Portland Travel Blog› entry 21 of 42 › view all entries
March 11th, 2008 – by: LMTaylor
We had to get up at 5am *swears a lot* to haul our asses down the hill to the bus stop to sit for three and a half hours back to Seattle where we had to change and then sit on another bus for a further several hours to arrive in Portland. We then had to walk 18 blocks to get to our hostel. On a brighter note there is free pizza every night, which I cant eat but Rachel is loving. We also saw on the notice board of free/cheap things to do that the zoo is only $2 on the second tuesday of every month. Guess what it was yesterday?? Yep, so off we went.
We jumped on the Max train, which seems to be a mix of a tram, train and tube to the zoo.
The enclosures were very well designed, trying to mimic the natural environment as much as possible. One thing I noticed was most of the animals dens and sleeping areas had been positioned so that even if the animals are sleeping, which animals are wont to do, the public could still see them instead of looking at an empty enclosure like at a lot of zoos. In fact all of the enclosures were designed to allow the public to view the animals at all stages of their day.
The hightlight has to be the polar bears though. There were three in all but one was in a much more playful mood then the others. When we arrived at his enclosure he was doing laps in the water, doggy paddling a length up to the wall then, half climbing the wall he laid on his back and kicked off, gliding on on his back through the water, using one hand on the side of the glass to push himself along. He looked like he was having a fabulous time with not a care in the world and to be honest, with the plight of his wild cousins he is one of the lucky ones and can afford to take it easy.
We watched him for ages, he took a little break from his swimming to walk through the enclosure then delighted us by picking up one of the builders hats that he had been given as a toy, tossing it into the water then diving straight in after it and played in the water with it. I dare anyone to watch that display and then say that animals dont have characters, moods and emotions just like us!
The zoo is most famous for its Asian elephants. It has the most successful breeding program in the Northern Hemisphere, with them even having a case of twins being born fairly recently (unfortunately one was stillborn). They have a little round building devoted to elephants and details their history and explains mans connection with elephants. We visited the male elephant in the enclosed area and were greeted with howls of laughter coming from all the rather red faced mums that were in there.
Towards the end of the day we visited the Lorikeet enclosure, where we could go in and get close to them. We bought a cup of 'nectar', a sweet juice that we could feed to the birds. As soon as we walked in two birds decended on me, clearly very thirsty! They all knew what the little white cup meant and were eager to get to it. I think at one time I had four on me, three squabbling over the cup and one sitting on my shoulder, squawking in protect into my ear over his lack of drinking time. The funniest bit had to be when I gave the cup to Rachel and they all immediatly flew over to her. One landed on her head, causing Rachel to try to retract her head like a tortoise under attack into her jacket, yelling at me to get it off, terrified it was going to poop in her hair. I can say that all the birds behaved impeccably and we didnt get pooped on even once.
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