Get up close, personal with new animal encounters

October 29, 2018 - 3:17pm

Owls and an aardvark join Oregon Zoo's new behind-the-scenes experiences

Visitors who want a peek behind-the-scenes at the Oregon Zoo now have more options than ever. Starting this month, guests can get up-close and personal with even more of the zoo's residents through new animal encounters like "Amazing Aardvark" and "River Otter Experience."

The 16 different behind-the-scenes tours range from a meet-and-greet with the zoo's lively Humboldt penguin colony to a one-of-a-kind reptile experience. All encounters include a talk from a zookeeper and the chance to ask questions, take photos and spend time with the animals in an intimate setting.

"It's really special to meet these animals up close," said Bree Boothe, who leads the "All About Owls" encounters with Pinecone, the zoo's rescued screech owl. "Guests are always so excited to meet Pinecone and hear his story."

In addition to meeting Pinecone, visitors can pet Bebeto the porcupine or take pictures of sea otters — and social media stars — Eddie, Juno and Lincoln. There's a tropical bird encounter for bird enthusiasts, and those who like to take it slow can share an experience with Josie the sloth. For a fuzzier fun time, behind-the-scenes tours are also available with the goats and rabbits of the Family Farm and the tarantulas of the Insect Zoo.

All animal encounters require tickets and reservations in advance, and some member discounts are available. More information can be found at