Get up close, personal with new animal encounters


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

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 |

Kelsey Wallace| 503-220-5754 |