Home > Vacation, Zoos > Portland – Day 2: Zoo

Portland – Day 2: Zoo

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was still trying to figure out my schedule when we got to Portland. But I finally decided to visit Washington Park the first day. Washington Park is a massive complex composed of several major attractions, including:

  • Oregon Zoo
  • International Rose Test Garden
  • Portland Japanese Garden
  • Hoyt Arboretum

All I had to do to get there was hop on the rail. But it was a little more exciting, at least for me. The park is on the other side of the Willamette River and the MAX train crosses it by way of Steel Bridge. During the crossing, the Burnside Bridge was open to my south! This was pretty neat since I’ve never seen a bridge open before.

Burnside Bridge

I looked around every which way but could find no sign of a ship in any direction. Maybe the operators were just having some fun on a slow day. Eventually the next stop listed was the park. To my surprise, we went into a tunnel. Cool, love tunnels. But, we didn’t come back out. I was quite baffled when we got out, wondering why I was in a subway tunnel.

The Robertson Tunnel

I followed everyone else into the elevator where there was a hard to read gold plaque explaining how far underground we were. Let’s look at what WIki says instead about the Robertson Tunnel:

“…which at 79 meters deep is the deepest subway station in the United States and the fifth deepest in the world.”

If one stops to think about this, it is all logical. The park is significantly higher than downtown and we didn’t come up a hill on the way in. This has the advantage that you can, in theory, get good views of Portland from the park.

Once up top, I headed towards the zoo ticket booth (this is where things went wrong). There is a package that includes the zoo train for the same day. I really wanted to do this and it provides a quick way to get to the rose garden. In retrospect (after lunch), this was a bad idea. I thought I could tour the zoo the first half of the day and spend the rest of the exploring the other sights. However the zoo took much longer than expected and it took a great effort to get myself to take the train later.


The Oregon Zoo is definitely one of the best I have been to. This is in large part due to the spacious exhibits. I was happy to see most of the animals had alot of room to roam around. The first habitat is a great exhibit of this (Rocky Mountain Goat). It is confusing though, since it is located after the ticket booth, but before where they take your ticket.

Rocky Mountain Goat

Here’s the front half:

Rocky Mountain Goat

This seemed rather typical, as the layout of the zoo was confusing to me. It’s kind of like being in a forest, which is fun, but you can’t see very far. Anyway, this being Oregon, with actual rain, there are flowers in bloom all over. I didn’t include any photos here, but there are some in the gallery. There are obviously lots of animals, but I only want to highlight some. Peruse the gallery to see everything I saw, and I didn’t see everything. New exhibits are being built too! The photos are a bit out of order since I didn’t change the timezone on my camera until later.


This is one of my favorite photos of the day. I shot this with the Sony RX100 M2. Because the lens lets in so much light, I took this at the lowest ISO. Plus I think it’s just a neat photo. Near the end of The Great Northwest exhibit at the entrance is an aviary. Ducks and tiny birds of course. But I was quite surprised when I looked up and found a Cattle Egret, of all things.

Cattle Egret

The Malaysian Sun Bear was sleeping when I arrived. Gotta love those claws.

Malayan Sun Bear

I was excited to learn there was a penguin exhibit, but there’s actually not much to see. There is only one species of penguin, the Humboldt.

Humboldt penguin

There is a lorikeet aviary, although much smaller than the one in San Antonio. The plus side of this is that you can get closer to the birds. They are more than happy to land on you, especially if you have food.

Rainbow lorikeet

Believe it or not, the tiger was awake!

Amur tiger

I must admit the Jumping Visayan warty pig (I added the Jumping) entertained me and several others for quite awhile.

Visayan warty pig

He would just run around in circles non-stop and kept jumping over the log. This seemed like a good time to try video with the Canon 6D. I definitely should have read about this first as this feature is harder to use than it should be. Regardless, I managed a 20 second clip that has a jump at the end.

Since it wasn’t caged, I am counting the Oregon Junco as a new bird for me (linked to a different photo).

Oregon Junco

Across from the pig is the spacious concert area where a birds of prey show is performed during the summer. Another welcome surprise. The 6D’s tracking function worked well here.

Hooded Vulture

My favorite was the owl, who was probably not happy about being out in the day time. I believe they only brought it out for show, though, I don’t think it flew.

Barred owl

One of the last stops was the Howard Vollum Aviary. This is a tough place to take photos. It’s dim and when there is light, it usually means a backlit bird. The 6D’s excellent sensor paid off here. Some of the photos were taken at ISO 3200 with hardly any noise to be seen. Always fun to see birds you are unlikely to ever see otherwise, such as this Golden-breasted Starling.

Golden-breasted starling

And a Speckled Mousebird.

Speckled Mousebird

That’s about it. I’ll wrap up with one more photo, this of a Caracul. Enjoy the rest of the photos in the gallery.


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