Asian elephants at the zoo
|Location||Washington Park, Portland, Oregon, USA|
|Land area||64 acres (26 ha)|
|Number of animals||2,200|
|Number of species||260|
|Annual visitors||1.6 million (2011)|
|Major exhibits||The Great Northwest, Predators of the Serengeti, Africa Rainforest, Steller Cove|
The Oregon Zoo, formerly the Washington Park Zoo, is a zoo in Portland, the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of Downtown Portland, the zoo is inside Portland's Washington Park, and includes a narrow-gauge railway that connects to the International Rose Test Garden inside the park. Opened in 1888 after a private animal collector donated his animals to the City of Portland, the 64-acre (26 ha) zoo is now owned by the regional Metro government.
A member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, it has successful breeding programs for California Condors and Asian elephants. The zoo also boasts an extensive plant collection throughout its animal exhibits and specialized gardens. During the summer it is host to a concert series, and in the winter produces ZooLights, a holiday light show. The Oregon Zoo is Oregon's largest paid attraction, with more than 1.6 million visitors in 2008 to 2009.
The Oregon Zoo was founded in 1888, making it the oldest North American zoo west of the Mississippi. It all began with two bears purchased by Richard Knight, one brown bear and one grizzly. A former seaman turned pharmacist, Knight began collecting animals from his seafaring friends. He kept his collection in the back of his drug store on Third & Morrison streets. When caring for the animals became too large a responsibility he sought to sell them to the city of Portland. Instead of buying the animals, the city offered to give Knight two circus cages and allowed him to place the caged bears on the grounds of City Park (now called Washington Park).
Care and feeding of the bears, however, still fell to the Knight family and friends. It wasn't long before Knight addressed the city council again regarding the bears. Just five months later, he offered to donate the bears, along with their cages, to the city. Portland City Council accepted his offer on November 7, 1888, and thus began the Portland Zoo. Located in Washington Park, it was sometimes referred to as the Washington Park Zoo.
By 1894 there were over 300 animals in the zoo’s collection. In 1925, the zoo moved to the site of the present Portland Japanese Garden, still within Washington Park.
The zoo moved again in 1958–59 to its current site, designed by Lawrence, Tucker & Wallmann. This was located in Hoyt Park, west of Washington Park, but some years later the two parks were combined as Washington Park. At this time, the Portland Zoo Railway was constructed to connect the zoo to its former site in Washington Park and other attractions there. The zoo's move to the new, much larger site was made in stages, over more than a year, with the first animals being moved in spring 1958 and limited public access being opened in June 1958, one day after the first section of the Zoo Railway opened. During the transition period the new zoo was only open on weekends, as most animals were still at the old site awaiting completion of their new enclosures. However, the new railway operated six days a week until mid-September. Meanwhile, the old zoo remained in operation, but in May 1959 was restricted to pedestrian access only, closed to automobile access, for its last months of operation.
The zoo at its current site opened on July 3, 1959. It was renamed the Portland Zoological Gardens at that time, but remained commonly known as the Portland Zoo. The elephants and big cats were not moved to the new zoo until November. A new interchange was constructed on the adjacent freeway, the Sunset Highway, for better access to the new zoo.
The zoo became popular locally in 1953, when Rosy the Asian elephant was acquired. The zoo became world-famous in 1962 when the Asian elephant "Packy" was born. He was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years and is (as of 2010) the tallest Asian elephant in the United States at 10.5 ft (3.2 m) tall. A total of 28 more calves have been born at the Oregon Zoo, including seven sired by Packy (two of which still live with him), making it the most successful zoo elephant breeding program in the world. On August 23, 2008, Rose-Tu, the granddaughter of the zoo's first elephant Rosy, gave birth to a son named Samudra. This makes Samudra the first third generation captive born elephant in North America.
Until 1971, the zoo was operated by the City, and then by the Portland Zoological Society under contract to the City. In 1976, area voters approved a tax levy plan under which the zoo was taken over by the Metropolitan Service District (or MSD, now known as Metro). Ownership of the zoo passed to Metro on July 1, 1976. Metro has continued expansion projects, aided by donors, sponsors and volunteers.
The Metro Council changed the zoo's name from the Washington Park Zoo to the Oregon Zoo in April 1998. In September of that year, the zoo became accessible by the region's MAX light rail system, with the opening of a Westside MAX line featuring an underground Washington Park station. In 2003, the zoo began participation in a California condor recovery program started by San Diego Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo. The program is designed to breed California condors to be released into the wild and save them from extinction.
In November 2008 regional voters approved a $125 million bond measure to improve infrastructure, enhance older exhibits and increase access to conservation education and the degree of sustainability. Attendance at the zoo reached a record 1.6 million visitors for their 2008 to 2009 year. The record was due in part to the birth of another baby elephant. A new record was set the following year with 1,612,359 people visiting the zoo.
Opened in 1991, the Africa Rainforest exhibit covers 1.3 acres (5,300 m2) and was built at a cost of $4.3 million. In addition to animals, the exhibit includes artwork and the Kongo Ranger Station, a mock up of a safari expedition. Animals in the exhibit include Rodriguez Fruit Bats, Straw-Colored Fruit Bats, Egyptian Fruit Bats, King Colobus Monkey, Allen's Swamp Monkey, Red Flanked Duiker, Hadada Ibis, Saddle-billed Stork, White-Faced Whistling Ducks, Slender-snouted Crocodile, Nile Monitor Lizard, Lungfish, Cichlids, Lesser Flamingos and Hooded Vultures.
The Africa Savanna exhibit opened in April 1989 and is 4 acres (16,000 m2) in size. This exhibit includes animals typical of East Africa and includes an aviary and areas for large mammals. These include Black Rhinoceros, De Brazza's Monkey, Hippopotamus, Naked Mole-Rat, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, Egyptian Spiny MouseSpeke's Gazelle, Southern Ground Hornbill, Weaver Birds, Marabou Storks, Cape Thick-Knee, Red-crested Turaco, Hamerkop, Buffalo Weaver, Hingeback Tortoises, African crested porcupines, and Spiny-Tailed Lizards.
Predators of the Serengeti
Predators of the Serengeti, which opened in September 2009, covers 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) and cost $6.8 million to build. It is located on the site of the former Alaska Tundra exhibit, with some of the animals from the Alaska exhibit moved to other locations inside the zoo, such as the wolf exhibit. Animals in the Serengeti exhibit include Lions, Cheetahs, African Wild Dogs, Caracals, Scorpions, Dwarf mongoose, red-billed hornbill, and African Rock Python. The zoo previously had lions, but closed the exhibit in 1998 and converted the area into Steller Cove. The three new lions come from zoos in California, Virginia and Wisconsin. On September 4, 2013, it was announced that five-year-old Neka, one of the zoo's two female lions, was pregnant and would likely soon give birth, it then happened in late 2013, as she gave birth to three cubs, named Kamali, Zalika and Angalia respectively.
Amazon Flooded Forest
This exhibit opened in September, 2001. It simulates the Amazonian basin during its seasonal floods. Visitors can view the flooded environment from either above or below the water. Animals in the exhibit include Pygmy Marmoset, Ocelot, Agouti, Black Howler Monkey, Pale-Faced Saki Monkey, Brazilian Cockroach, Arrau Turtle, Red-handed Tamarin, Blue Poison Dart Frog, Dwarf Caiman, Emerald Tree Boa, Yellow-banded Poison Dart, Cardinal Tetra, Heckel Discus, Orange Spot, Pacu, Arawana, Plecostomus, Green Anacondas, and Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
Four female (Sung-Surin "Shine", Rose-Tu, Chendra, and Lily) and four male (Packy, Rama, Tusko, Samudra "Sam") Asian elephants are displayed at the popular elephant exhibit. All were born at the zoo, except Chendra and Tusko, who were born in the wild. Chendra is the only Borneo Elephant in the United States. The exhibit is currently 1.5 acres (6,100 m2), but there are plans to expand it to 6 acres (24,000 m2) under the 2008 bond measure. On November 30, 2012, at 2:17 a.m., Rose-Tu and Tusko (who are also the parents of Samudra) had a female calf Lily, weighing about 300 lbs(136 kg) at birth. There is a swimming hole in which up to ten elephants can simultaneously completely submerge, sandy ground for comfortable walking and a scratching station, which the elephants often choose to scratch their head, sides, belly, etc. In late 2013 construction began for the exhibit to be much larger, and contain a variety of terrain. The exhibit will now be called Elephant Lands and it is in the same location as the Elk and Wolves (now gone) once were. Their new habitat will be completed in Autumn of 2015.
There are eight bears in three separate bear exhibits. Two Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) are located in an exhibit that is designed to mimic the area near Hudson Bay in Canada. One female, Tasul, and her brother named Conrad, are easily viewed. The exhibit previously had another female, Yugyan, but she was euthanized in August 2008 due to kidney failure. The exhibit opened in 1986 and has two pools of water for the animals, one for winter and one for summer. There are two Malaysian sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) in a tropical forest environment simulated in part with heat producing artificial trees. Both bears are females, named Vivian and Jody. The Great Northwest exhibit's Black Bear Ridge has four black bears added in April 2010 after the previous three had been euthanized for health reasons.
This exhibit has animatronic dinosaurs meant to replicate the dinosaurs from the prehistoric world. It was called DINOSAURS! sponsored by Wells Fargo, it was open from May to September 2008. The dinosaurs were Parasaurolophus, Megalosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Rhamphorhynchus (not a dinosaur), Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Compsognathus, Deinonychus and Iguanodon and also includes a map of the timeline, baby dinosaurs, a dig site, a fossil to make the fossils back together and toys in the Elephant Museum.
The zoo operated a new exhibit, which ran during the summers of 2010 and 2011, with new dinosaurs, called Prehistoric Predators. The dinosaurs featured were Edmontosaurus, Baryonyx, Styracosaurus, Troodon, Dilophosaurus (returning and also having a juvenile), Therizinosaurus, Allosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus (not a dinosaur), Sarcosuchus (not a dinosaur), Cryolophosaurus, Rugops, Kentrosaurus, Deltadromeus, Giganotosaurus, Brachiosaurus (returning but in a new spot), Carnotaurus, and Amargasaurus. The exhibit also has a dig site, with fossil parts of various dinosaurs, and dinosaur toys are available in the Elephant Museum.
This exhibit includes wildlife from the western portions of the Pacific Northwest, and has eight areas: Black Bear Ridge, Eagle Canyon, Cascade Stream and Pond, Cougar Crossing, Cascade Crest, Trillium Creek Family Farm, and Steller Cove. Cascade Canyon Trail connects each of the exhibits, except Steller Cove, and includes a suspension bridge that offers views of Black Bear Ridge.
Cascade Stream and Pond is the oldest of these exhibits, and opened in 1982 and features beavers, North American river otters, ring-tailed cats, egrets, and herons. Opened in 1998, Cascade Crest is a mountain-like exhibit made mostly of basalt and features a snow cave, cirque lake, and twisted alpine trees. The 10,920 square feet (1,015 m2) exhibit cost $11.6 million and is located near the entrance to the zoo. The only animals are mountain goats. Black Bear Ridge is the next exhibit along the Cascade Canyon Trail. The $2 million area opened in 2007 and is home to bobcats. The exhibit had three American black bears, but all three were euthanized in 2009 due to various causes. The zoo acquired four new bears from a Utah zoo.
Eagle Canyon is the next exhibit along the trail and has two bald eagles along with Coho salmon in a stream. This 20,800-square-foot (1,930 m2) area opened in 2004. Cougar Crossing comes after Eagle Canyon and features cougars in a 4,260-square-foot (396 m2) facility that opened in 2006. The last area along the Cascade Canyon Trail is the Trillium Creek Family Farm. Opened in 2004 at a cost of $1 million, animals are presented by high school students who also explain local farming historical trends, technology, and demonstrate related activities such as composting, shearing, and agriculture. A variety of domestic animals such as Dexter cattle, Shetland sheep, Guinea hogs, Pygora Goats, Araucana chickens, runner ducks, and domestic rabbits are part of the farm's exhibits. The final area of the Great Northwest Exhibit is the Steller Cove which features animals and plants from the Oregon Coast. The $11 million exhibit opened in 2000 and includes a tide pool and kelp forest populated with Steller Sea Lions, (Eumetopias jubatus), Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris), sea anemones, chiton, limpet, snail, mussel, crab, sea cucumber, urchin, sea star, sculpin, goby, painted greenling, and gunnel.
The zoo also has areas with Humboldt penguins, Inca terns, lories and lorikeets, and the Insect Zoo Hut. Other exhibits include the Cats of the Amur Region which houses Amur leopards and Amur tigers. The Primate Exhibit features chimpanzees, orangutans, White-cheeked gibbons, mandrills, siamangs, Green Iguanas, Desert Iguanas, tree shrews, Burmese pythons, ring-tailed lemurs L'Hoest's monkeys and Francois' langurs. Red Ape Reserve opened September 3, 2010. It is an indoor/outdoor exhibit housing both orangutans and white cheeked gibbons. There are two species of endangered wild pigs in the Asian Pigs exhibit: babirusas and Visayan warty pigs.
The birth of Packy in 1962 began an elephant breeding program at the Oregon Zoo, resulting in a total of 28 calves being born to date, of which seven were sired by Packy. Of these, 15 died prematurely and the whereabouts of two calves are unknown. Some elephants such as Stoney Sabu and Prince were sold to the circus, a few elephants such as Hanako and Dino were loaned to other zoos, whereas Emma and Teak were sold to private buyers.
In December 2012, the baby elephant Lily was born to parents Rose-Tu, herself an elephant born at the zoo, and Tusko, a bull elephant on loan from Have Trunk Will Travel, a company that rents elephants. The Seattle Times brought to light a contract between the zoo and the company according to which the newborn calf Lily was owned by the company. Initially the zoo denied knowledge about the contract, but after widespread public backlash, the zoo raised funds to buy both Tusko and Lily for $400,000.
The zoo has also faced criticism over its use of bullhooks or guides to control elephant behavior, as well as for the prevalence of several ailments such as arthritis, hoof rot, tuberculosis, and behavioral disorders arising from captivity.
The animal welfare organization In Defense of Animals has rated Oregon Zoo on their Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list for five years. The group Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants has been campaigning to end the zoo's captive breeding program and release the elephants to a sanctuary. The zoo is currently expanding the size of the Elephant Exhibit from 1.5 to 6.25 acres. The new exhibit will contain a large variety of habitats for the herd of eight, and it will be completed in the autumn of 2015, creating a much better space for the elephants.
- Wildlife Live! summer shows, weather permitting
- Zoolights: December holiday evenings light display
- Washington Park and Zoo Railway
The zoo is located at the southern boundary of Washington Park, which is also the home of Portland Children's Museum, World Forestry Center, Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Hoyt Arboretum. An adjacent trail system connects the zoo to the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Forest Park.
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