Portland. A quietly proud and burgeoning group of over 2.5 million, this northwestern hub continues to lead in its famously bold counterculture, local arts scene, rose cultivation, and aquatic life. Indeed, visitors, those returning to friends and family, and resident Portlanders alike will delight in the wealth of aquatic life in Portland’s waters and in its premier institutions. Read on for our favorite aquarium and aquatic wildlife experiences here in the City of Roses.
Portland, and by extension Oregon’s premier attraction for the appreciation and education of wildlife is the Oregon Zoo, inspiring generations for 133 years and counting. Over 1,800 animals represent 232 species, from the Northwest and from the world over. Some of the famous aquatic animals that reside here at the Oregon Zoo include the African lungfish, African slender-snouted crocodile, Asian elephant (well, the ones here love the water), African spurred tortoise, American beaver, harbor seal, Humboldt penguin, lesser flamingo, Pacific lamprey, polar bear, river otter, southern sea otter, and the venerated coho salmon. These icons and more reside in a series of exhibits that take visitors through the myriad habitats of the Northwest, African Northwest, African Savannah, and the Arctic.
In addition to the exhibits and animals, there are also regular events throughout the year to add a bit of variety to any travel plans, and the charming Washington Park & Zoo Railway, which provides transportation to nearby Hoyt Arboretum, the World Forestry Center, and the International Rose Test Garden.
Killin Wetlands Nature Park
Step into a more ancient Oregon, into the peat, marshes, and gentle hills of Killin Wetlands Nature Park. Just a thirty-minute drive from the world of downtown Portland, visitors can see all that wild Oregon has to offer. Roosevelt elk parties and their processions, bald eagles and their nests, beavers, beaver dams, and river otters can all be observed in their natural habitat. In addition, birdwatchers will relish in the abundance of species, as Killin Wetlands Nature Park is designated by the Audubon Society of Portland as an Important Bird Area, and is an integral part of the larger Willamette Valley Birding Trail.
A slightly longer drive out of Downtown Portland at under 40 minutes, the Fernhill Wetlands is more than worth the trip, with a notable cast of the common yellowthroat, osprey, great blue heron, American white pelican, bald eagles, and the introduction of nutria. Beavers, river otters, and a number of fishes, reptiles, and amphibians also thrive here, and the wetlands also provide a great opportunity to enjoy the local flora of Oregon’s interior. The treatment facility is also worth a visit for those interested in conservation and civil engineering, a formidable project that treats five million gallons of water from the surrounding communities. For a detailed look into a side of conservation and the marvels of modern technology combined with the serenity of Oregon’s wild side, come to the Fernhill Wetlands.
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