A new zoo

Big changes are happening at your zoo.

The transformation is under way. Thanks to your support, the zoo's vision for a better future for wildlife is taking shape, with nearly half the zoo grounds getting an upgrade. Scroll down to explore visionary new habitats like Elephant Lands and Condors of the Columbia. Discover how these changes will advance the zoo's world leadership in animal welfare and sustainability. And follow our New Zoo blog for information on what's happening and how to get involved.

Delivering on our promise

In 2008, our community voted to invest $125 million in the zoo to protect animal welfare, increase access to conservation education and improve sustainability. Construction on the last three habitats will begin in summer 2018 and wrap up in 2020.

What to expect this summer

All paths will be open. Construction will mostly take place along Zoo Street, offering the chance to see crews and equipment in action. The primate building and polar bear and rhino habitats will be closed, but be on the lookout for fun activities, new animal experiences and ways to explore less-visited parts of the zoo.

A new zoo

When these final bond-funded projects are finished, we will have transformed nearly 40 percent of the zoo.

You’ll get to: 

  • Observe polar bears swimming underwater and learn how they support conservation science in the Arctic
  • Watch chimpanzees climb, swing, socialize and play in their new multi-level habitat
  • Discover how to help save orangutans and chimpanzees through your everyday actions
  • Get up close to rare black rhinos in their expanded space designed to support breeding and raising calves 

Most of all, these new habitats will be custom-built for the animals that live in them, helping to support and enhance the excellent care provided here at your zoo. 

Penguin filtration upgrade

Completed in 2011

To keep the penguins' water clean and clear, the zoo historically filled, dumped and refilled their pool. In 2011, the zoo installed a new modern life-support system that recycles water in the penguin pool and reduces water usage by more than 80 percent, saving millions of gallons annually.

Veterinary Medical Center

Completed in 2012

Equipped to meet the medical needs of animals ranging from newts to bears, the LEED Gold-certified VMC building also includes a rainwater capture system, solar-heated water and an energy-efficient electrical system. The center provides comforting, climate-controlled spaces that support animals' health and healing.

Condors of the Columbia

Completed in 2014

The three-story Condors of the Columbia aviary includes an elevated viewing area offering visitors a rare up-close look at these massive birds – the largest in North America. Interactive displays guide visitors through the Oregon Zoo's decade-long effort with partners to recover these critically endangered birds.

Elephant Lands

Completed in 2015

This world-class habitat provides the entire herd great health and welfare, along with opportunities to make their own choices. Visitors will discover these graceful giants moving through meadows, hills, mud wallows and pools. Join us in creating one of the most inspiring elephant experiences in the world.

Education Center

Completed in 2017

This beautiful and sustainably-built learning and activity center includes classrooms and meeting spaces, gardens and a Nature Exploration Station. Home to zoo camps, classes and fun programs offered by community conservation and education partners, the center will inspire you to get outside, learn about nature and take meaningful action on behalf of the natural world.

Polar Passage

Coming in 2020

This expansive new space will include natural landscaping, deep saltwater pools and extraordinary viewing opportunities. Bears will be able to patrol their habitat and take in views across the zoo.

Primate Forest

Coming in 2020

Design concepts for this new habitat include complex and stimulating outdoor areas, allowing freedom of movement for chimps while providing guests with exciting views and observations.

Rhino habitat

Coming in 2020

In the near future, visitors will be able to explore an expanded rhino habitat from multiple angles. Looking ahead, the zoo's 20-year master plan calls for construction of an Africa savanna habitat shared by a number of large grassland species including rhinos, gazelles and giraffes.