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River otter pups Flora and Hobson explore the Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. ©Oregon Zoo/ photo by Shervin Hess

Visitors can take in new ‘Washed Ashore’ exhibit and celebrate World Wetlands Day

Visitors to the Oregon Zoo will be treated to free admission on Saturday, Feb. 1, as the zoo celebrates World Wetlands Day. Guests can enjoy keeper talks and activities highlighting some of the many animals that depend on wetlands, such as river otters, beavers and flamingos.

Visitors can also check out the zoo’s new “Washed Ashore” exhibit — a series of giant sea-life sculptures made from ocean debris that debuted at the zoo last week. Each sculpture is made from found materials in the hopes of raising awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans.

“There’s something irresistibly mysterious about wetlands,” said Dr. Don Moore, zoo director. “And it’s amazing to learn how important they are. We have a full day of activities scheduled on Saturday, and we hope everyone who comes through the gates is inspired to help create a better future for wildlife.”

From noon to 3 p.m., wildlife experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service will lead wetlands-themed activities inside the zoo’s Nature Exploration Station, while in the Great Northwest area, guests can learn about our “ancient neighbor,” the Pacific lamprey — a recent arrival at the zoo.

Other wetlands-related activities include the following:


  • 10:45 a.m. – Species Conservation Lab talk (Nature Exploration Station)
  • 11:30 a.m. – crocodile feeding (Africa Rainforest area)
  • 1 p.m. – flamingo keeper talk (Africa Rainforest area)
  • 1:30 p.m. – river otter keeper talk (Cascade Marsh area)
  • 2:30 p.m. –​ duck keeper talk in the (Cascade Marsh area)

The official World Wetlands Day — commemorating the 1971 adoption of the Convention on Wetlands — is held each year on Feb. 2, but the zoo is holding its celebration a day early so more people are able to attend.

Zoo hours Saturday are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the usual weekend animal activities will also be taking place:


  • 9:45 a.m. – mountain goat feeding
  • 11:30 a.m. – condor talk
  • 11:30 a.m. – chimpanzee talk
  • 12:30 p.m. – Asian elephant talk
  • 1 p.m. – reptile talk at Family Farm
  • 2 p.m. – giraffe talk
  • 2:15 p.m. – sea otter talk
  • 2:15 p.m. – penguin talk
  • 3 p.m. – bat talk

“Community free days are typically busy ones for the zoo,” Dr. Moore said. “One tip for making your visit more enjoyable is to ride MAX to the zoo. You avoid traffic, don’t have to worry about parking — and the Washington Park stop lets you off just steps from the zoo entrance.”

For more information on getting to the zoo, visit Explore Washington Park. For TriMet fare and route information, call 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org.

As part of the Metro family, the Oregon Zoo helps make greater Portland a great place to call home. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and northern leopard frogs. Other projects focused on saving animals from extinction include studies on polar bears, orangutans and cheetahs.

Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world.

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