Zoo welcomes summer with extended hours, programs

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Longer hours and more events lead to a summer of fun at the Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is ready to welcome summer, with longer hours and a host of seasonal special events. Beginning Saturday, May 25, zoo gates will open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Visitors may remain on grounds until 7 p.m.

Along with more time to enjoy the animals, zoo visitors will be treated to a summer chock full of events, shows and happenings, including 16 concerts, four Sunset at the Zoo events, the Oregon Zoo Foundation's annual fundraising gala (Zoolala) and more.

Beginning June 15, the zoo's popular Wild Life Live program, presented by Portland General Electric, returns with "Birds of the World" — free-flight demonstrations on the zoo concert lawn featuring bird species from around the globe. Demonstrations take place three times daily on non-concert days. The Insect Zoo also opens for the summer on this day.

The zoo's summer concert series kicks off with folk legend John Prine on June 22 and winds up with the Doobie Brothers in early September. Along the way, concertgoers can catch the Go-Go's (on a double bill with the B-52s), Ziggy Marley, Indigo Girls, Randy Newman, Lyle Lovett, Los Lobos, Chris Isaak, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Brice, and Huey Lewis and the News. For more information and a full schedule, visit zooconcerts.com.

Later this spring, officials will announce the entertainment schedule for Sunset at the Zoo, the popular evening series that debuted last summer as an expansion of the zoo's traditional Wednesday concerts. Free for zoo members, Sunset at the Zoo is presented by Banfield Pet Hospital and offers a feel-good festival vibe, with live music from local artists, family-friendly activities and the chance to get to know animals that are active during twilight hours. Sunset at the Zoo events take place every other Wednesday, starting July 10.

July 20, Zoo supporters can savor delicious local fare, dance under the stars, and hang out with some real "party animals," as the Oregon Zoo Foundation hosts its 14th annual Zoolala, a gala fundraiser presented by Spirit Mountain Casino. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit oregonzoo.org.