With the support of our community, we're creating a better future for wildlife.
In 2008, voters across the region supported new construction, renovation and innovation at the Oregon Zoo to improve animal welfare, increase sustainability and expand opportunities for conservation education.
New facilities focused on animal welfare and care
The new Veterinary Medical Center was the first major bond-funded project completed, opened in January, 2012. A new penguin water filtration system began operation in 2012. Endangered California condors made their zoo debut in a brand new habitat opened in 2014. Elephant Lands opened in December 2015, setting an entirely new standard for elephant care. New habitats for polar bears, primates and rhinos are under construction and slated for completion in 2020.
Each new habitat is larger, made from natural materials and open to the air and sky, with sheltered areas for colder seasons. Flooring is natural soil, grass or other porous well-drained material. Animals are able to see outside of their habitats to adjacent exhibits, visitors and other parts of the zoo. Each habitat affords flexibility to accommodate mating, pregnancy, mothers with babies, and a variety of social groupings of each species. Some animals prefer to live fairly solitary lives, some in pairs and some animals live in large social groups. Each new habitat accommodates these preferences, providing animals with daily opportunities for discovery, play and problem solving.
Making the most of every dime, drop and kilowatt
Wisely using resources reduces impacts on wildlife and habitat around the world. With each zoo improvement, sustainability is woven into every pool, pathway and parking space. All new eligible buildings and facilities are achieving LEED silver certification or better by conserving energy and water and using natural light and natural ventilation. The Veterinary Medical Center is a shining example, channeling natural light into work areas and animal enclosures and recycling harvested rainwater. And the new water system in the Penguinarium is saving six million gallons each year!
The perfect setting to learn about nature
Each of the zoo's new animal habitats tells the story of the animal's current conservation status, providing guidance for visitors on how to take practical, meaningful actions that will help secure a better future for these species and their native habitats. The Education Center, which opened in 2017, has expanded these learning opportunities, focusing on small actions we can each take in our daily lives.