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What To Expect at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle

September 20, 2023 By CityPASS

Looking for your next wild adventure in Seattle? The Woodland Park Zoo is an award-winning, family-friendly zoo that’s a hit with both kids and adults. Woodland Park Zoo is home to nearly 1,100 creatures that represent 300 different species. What’s more, this zoo regularly has special and seasonal events for the public.

If you’re ready to take a walk on the wild side, it’s time to explore Seattle through the Woodland Park Zoo.

Family Favorite Animal Exhibits

Woodland Park Zoo has several naturalistic exhibits that let visitors come face-to-face with a variety of animals from around the world. In fact, Woodland Park Zoo's awards for exhibits currently rank second in the nation behind the Bronx Zoo.

To help you get started on your wild adventure, here are a few fan-favorite Woodland Park Zoo exhibits to check out.

Assam Rhino Reserve

Wild rhinos are an endangered species, so the Woodland Park Zoo is making conservation efforts to ensure they don’t go extinct. Thanks to this, the population is slowly starting to increase. The Assam Rhino Reserve is home to two greater one-horned rhinos, as well as some tortoises and cranes.

Molbak's Butterfly Garden

The Woodland Park Zoo butterfly exhibit is a magical place where butterflies float freely around you. Molbak’s Butterfly Garden has hundreds of butterflies from North America and is open throughout the summer. It’s a favorite spot to take some Woodland Park Zoo photos, so be sure to bring your camera!

Ambassador Animals

Woodland Park Zoo has several animal specimens that are designated Ambassador Animals. These special creatures participate in the zoo’s educational programs and help guests learn how they can help protect wildlife. There are different programs each day at the zoo’s theaters, so be sure to check the schedule to see which animals you can encounter during your visit.

Other Popular Animal Encounters

The zoo is constantly evolving to best serve the needs of its animals and guests. For example, the Woodland Park Zoo elephants exhibit closed in 2015 so that the animals could live in a specialized wildlife sanctuary. Even so, you’ll find several African animals, like hippos, lions, and a baby giraffe, in the African Savanna.

Another popular spot to visit is the Tropical Rain Forest, which has outdoor gorilla exhibits, a jaguar cove, and a wide variety of plant species. If you’re looking for aquatic animals, watch the penguins splash around in the Humboldt Penguins exhibit. Each exhibit makes you feel like you’ve entered an entirely new world.

Woodland Park Zoo Experiences You Can't Miss

Besides incredible exhibits, the Woodland Park Zoo has an expanded collection of thrilling experiences for the whole family. Some of these are open year-round, and some are seasonal. Be sure to check the Woodland Park Zoo hours and schedule to see what’s on during your visit to the zoo.

Living Northwest Trail

The Living Northwest Trail allows visitors to explore and connect with the wildlife native to this region of the country. This includes close encounters with species like the Canadian lynx, brown bears, and gray wolves. In addition to wildlife, keep your eyes open for artwork carved by Native artists from the Yakama and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribes.

Rose Garden

The Seattle Rose Garden at Woodland Park Zoo is a paradise for flower lovers. This sprawling garden has more than 3,000 blooms from more than 200 varieties of roses in a number of colors.

What’s impressive about this garden is that it’s natural and contains no pesticides. The old flowers are given to the zoo animals as a tasty treat. The gorillas, in particular, love them. Visiting the garden can help you learn more about natural gardening techniques, how to improve soil quality, and better watering practices.


Little ones can have a blast and learn about nature at the same time at the indoor Zoomazium facility. Kids up to eight are invited to enjoy interactive play areas that spark imagination and encourage exploration, and every Friday is sensory-friendly. The activities are slightly modified so children with sensory sensitivities can enjoy them in a quieter, calmer atmosphere. Zoomazium is open to visitors throughout the whole year.

Seasonal Exhibits and Events

Some popular exhibits and events are only open during certain times of the year. This includes:

  • Woodland Park Zoo Tunes: This is a summer concert series that has featured big names like Neko Case, Patti Smith, Blues Traveler, and Tegan and Sara. Tickets go on sale in the early spring, so check the calendar.
  • WildLanterns: See the zoo (and animals) in full holiday spirit during the holiday season! Walk through the paths and marvel at illuminated lanterns in the shapes of animals from near and far. Tickets go on sale in the summer with an early bird discount.
  • Woodland Park Zoo Pumpkin Bash: Little ones can dress up, trick-or-treat, and enjoy a kid-friendly Halloween parade at the zoo. Watch your favorite animals stomp on pumpkins and then take part in an exciting scavenger hunt.

What Is the Best Time of the Year To Visit Woodland Park Zoo?

The best time to visit the zoo is whenever you can make a trip to Seattle! There are events all year long, so check out the events calendar to see if anything in particular interests you.

You also might want to consider the weather. Animals are more likely to be outdoors roaming their habitats when the weather is warm or mild. Extreme heat or cold might bring them indoors.

Visit the Award-Winning Woodland Park Zoo With a Seattle CityPASS® Ticket

Want to know something really wild? Buying a Seattle CityPASS® ticket can save you up to at Seattle’s best things to do! Your ticket is valid for entrance into exciting places like the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and, of course, the Woodland Park Zoo.

Seattle Lodging

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

Header Image ©Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Woodland Park Zoo

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