As of the summer of 2010[update], the zoo includes 92 acres (37 ha) of exhibits and public spaces. It is open to the public daily, and welcomed 1.05 million visitors in 2006. Its collection includes:
Woodland Park Zoo has won more Best National Exhibit awards from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums than any other zoological institution except the Bronx Zoo in New York. It has long been a pioneer in the field of immersion exhibits: Woodland Park Zoo created what is generally considered the world's first immersion exhibit, a gorilla habitat, which opened in the late 1970s under the direction of David Hancocks.
African Savanna - This also earned national Best Exhibit honors. The first of its kind when it opened in 1980, WPZ's savanna inspired the building of similar exhibits across the country. The visitor enters through a model Africanvillage, which blends in elements of African culture as well as important messages about the human/animal balance in conservation. The main "savanna" houses giraffes, zebras, gazelles, oryxes, and ostriches, while two connected exhibits house hippopotamus and patas monkeys. During the summer, visitors may hand-feed the giraffes for a small fee during scheduled Giraffe Feeding Experience sessions. Hidden moats allow these yards to appear to be part of a continuous landscape. In addition to the herbivores, two separate exhibits house African lions and African warthogs.
Temperate Forest- The Temperate Forest exhibit is home to a variety of animals from temperate regions of Asia, North America, and South America. It includes an aviary with a number of exotic birds, including hornbills and pheasants, as well as yards for cranes, red pandas, and a marsh exhibit featuring local waterfowl species. In 2008 a small exhibit was opened in the Temperate Forest area featuring Chilean flamingos and southern pudús, which have bred successfully at WPZ. In 2014, a pair of cheetah were temporarily housed in this area, part of a reinterpretation called "Wildlife Survival Zone", which also features a small alcove spotlighting the zoo's efforts to restore the native western pond turtle.
Woodland Park Zoo Carousel
Other highlight animals at Woodland Park Zoo include a Raptor Center and accompanying flight demonstration, and lowland anoa. Woodland Park Zoo also includes a "Family Farm" exhibit and the Bug World. In the Adaptations building visitors can find meerkats, added in 2010, as well as nocturnal animals including Indian flying fox and sloths.
The zoo also houses a hand-carved carousel, originally built for the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, head carver John Zalar. In the 1970s, the carousel was moved to Santa Clara, California, where it operated into the 1990s. It was donated to Woodland Park Zoo by the Alleniana Foundation, and opened May 1, 2007 in a new pavilion on the zoo's North Meadow.
In May 2009, WPZ opened a new 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) Humboldt penguin exhibit. The outdoor enclosure is designed to recreate the penguin's native habitat in Peru, and features cliffs and pools. The exhibit is also designed to use green energy, such as geothermal power.
Bobo's successors live in a modern landscaped enclosure with glass panels that allow visitors to get up close without disturbing the gorillas.
From 1953 to 1968, WPZ was home to Bobo, a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla, the same species as the gorillas currently living at the zoo). WPZ acquired Bobo from the Lowman family of Anacortes, Washington, who had purchased the gorilla as an infant from a hunter in Columbus, Ohio in 1951 and had raised him in their family home in Anacortes. Bobo drew many visitors to the zoo and was one of Seattle's main attractions in the years preceding the construction of Seattle Center and the expansion of major-league professional sports into the city; his popularity is credited with helping the zoo obtain funding to build a new primate house.
Anthropologist Dawn Prince-Hughes spent many years working at Woodland Park Zoo and observing the western lowland gorillas there, which she wrote about in her book Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism.