The Oregon Zoo, formerly known as the Portland Zoo and then the Washington Park Zoo, is a zoo in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon, about 2 miles southwest of downtown.
It is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River, having opened in 1888.The area Metro government owns the 64-acre zoo.The Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi, having been established in 1888.Richard Knight bought two bears, one brown and one grizzly, and there was the start of it all.Knight, a pharmacist who used to be a seaman, began collecting animals from his seafaring pals.His collection was stored in the back of his drugstore on Third and Morrison streets.He attempted to sell the animals to the city of Portland when caring for them became too much of a burden.Instead of purchasing the animals, the city provided Knight two circus cages and permission to place the caged bears on City Park grounds (now called Washington Park).
The Knight family and friends were still in charge of caring for and feeding the bears.Knight spoke to the city council about the bears again not long after.He volunteered to donate the bears, along with their cages, to the city just five months later.On November 7, 1888, the Portland City Council approved his offer, and the Portland Zoo was born.It was known as the Washington Park Zoo since it was located in Washington Park.
The zoo’s collection had grown to nearly 300 animals by 1894.In 1925, the zoo relocated to the current Portland Japanese Garden, which is still located within Washington Park.In 1958–59, the zoo relocated to its current location, which was designed by Lawrence, Tucker & Wallmann.This was originally in Hoyt Park, which was west of Washington Park, but the two parks were eventually united to form Washington Park.The Portland Zoo Railway was built at this time to connect the zoo to its former location in Washington Park, as well as other attractions there.The zoo’s relocation to the new, much larger site took place in phases over the course of more than a year, with the first animals arriving in spring 1958 and limited public access opening one day after the first part of the Zoo Railway opened.Because most animals were remained at the previous site awaiting completion of their new cages during the transition period, the new zoo was only open on weekends.However, until mid-September, the new railway ran six days a week.Meanwhile, the old zoo remained open, although for the final months of its operation, it was restricted to foot access only, with vehicular access prohibited.
On July 3, 1959, the zoo moved to its current location.At the time, it was renamed the Portland Zoological Gardens, but it was still known as the Portland Zoo.It took until November to relocate the elephants and large cats to the new zoo.For easier access to the new zoo, a new interchange was built on the nearby motorway, the Sunset Highway.
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