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'Cool Creature Crawl' debuts at zoo

March 20, 2024, 9:26 a.m.
Topic: Community
An orangutan cutout at the zoo

The Oregon Zoo welcomed 20 animals this week, but they don’t have fur, feathers or scales. These new arrivals are made of wood, and they were created by Portland artist Mike Bennett for a new scavenger hunt at the zoo: the Cool Creature Crawl, presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union.

Inspired by some of the lesser-known animals that call the zoo home, Bennett crafted a pacific lamprey, a naked mole rat and a crocodile monitor, among others. The two-dimensional, hand-painted creatures are located throughout the zoo.

“I’ve always been drawn to unsung heroes,” said Bennett. “Everyone knows you can see lions or elephants at the zoo, but not everyone knows about the southern ground hornbills. This is a fun way to celebrate these cool creatures.”

Guests to the zoo will see the first creature on the crawl, a rocky mountain goat, near the main entrance. From there, they’ll be challenged to see how many more they can spot during their visit. 

“As a proud partner of the Oregon Zoo for six years, we’re thrilled to bring wonder and discovery to the Portland community with the Cool Creature Crawl,” said Mairi Burns, vice president of brand marketing for First Tech. “We’ve collaborated with the zoo on a scavenger hunt since 2019 and this is a really exciting next step.”