Oregon Zoo receives two prestigious honors in one day

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Zoo earns Travel Portland's top tourism award and a first place in DJC's TopProjects

It was a big day for local animal lovers yesterday, as the Oregon Zoo received two high-profile honors in just around 10 hours.

In the morning, the zoo won the prestigious Portland Award at Travel Portland's 33rd annual tourism and hospitality industry awards, held at the Oregon Convention Center.

Later in the afternoon, at the Portland Art Museum, the zoo's new Veterinary Medical Center took first place at the Daily Journal of Commerce's 2012 TopProjects awards ceremony, honoring the most outstanding building projects in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Each year, Travel Portland honors businesses and people who have made a significant impact on the region's tourism industry and quality of life. The Portland Award recognizes the top overall contribution to the region's visitor profile during the past year.

KGW news anchor Russ Lewis, who served as emcee for the Travel Portland ceremony, noted that the zoo is the most-visited paid attraction in the state, and praised its dedication to species conservation and education. Lewis also noted that the zoo puts sustainability at the forefront of its operations and is working to become the greenest zoo in the world.

The zoo's commitment to sustainability was evident in the design and construction of its Veterinary Medical Center, which took first place in DJC's TopProjects awards (public buildings, $5.1 million to $15 million, category).

Designed to keep zoo animals and the environment healthy, the facility meets LEED silver certification standards for sustainability. Zoo veterinary staff worked with Peck Smiley Ettlin Architects and contractors Skanska USA to develop the 15,000-square-foot center, which includes spacious treatment and surgery rooms as well as holding areas that keep animals of all types comfortable, whether they fly, swim, prowl or swing from branch to branch.

"Either of these awards on its own would be a great honor," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "But two in one day is just incredible. These awards not only recognize the Oregon Zoo's commitment to wildlife, but also its responsibility to the community and significant impact on the regional economy."

Travel Portland is the official destination marketing organization for the city of Portland. Its mission is to strengthen the local economy by marketing the greater Portland region as a preferred destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travel.