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Guide to Visiting Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle

April 12, 2017 By CityPASS

One of the oldest zoos in the United States, Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo spans almost 100 acres of pure animal enjoyment. Since 1899, it has delighted guests with over 1,000 animals that originate from all different habitats and geographic locations. Nestled in Woodland Park, this iconic destination is only a few miles from Ballard Locks (Hiram H. Chittenden Locks), another of Seattle’s top places to visit.

One of the best parts about of this Seattle zoo is its dedication to wildlife conservation. From investing in field projects that save endangered species to creating "Zoo Doo" (composted herbivorous fecal matter) instead of dumping the manure in landfills, the Woodland Park Zoo is 100% committed to sustainability and helping the planet.

Woodland Park Zoo Animal Exhibits

With over 300 species of animals from virtually every climate on earth, you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding what to see first.

African Savanna

If gentle giraffes and majestic lions are your kryptonite, head to the East African village replica. Perched on the edge of their African Savanna, this exhibit is an accurate reproduction of a modern rural village where residents share living space with wild animals.

Ambassador Animals

These are the cutest dignitaries you’ll ever see! Visitors get the chance to see these critters up close in the Woodland Park Zoo’s theaters and through other programs at the zoo. They serve as a bridge between the animals behind the fence and the curious people admiring them, helping foster a connection between the two groups.

Assam Rhino Reserve

Regrettably, rhinos are one of the most highly poached wild creatures, thanks to a widely-believed myth (mostly among Asian countries) that rhino horn cures a multitude of ills, ranging from food poisoning to “devil possession.” That’s why the Woodland Park Zoo is proud to present a safe harbor for these striking animals, where guests will be able to admire them up close.


There’s more to Australia and its neighboring countries than just kangaroos! Check out the statuesque emus and talkative kookaburra, but make sure to save time to sneak a peek at the snow leopard before you move on. There’s even a Willawong Station where you’ll get to feed tiny Australian parrots with seedsticks.

Molbak’s Butterfly Garden

This is a seasonal exhibit, so be sure to check the Woodland Park Zoo website before your visit to see if it’s open. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to wander amongst over 500 free-flying butterflies and learn about the butterfly life cycle, from caterpillar to adult.

Humboldt Penguin Exhibit

While many penguins do indeed live in the coldest climates known to man, this particular species calls the hot desert regions of Peru home. Visitors can delight in these kooky animals as they frolic on a rocky coast and watch them through a glass pane as the they glide smoothly through the water.

Northern Trail

If you ever find yourself hiking in the Alaskan wilderness, you might end up coming face to face with one of the species living in the Northern Trail exhibit. Thousands of animals, from Roosevelt elk to snowy owls to mountain goats, call this climate home. Be sure to stop by the Taiga Viewing Shelter, where you may spot a bear catching trout!

Temperate Forest

The Woodland Park Zoo is situated in an ideal location for animals living in a temperate forest climate. You’ll get to ogle bright Chilean flamingos and darting maned wolves in this popular exhibit. Budding entomologists will get a kick out of Bug World, where they’ll learn about the many creepy crawlies that live virtually undetectable (or, in the case of the hairy tarantula, very visibly) alongside us.

Trail of Adaptations

This exhibit hosts animals with particularly interesting lifestyles, including nocturnal bats that sleep upside down during the day and prowl the skies at night, and meerkats that live their entire lives underneath the dusty ground. These are just a few of the intriguing creatures that you’ll encounter in the Trail of Adaptations.

Tropical Asia

Sadly, the quickly vanishing forests of tropical Asia are home to the world’s most endangered species. See if you can spot a magnificent Mayalan Tiger glowering at you from the brush as you stroll by. You’ll more than likely hear the langur’s characteristic screech while exploring this exhibit, and if you’re really lucky you may catch a glimpse of an arboreal monkey.

Tropical Rain Forest

Every level of the tropical rain forest from the moist floor to its sky-scraping canopy is teeming with life. You’ll get a taste of what it’s like to visit a real rainforest in this stunning exhibit. See if you can spot a jaguar lounging in a tree or colobus monkey swinging with what appears to be careless abandon through the canopy. There’s even a Tropical Rain Forest Dome that ocelots, poison dart frogs, and snakes call home.

Woodland Park Zoo Sensory Map

Woodland Park Zoo offers a sensory map to guide guests with different sensory needs to a variety of locations around the zoo where they can relax, romp and explore. They also provide a Zoomazium Social Story as a helpful guide to help guests familiarize themselves with the zoo before their visit. Lastly, fidget tools, noise canceling headphones, weighted vests, pinwheels, etc. are also available. For full details on all of the Woodland Park Zoo accessibility offerings, please visit their official website.

Woodland Park Zoo Tickets

You can buy single pass tickets for Woodland Park Zoo online, by phone at 206-548-2500, or at the gate. If you’re planning on visiting a few tourist destinations, check out Seattle CityPASS® tickets. It saves you money on admission to several of Seattle’s best spots and provides great ideas on how to spend time in this memorable city. There’s also an annual membership option for those who love revisiting the zoo, delighting in their favorite exhibits and excitedly exploring new ones.

Woodland Park Zoo Parking

There’s plenty of parking for the thousands of visitors who journey to the Woodland Park Zoo each year. The Woodland Park Zoo offers ADA-accessible parking in both the South Entrance Hippo Lot and West Entrance Otter Lot. Visitors who display a valid disabled parking placard in their vehicles do not have to pay parking fees.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Seattle, we recommend finding lodging near Seattle's top attractions like Woodland Park Zoo. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

With so much to explore, it’s easy to see how you can spend several hours admiring all these incredible creatures who populate every region on earth. The Woodland Park Zoo is joy for everyone from toddlers to seniors to explore – the spectacular glory that is Mother Nature transcends age.

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