So, as you might recall, the Kwan family went on a bit of a road trip south of the border for spring break. Last week, I showed you around our hotel room at the Aloft Portland Airport. This week, I offer some highlights from the Oregon Zoo, including the Oregon Zoo train (“Zooliner”), plus some of the wildlife on display. Does your zoo have a train?

For some reason or another, we oftentimes feel compelled to visit the local zoos and aquariums when we go traveling. Portland, Oregon was no exception; in fact, the Oregon Zoo was one of the first things I added to our “to-do list” for this Pacific Northwest road trip.

It’s been several years since we last visited the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. And we’ve never been there with the kiddo. She has been to Vancouver Aquarium, however. For the time being, Oregon Zoo appears to be undergoing a series of upgrade projects, like the new polar bear lands to open up in 2020. As a result, not all of the zoo was really available to us during our visit.

From what I understand, the Zooliner Oregon Zoo train used to run a much longer route through Washington Park where the zoo is located. Unfortunately, they deemed unsafe “some of the wooden retaining walls and supporting structures along the route” in 2014. A landslide in 2015 further exacerbated the issue. There’s ongoing debate about what to do at this point, whether to repair the railway or to convert the route into something else.

Thankfully, we were able to visit with a wide variety of animals at the Oregon Zoo. The lions, cheetahs and elephants were probably the biggest highlights (terrible pun intended) for us, though I really enjoyed watching the frenzied activity of the African wild dogs too. And the multi-species bat colony.

For my part, while places like the San Diego Zoo get the lion’s share (yes, another pun) of attention, I’m still partial to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Australia Zoo outside of Brisbane is pretty good too. And then there’s the small but charming Central Park Zoo in New York City as well. We should go back to the Big Apple to check out the Queens Zoo and the Bronx Zoo.

We thought about visiting the Wildlife Safari, with its drive-through open park experience, but that’s another three hours of driving south of Portland. Maybe next time. Do you have a favorite local zoo or aquarium? What creatures do you most look forward to seeing when you visit?

Oregon Zoo vulture