Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington is an urban oasis of flora and fauna, located just north of the Seattle Center and the world famous Space Needle. The Zoo’s 90 + acres houses approximately 1100 animals, representing nearly 300 species. Woodland Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos on the West Coast, and has been thriving and growing since 1899.
In addition to the variety of animals at Woodland Park Zoo, the Woodland Park Zoo is also proud (and rightly so) of their work with 35 endangered animal species and 5 threatened species. The Zoo also boasts an extensive botanical collection, including native medicinal plants. Most of the animal exhibits are designed to allow close, yet safe, interaction between the human visitors and the animal residents, using clear glass, naturally planted exhibit grounds, safety pits and unobtrusive electrified fencing.
Woodland Park Zoo has won five prestigious awards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – Trail of Vines, Tropical Rain Forest, Northern Trail, Elephant Forest and African Savanna (my personal favorite!).
The African Savannah – A recreated African schoolhouse is the viewing area and background sounds plays through hidden speakers. There are often activities, games and music in ‘the schoolhouse’ and occasionally, on weekends, African storytellers enchant the children and adults alike. The giraffes, zebras, gazelles, monkeys and hippos wander freely through this huge compound, all the while the discreet fencing and enclosures keeping the humans safe.
“Bug” World – This indoor exhibit seems to fascinate little boys, and often, you can see mom and dad searching for their children in the Bug World building, finding them with their faces pressed tight against the glass, listening to the Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches or trying to count the legs on the Giant Millipede. You can see the interior of a busy beehive, watch Giant Waterbugs (maybe even catch a glimpse of tiny white dots on their backs – their eggs!) and hear the clicking conversations between bug buddies. I enjoy Bug World, especially if I am trying to gross out a friend that has come to visit!
Tropical Rain Forest – This warm, indoor exhibit is perfect for getting out of a sudden rain shower. Gorillas, jaguars (the feline, not the car), monkeys, toucans, parrots, ocelots, monkeys,frogs, birds and Asian Sun Bears roam the tropical exhibit. Lions and tigers have their individual enclosures nearby and the humongous Komodo Dragon all make this part of Woodland Park Zoo their home.
Nocturnal Exhibit – Who would have ever thought that bats could be so graceful, so elegant even. In the darkened nocturnal building, you can see all kinds of night and desert animals, including bats!
Northern Trail – The Northern Trail enclosure has covered areas for viewing otters, bears and eagles. Part of the Northern Trail exhibit is the indoor Tundra Center featuring a panoramic tundra mural and a short video about the Athabascan people of Alaska. brown bears, elk, deer and wolves roam here, safe from the humans and comfortable in their surroundings. I could sit and watch the majestic elk for hours!
Tropical Asia – The Elephant Barn and Elephant exhibits take up most of the room in this exhibit, but take a walk through The Trail of Vines to enjoy orangutans and other Asian animals.
A must see for me whenever I get a chance to visit Woodland Park Zoo is the interactive Discovery Barn – The Discovery Barn is filled with activities and touchy feely things to do. I recommend taking a kid along with you, if possible, because for some darned reason, grown ups get a bit weird when an adult spends an hour counting snake vertebrae without bringing a child or two along.
Woodland Park Zoo is open 365 days a year, including holidays! For dining choices, I almost always stick to the Asian style food at Bamboo Hut, but there is everything from burgers, pizza and hot dogs, to delicious fresh made Mexican food. Restrooms are spread throughout the enormous grounds, but you may have to look for them, because they are somewhat disguised with faux boulders and plantings.
Besides chowing down on some really decent food, be sure to stop in at the Woodland Park Zoo Store on your way out for souvenirs. Well, they make it rather difficult NOT to stop in the Zoo Store, because the exit is through the store, but still, you can find souvenirs in every price range, and they have some yummy fudge too!