Woodland Park ZooWebsite



5500 Phinney Ave. Seattle, Washington 98103

Number of animals

Over 1,000 animals which represent 300 species are on display at the zoo. 48 of these are endangered.


Historic carousel

Take a spin on the classic, hand carved wooden horses.


Kids under eight are able to enjoy this indoor, nature play space. It connects kids with animals and habitats.

Remember to check the zoo website to see if there are any charges, terms or conditions on these attractions

The Size of the zoo

Woodland Park Zoo sits on 37ha (92 acres) of land.


Woodland Park Zoo’s roots lie with the traditional English park created by Guy Phinney and a small collection maintained by the Lake Washington Cable Railway.

Phinney’s estate was built at a cost of $40,000. It had a formal rose garden, pump house, stone entrance and an electric trolley line for his private car. It also included a small herd of deer. Following Phinney’s death in 1989 his wife sold the park to the city. It cost them $5,000 cash along with taking on a $95,000 loan. It was named Woodland Park.

The Lake Washington Cable Railway was moved from Leschi Park to Woodland Park soon after the city purchased it.

The Olmsted Brothers who were responsible for designing Central Park in New York City were hired to design a public park using Phinney’s estate as the basis.

A number of animal quarters were built on the periphery of the park. The woodland in the lower area of the park was retained as a wooded area but in 1930 Woodland Park was bisected by a six-lane highway known as Aurora Avenue. The zoo now sits in the “Upper” Woodland Park area that this created.

During the depression the zoo expanded with a commissary, beaver ponds and monkey island built by the Works Project Administration.

In 1949 the zoo Director was Ed Johnson. He led the zoo through a period of growth where bear and feline grottos were constructed. He also proposed the building of a children’s zoo. After five unsuccessful Park Bonds and 20 years it was finally built and opened in 1967.

The next year $4.5 million was provided to the zoo for a list of improved. It was to follow a long range plan which did not exist. G.R Bartholick was hired to draft the plan. One of his plans called for expanding the zoo into Lower Woodland Park by using a 700ft long zoological conservatory over Aurora Avenue. In November 1974 this was defeated through a public vote.

During 1975 the zoo advisory committee was appointed by Mayor Wes Uhlman to establish guidelines. In 1975 they appointed Jones and Jones were appointed to draw up a new plan which was approved in 1976. This became the zoo’s first masterplan. By the time it was completed in 1979 an African Savannah, Gorilla exhibit, primate island, North American Marsh and Swamp exhibits had been built.

Another bond was issued in 1985 for $31.5 million. Private donations to the sum of $10 million “Save our elephants campaign allowed further elements of the 1976 plan to be completed. This meant that between 1987 and 1996 the Asian Elephant Forest, Tropical Rain Forest, Education Centre, ZooStore, Animal Health Complex, Northern Trail exhibit and Trail of Vines exhibit were completed.

On March 1, 2002 the Woodland Park Zoological Society entered into an operations and Management Agreement with the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation that meant they took on running the zoo.

They began to raise funds and have now constructed more exhibits such as the African Village in 2001, African Wild dog exhibit in 2002, Jaguar Cover in 2003, Zoomazium and carousel in 2006 and finally the Humboldt penguin exhibit in 2009.

Star Animals


Between 1953 and 1968 a Western lowland gorilla known as Bobo lived at the zoo. He was acquired from the Lowman family who acquired his as an infant in 1951 after hunters took him from Africa. He was a popular attraction in Seattle and helped the zoo obtain funding for the primate house.

Chai and Bamboo

Chai and Bamboo were the last two elephants to live at Woodland Park Zoo before they ended their elephant program. Following the death of Watoto their elephant companion the zoo needed to bring in more elephants or ship Chai and Bamboo out. After failing to find any more they decided to send the pair to Oklahoma City Zoo. The pair made national headlines as a result of opposition to their transport with big names such as Jane Goodall asking that they be moved to a sanctuary.

Main Exhibit

African Savanna and Village

Journey across the African plains meeting animals such as lions, giraffe, hippos, gazelles, fringe-eared oryx, ostrcihes, zebras and patas monkey as you go. Then explore the life of the people of East Africa who co-exist each day with animals.

Tropical Asia

Meet the animals of Asia such as orangutans, siamangs and tapirs in trail of Vines along with otters and an aviary in Banyan Wilds.

Raptor Centre

Home of the zoo’s seasonal bird show visitors can view a number of raptors such as owls and vultures.

Northern Trail

This habitat recreates the tundra and taiga found throughout Alaska. Here you can view brown bears, Roosevelt elk, snowy owls, mountain goats, Steller’s sea eagles and river otter’s swimming underwater.


Meet species from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific including wallabies, wallaroos, kookaburras and emus. Another feature is Willawong station where birds take food from your hands.

Day Exhibit

Meet amazing reptiles and amphibian such as the King Cobra. Also on display is Matschie’s tree kangaroo which the zoo helps to conserve through the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.

Humboldt penguin exhibit

Meet penguins from the hot coastal areas of Peru in this eco-friendly habitat with geothermal heating and cooling for the water.

Tropical Rainforest

Animals on exhibit in this habitat include red ruffed lemurs, gorillas, colobus and jaguars. Stepping inside the Tropical Rain Forest Dome you can encounter South American birds, ocelots, snakes, poison dart frogs and a number of other creatures.

Temperate rainforest

Meet creatures such as red pandas, Asian cranes and Maned wolves along with Chilean flamingos in this enclosure.

Bug World

A fascinating array of invertebrates is displayed in this enclosure.

Family Farm

Kids can view cows, chickens, goats and pigs along with learning about the role farms play in their daily lives. At certain times kids can enter the contact yard to pat sheep or goats.