One of my favorite activities is a trip to a zoo. Whether traveling, for business or pleasure, or spending time in your own town, by yourself or in a group, a zoo is an attraction for young and old. In Seattle, I have observed teens, couples, single wanderers, and even wedding parties at the zoo, imitating children in wide-eyed amazement as they wander the grounds. It is a happy place to visit, though it presents the down side of wildlife, as well. Volunteers and staff educate visitors about wildlife extinction.
In 1899, the City of Seattle purchased the grounds of Woodland Park Zoo [WPZ]. In 1902, the Olmstead Brothers (famous for designing Central Park in New York) designed the zoo grounds. When first opened, the animals were in simple bare cages. Over the course of its 100+ years, WPZ has been recognized and awarded for its forward-thinking and innovative direction. It is a leader in the zoo community in building animal habitats (called biomes) closely similar to the natural environments of the animals. When you look across the African Savanna, from any viewpoint, you do not see other visitors, only the animals. Visiting the Northern Trail you imagine the Roosevelt Elk in the wild with the Gray Wolves nearby, though divided by a hard-to-see fence and deep gully. Seeing the Malayan tigers in the Banyan Wilds is an exhibit to teach visitors the plight of their extinction. In addition, the penguins always bring smiles and laughter of their antics at feeding time.
There are over 1,000 animals contained on the 92 acres of the WPZ, just 10 minutes from downtown Seattle. From the Arctic Fox to the Zebras, to Zoomazium, Bug World, or the historic Carousel, from ages 2 to 92 there is something for everyone to enjoy. Day Camps for kids, Zoo Tune concerts in the summer, and Zoo Lights during the winter holidays, WPZ presents a year of exciting exhibits. You can see the major exhibits in a couple hours or enjoy all the areas in about four.
Whether a member or a one-day visitor, part of the admission from over one-million visitors, goes to the Quarters for Conservation Program, which helps the zoo save endangered animals. WPZ, known throughout the world for animal care, education, and conservation, “saves animals and creates lifelong memories that inspire people to conserve the natural world. Every gift of time or money, large or small, helps the zoo build a better community.”
Rain or shine, WPZ is open 364 days a year (closed Christmas). 5500 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, 98103.