Today was perfect for a walk through Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. While still summer weather, the kids are back in school, leaving most of the trails quiet and peaceful. I’ve been coming to this zoo since I was a child, but this is not the zoo of my youth, where animals were segregated in drab concrete enclosures.
Today’s zoo is beautifully landscaped and the animals live in areas designed like their natural habitats. Buildings are mostly hidden and walkways connect the areas in a style known as ‘landscape immersion’ first pioneered here in the late 1970’s with the gorilla exhibit. It has now become the industry standard.
According to their website, “Woodland Park Zoo’s 92 acres are divided into bioclimatic zones, featuring different natural habitats ranging from humid tropical rain forests and coastal deserts to temperate rain forests like those of the Pacific Northwest.”
We spent almost four hours walking through the Zoo, observing the beautiful creatures who live here and still didn’t see it all. But here is some of what we enjoyed.
The African Savanna replicates the grasslands of East Africa and includes giraffes and zebras, hippos and lions. It was especially fun to see the new baby giraffe (Lulu) who was born in June.
The hippos rested in the pool nearby to keep their skin moist and protected from the sun, their eyes bulging above the water.
Around the corner we found this handsome lion resting and the missus behind.
Tropical Asia Trail of Vines
This area houses the highly intelligent orangutan. The raised boardwalk lets you walk among the tree tops where they frequently reside.
Representing the wilds of Alaska, this is home to the brown bear, river otter, elk, and the gray wolf.
And who doesn’t like to ride on a Carousel, this one built in Philadelphia in 1918?
Round and round the beautiful horses go carrying the young and old on their backs. You can even catch them in reverse as I did taking this picture.
All in all it was a lovely day, walking the pathways and enjoying so many magnificent creatures. And yet whenever I visit a zoo, no matter how good it is, there’s always a little sadness at seeing the animals confined. If I had my way, they would roam free and wild in their natural habitat in their native land. Unfortunately those habitats are shrinking everywhere. So I must content myself with the fact that a quality zoo provides a home for them in a setting as natural as can be, while also supporting conservation efforts around the world. It will have to do I think.