We're bringing the Oregon Zoo to you on Facebook Live!
Go behind the scenes to meet animals and connect with our animal care staff. Tune in for new videos every week on our Facebook page or watch on YouTube. After each live video, come here for at-home ideas to learn more about these animals and how to help them. The activities, developed by our award-winning education team, are aimed at children ages K–5 (but we invite animal lovers of all ages to join in the fun!)
A team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians provide care and treatment for an amazing variety of animals at the Oregon Zoo. You can practice top-notch animal care at home, too.
"Having a pet — even a stuffed one — can play a critical role in kids' lives, including improving self-esteem, increasing social engagement and empathy and reducing stress levels," said Molly McAllister, DVM, MPH and chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital. "This is why we're excited to continue educating families on their critical role in providing their pets high quality preventive care."
Activity: Stuffy Vet
Practice being a veterinarian at home by giving your stuffed animals a check-up. When vets perform a check-up on an animal they look at the overall health and record what they find.
- Look at your stuffy's eyes, ears and nose. Do they look clean and clear?
- Listen to your stuffy's chest for a heartbeat.
- Measure the length and width of your stuffed animal.
- If you have a scale at home you can weigh it.
- Record all your observations on a piece of paper and share them with us!
As you saw in today's video, western pond turtles are one of the many species that receive care from the zoo's vet staff. Turtles come in many colors, shapes, and sizes but all have shells to protect themselves. Turtle shells are made of keratin, the same fibrous protein found in hair and fingernails.
Activity: DIY turtle shell
Create a turtle shell using materials around your house. You could use a paper bowl, an egg carton, or a box. You could make one out of reusable objects like a laundry basket or craft materials. Will your shell be big enough for you to wear or small to hold in your hand? You can make a turtle for your shell or be the turtle in your shell. Share a picture of your turtle creation with us!
Your turtle creation makes a great companion, but many wild turtles today are threatened because of the illegal pet trade and pets being released to the wild. Remember: Responsible pet ownership is important to keep wildlife safe!
Red pandas do a lot of communication through body language. They will bob their head and arch their tail to communicate how they feel. How do you communicate your feelings?
Activity: Red panda communication
- Look at the list of feelings below. Can you use body language to express these feelings?
- Share a video of your body language expressions with us!
Red pandas have a pseudo thumb or modified wrist bone to help them grasp bamboo while feeding.
Activity: Use your pseudo thumb
- Grab a piece of paper and a pencil
- Pretend you are a red panda with a pseudo thumb — hold your thumb against the palm of your hand and keep it there!
- Hold the pencil in your hand (without using your thumb).
- Now try writing your name or drawing a picture like a red panda.
- Share your masterpiece with us on Facebook!
River otters need clean water to stay healthy. Using cleaners made from everyday ingredients like baking soda, rubbing alcohol and vinegar helps keep pollutants out of waterways where otters live. Store-bought products used to clean laundry, surfaces and dishes can sometimes contain chemicals that poison wildlife and contaminate ecosystems.
Activity: Make your own cleaning products
- Go to Metro's green cleaning page to learn how you can help keep our rivers and streams healthy for river otters.
Keeping the river otters active and encouraging them to perform their natural behaviors is one way our keepers keep them healthy. Different substrates for digging/rolling, hidden treats, scents and toys are just a few examples of animal enrichment. Staying active while at home is important for us too. Follow the instructions below to make enrichment for your kids just like we do for the animals.
Activity: At-home enrichment
- Make your kids' favorite snack.
- Put the snack in two paper bowls taped together.
- Have your kids try to open the container without using their thumbs.
- Take a video of your child trying to open the container and share it with us on Facebook!
Pinecone the western screech owl
Birds are creative when it comes to nest building. Western screech owls like Pinecone use natural cavities like an old woodpecker hole in a tree, some birds create a cup-shaped nest out of twigs and others use grasses to build a nest that hangs from a branch. What kind of nest would you build if you were a bird?
Activity: Build a nest
- Head outside and collect twigs, moss, feathers, grass etc. Gather any pieces of string or yarn you might find too.
- Lay your materials out on a table. While your materials are drying out, find a paper plate, piece of cardboard or shoe box lid to build your nest on. There's no right or wrong way to build a bird's nest—be creative!
- Send us a picture of your nest when it's complete.
Most of the year, owls can be heard calling their own distinct hoot or whine. The Western screech owl is most known for its "bouncing ball" song: a series of 5-9 short, whistled hoots, speeding up ping-pong-ball fashion towards the end.
Activity: Owl Sounds
- Visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Owls page. Listen to the calls of each of the owls that are found in Oregon.
- Try to make the same sounds.
- Ask someone to record your owl sounds and share them with us on our Facebook page!
A nest of what? Poop! Many Humboldt penguin chicks spend the first three months of their life in a burrow dug into thick layers of dried guano (sea bird poop!). Humboldt penguins will also dig burrows in the ground or in caves and along cliffs. The burrow protects the chicks from predators and helps to control the temperature in changing conditions.
Activity: Build your own penguin burrow
Use pillows, blankets, bed sheets and sofa cushions to build your own penguin burrow. Be creative with your materials: Bring out the clothespins, string, paper clips and duct tape. We want to see your burrow when it's finished, so share a photo on our Facebook page!
Humboldt penguins spend most of their time in the ocean water, where they need to keep an eye out for predators. Their black and white markings serve as camouflage to help them stay out of sight. When a predator is in the water below them and looks up toward the sun, a penguin's white belly blends in. When the predators are above the water's surface, its dark back helps it to hide in the dark ocean water.
Activity: Practice penguin camouflage
Look around your house or outside and see if you can find ways to camouflage. Get a picture of your best camouflage moments in your environment and share them with us!
Lincoln the sea otter
Activity: Favorite rock
- Think like a sea otter and choose a favorite rock. A rock with a smoother surface will be easier to decorate.
- Use whatever supplies you have at home, paint, draw, or stamp your rock. You could even create a collection of favorite rocks to use for other activities like tic-tac-toe. Get creative with materials — you could glue on sequins, small pieces of fabric or add natural items too like small leaves.
- Don't forget to share a picture of your creation on our Facebook page!
Once hunted to near-extinction, sea otters are now making a comeback off the coast of Alaska and Central California. A growing population in Washington and sightings of lone sea otters off the Oregon coast provide hope that this playful critter could once again call Oregon home.
Activity: Help sea otters in the wild
- Learn how you can protect sea otters in the wild by visiting our small actions for sea otters page.
- Draw a picture or write a story to show what action you will take to help sea otters.
- Don't forget to share your ideas with us on Facebook!
Looking for more animals? Check out these Oregon Zoo YouTube playlists:
Goat kids Ruth and Sonia explore the zoo — and meet new animal friends along the way — in Tiny Goat Visits:
Get to know the orphaned, injured and displaced animals who've found a home at the Oregon Zoo with our Second Chances series:
Walk, run and waddle around the zoo with our Out and About playlist: