Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Z is for zoo (Portlandia from A to Z)


As much as I enjoy writing these A to Z posts, I am delighted to say this is my last one for another year! Z is for the Oregon Zoo, which is located in Washington Park, 2 miles from downtown. It opened in 1888 when a private animal collector, Richard Knight, donated two bears to the City of Portland, making it the oldest North American zoo west of the Mississippi. Knight began collecting wild animals and keeping them in the back of his drugstore on Third & Morrison, until it got to be too much for him to handle. By 1894 the zoo had over 300 animals. The 64-acre zoo is Oregon's largest paid attraction, with more than 1.6 million visitors a year.
First animals in the Oregon Zoo--such a sad little cage.
The zoo gained real popularity when it bought Rosy, an Asian elephant, and then became even more popular when Packy was born in 1962...the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years, and the tallest Asian elephant in the U.S. (10.5 feet tall). Since then, 28 more elephants have been born at the zoo in the most successful zoo elephant breeding program in the world. On August 23, 2008 (my oldest son's birthday), Samudra was born. My 7-year-old Nicholas was obsessed with Samudra when he was little, after we went to see the baby elephant shortly after his second birthday. He thinks of Samudra as "his" elephant. Of all three of our boys, Nicholas is the one who has loved the zoo and the animals the most.

In November 2012, Samudra had a little sister, Lily. The zoo's elephant program has been mired in controversy, though, as animal rights activists seek to free the elephants. If you want to see some cuteness, watch Lily's first year in two minutes.


I have many childhood memories from visiting the zoo, which was different when I was younger. The zoo used to have a scary Halloween zoo train--I remember my sister hiding under the seat when we were going through the completely dark tunnel! The zoo train is one of my favorite things about the zoo--that and the otters and sea lions.

Old entrance to the zoo
We've been to a few concerts at the zoo, the most recent being Cyndi Lauper in 2010. Here are some zoo photos through the years. Enjoy!

Visiting the zoo with my friends Jeannette and Amila in 1982 (with Packy?)
Celebrating Chris' first birthday at the zoo, 1997

Kieran at the zoo, Halloween 2004

With Kieran near the monkey exhibit

Elephant play area

Our family on the zoo train when I was pregnant with Nicholas

At the mountain goat exhibit

Kieran wearing his "Big Brother" t-shirt

Kieran and Nicholas

At the African Serengeti exhibit
Making faces
Samudra
The lines to meet Samudra
Kieran with his elephant hat
Playing in the African exhibit area
Riding an elephant tricycle
In the play jeep

On the zoo train
Tattooed Kieran

Lily is born!





This was the era when Nicholas wore his Indiana Jones shirt everywhere!


My three boys with a mountain goat in the background

My baby who celebrated his first birthday at the zoo!
I hope you've enjoyed my Portlandia from A to Z posts. You can read all of them here. Let me know if you have suggestions for next year!

1 comment:

  1. My kids and I LOVE the zoo. Our (Philadelphia) Zoo used to have elephants but some years ago they closed down the elephant portion and shipped them off to other zoos. :( I still miss them.

    Visiting from A to Z. http://iamclothedwithjoy.com/2014/04/30/zany/

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