Oregon Zoo turns 125, unveils online photo gallery


Fan-submitted 'Zoo125' photos trace zoo's evolution over nearly a century

On Nov. 7, 1888, a sailor-turned-pharmacist bequeathed his menagerie of bears, monkeys and birds to the City of Portland, and in doing so marked the birth of what would become one of the nation's oldest and most respected zoos.

The Oregon Zoo is celebrating its "quasquicentennial" — or 125th anniversary — today by looking back at the past century and a quarter through the eyes of its community.

As part of a Zoo125 photo contest held earlier this year, fans submitted more than 300 images of zoo memorabilia and family photos, some nearly a century old.

Highlights include shots of the famous Asian elephant Packy as a baby, an original Zoo Key and the Space Age-inspired polar bear and monkey exhibits of the 1960s. The oldest image, submitted by Tim Hurtley of Portland, is captioned "deer at the zoo taken by Edward McGuire, my grandfather, around 1915."

The images — collected in an online gallery at oregonzoo.org/125 — help illustrate a 125-year journey that has seen vast leaps in zoological knowledge and animal welfare, with an increasing focus on sustainable operations, wildlife education and conservation.

"It's amazing to think about," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "This zoo has been community supported since 1888 — a time when there were no cars, no planes, no TV, no radio. It's been fun to see some of the zoo experiences people have saved on film over the years."

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org