I have so many wonderful childhood memories of Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. I spent a lot of time there as a child, as my grandparents lived close by and we went there often. I loved it so much, especially the gorillas known as Bobo and Fifi.
Fast forward more than fifty years. Here I am again enjoying this beautiful park and zoo in the north Seattle Green Lake neighborhood because my oldest son now works there. Lucky me. I get to go visit the animals and my son at the same time!
Woodland Park Zoo has changed a great deal over the years. All for the better. The history of the zoo goes all the way back to 1893 when millionaire Guy Phinney passed away and his English estate complete with deer park near Green Lake became a public park. Through dozens of iterations this property would become the Woodland Park Zoo we know today.
As a child I remember the zoo as very large, although I know now it wasn’t. The animals were all “caged” and you would walk from the lion cage around the corner to the monkey cage around the corner to the bear cage.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s interest in the zoo expanded as well as interest in creating a more sustainable and authentic environment for the animals. After several bond failures a Forward Thrust bond was approved in 1968 and a new future for the zoo was born. Re-visioning the zoo continued into the 2000’s with Asian Elephant Forest exhibit, Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, Education Center, ZooStore, Animal Health Complex, Northern Trail exhibit and Trail of Vines exhibit being constructed between 1987 and 1996. From 2001-2015 the newly developed Woodland Park Zoological Society raised private donations for the African Village, Jaguar Cove, Zoomazium, Humboldt penguin exhibit and Banyan Wilds as well as the restoration of the historic carousel.
Today the zoo is home to 1098 animals from 300 species including 35 endangered and 5 threatened. The animals are in beautifully laid out exhibits that emulate the native environment of the species all while allowing visitors to feel up close and personal with these well cared for and beautiful creatures. Just two months ago a baby giraffe was born after much excitement and anticipation and is now available for visitors to view.
Woodland Park Zoo is also home to a beautiful rose garden where weddings are frequent in the summer. Zoo Tunes is a very popular outdoor concert series and one of the many events my son works on. Throughout the year other events take place including a wine event, a beer event, WildLights Christmas display, a bunny hop at Easter and many more family friendly activities for the community.
Personally for me I couldn’t be happier that my son is a part of this wonderful place and the organization tasked with maintaining it for future generations. I love how it is today, and I loved how it was when I was a child. So few things in our society get better and better. Woodland Park Zoo is one of those.
Visit again or for the first time. You will love it.
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Cover photo – my husband and son Dane, 1987 at Woodland Park Zoo
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