Not long ago, over my spring break, my son stayed with my mom while I went to Portland, Oregon to see some friends and look for places to potentially move into once I graduate college in May 2016. While I was there, a friend and I visited the Portland Zoo and had a blast. We were supposed to meet some other people there, but never got connected with them. Still, we had plenty of fun nonetheless and I got some nice photos that I will share with you all.
The Portland Zoo is part of a condor rehabilitation program, in which condors are hand raised, taught to avoid humans, and eventually released back into the wild. I think this is an excellent endeavor and it is one small thing that humans can do to help correct some of the damage we have done to the natural world. Of course we still have a long way to go before we’ve even scratched the surface of fixing things, and some of the damage is irreparable, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Near the condor enclosure, there is an informative video that plays on a loop about this program.
African wildlife is among the most diverse and easily my favorite geographic location, so we spent lots of time in that part of the zoo. We started with this pair of giraffes, and I was quite surprised at how the picture turned out given that I am visually impaired and cannot see the camera screen. I simply pointed it toward the giraffes and had to keep my fingers crossed they made it into the photo, but the results were much better than I expected as I thought for certain I’d only be able to capture one of them. The funny thing is that I took several photos, and the first wasn’t very good, but they kept getting progressively better and better until I ended up with this one, the last giraffe photo I took.
For $2.50 you can get a key that goes into various boxes spread around the zoo which tell you verbally about the animals. The giraffe enclosure had one of those boxes. Did you know that, despite their extraordinarily long necks, giraffes have the same number of neck bones as humans do? The only difference is that each bone is much larger, and a lot stronger, as are their powerful neck muscles.
We headed toward the big cats, but along the way, we passed the gazelle enclosure. Unfortunately there were not any gazelles to be photographed out in the open, so we continued on our way. We did pass by a sign though, with a picture of a Speke’s gazelle, which I’d never heard of before. I am familiar with Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, but never heard of any others. Speaking of gazelles, and giraffes that I mentioned before, did you know that both are a type of antelope? Gazelles make much easier prey for big cats than do giraffes though.
On the way toward the big cats, my favorite of all African wildlife, we passed by an enormous stone Baobab tree, pronounced ‘bay-o-bab’,a tree that is native to Africa, but in this case was just a statue. The trunk was enormous though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they built this tree to scale, meaning that the real trees have just as wide a girth as the one in this photograph. Just out of curiosity, I actually walked a circle around this tree and it took me about twenty-four steps to encircle it completely. That’s a huge tree!
Not far from that tree were the big cats. There were several lions out in the open and visible. The keeper who told us about them said that there was a single male, a couple of adult females, a few older cubs, and a few younger cubs. I don’t remember for sure but I want to say the pride size was about seven or eight. I believe she said that the male lion had been chosen as father of the year as well. She told us a cute story though about how the young cubs were bugging the male, wanting to play, and how he fiercely scolded them for it, but a few minutes later was cuddling with them. I thought that was very cute.
Around the corner from that was an enclosure with two male cheetahs, both of which were very close to the viewing window. I absolutely love the beautiful spotted coat, worn both by cheetahs and leopards. They are in my opinion some of the most beautiful cats on the planet. It was pretty awesome to have these two cheetahs so close not only to the viewing window but also to each other so that I could capture them both in a photo.
The last animal that I was able to photograph were the elephants. We went by them and, near the enclosure, I read a plaque about an elephant that had died long ago, but was remembered as the captive elephant with the most calves of its time, a total of nineteen of them. It was kind of cool reading about that elephant.
There were some other animals I didn’t get to photograph, a hippo that was almost impossible to see, some flamingos, and a few others, and a few petting areas I did not really visit, as well as several animals such as the bears and tigers that I did not visit on that trip but will on a future one. Still, we did get to see a lot of really cool things.
They even had a section for kids that had a giant plastic toybox with shovels, rakes, and other gardening tools, as well as garden gloves, and soft soil in which to dig. I’m certain my son would have loved that if he had been with me.
After I returned from my trip, I showed him the pictures I had taken and asked him to identify the animals in them. He had a hard time with some of them, except the giraffes which he got immediately, as well as the elephants, but he’s only turning four in two days so that is to be expected. I had fun sharing those photos with him, and look forward to bringing him to the Portland Zoo next year.
What’s even better is that on the second Tuesday of every month, they discount admission to only $4, and even better than that is that if you can prove you took public transit to get there, you get an additional $1.50 off. This means that not only do you avoid paying for parking, but you get into the zoo for a whopping $2.50 per person. That is pretty awesome! On top of that, most zoos I have been to aren’t even accessible by public transportation, for example the one in Austin, Texas. This makes the Portland Zoo even more appealing to me since I do not drive.
As we left the zoo, I decided to stop into the gift shop and get a souvenir for my son. We looked around the entire shop and I finally settled on a stuffed otter, an animal that was unlike any other stuffed animal he already had. He really likes his otter and it was a well spent $20.
Have you been to the Portland Zoo? What about zoos in other cities? What was your favorite zoo experience ever? Share your zoo stories in the comments.
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