Oregon Zoo – Great for Kids, But…


Address: 4001 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland OR 97221— Get directions
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“Hey, Morgan,” says I. “How about we go to the Oregon Zoo?”

“That sounds great,” says Morgan. “This is Portland after all. I bet we can get a beer, sit in the shade, and watch the polar bears frolic all afternoon.”

Our first stop on the way was the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Living Memorial. It was inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC and very well done. Now, on to the zoo.

We had visited the National Zoo in Washington DC when we lived there and I had seen the St. Louis Zoo many years ago, so I thought that Morgan’s vision of this zoo utopia both possible and appealing. So much so that we even asked the lady at the ticket kiosk about the cost of membership, imagining long, warm afternoons with visitors watching the animals and the people. In other words, making the zoo ours much as we have the Rose Garden. After all, we live within walking distance.

We couldn’t have been more more wrong. The places where the animals are kept are small, benches for comfortable viewing are non existent, and worse of all, the animals seem despondent and in many cases scruffy.

Having said all that, the kids seem to have a great time. There are all sorts of interactive learning inventions with age-appropriate explanations. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that, like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, this venue is for the wee ones.

There were some highlights. We enjoyed watching the otters and Steller sea lions frolic under water. The penguins were also interesting, although most of them spent their time scratching. Morgan suggested that they were molting.

The construction workers were digging everywhere in preparation for an expansion. Perhaps that will help.

I asked Morgan what was his favorite part of the zoo experience. “When the two black bears got into a fight. That was cool.” And oh, by the way, they do not serve beer anywhere but in the dining room at the Zoo’s grill restaurant. One certainly cannot sit on a shady bench enjoying a frosty IPA.

Bottom line, there are plenty of other things to do in Portland. So unless you have kids to entertain and educate, we would suggest skipping the zoo. And if you do have kids, we would recommend taking them to a national park instead.

Here are photos of some of the animals that were awake (well except for the mountain lion).

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