The Woodland Park Zoo is our excuse to head south

Thea and Oliver watch a river otter at the Woodland Zoo in Seattle.

This year we’be been taking advantage of the combination of living close to the US/Canadian border and having a Nexus passes for everyone in the family to take more trips into Washington State. One of the things that we decided to do was to get Season Passes to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. We always enjoy visiting zoos when we’re on holidays so having a good one nearby, it seemed like a fun thing to do.

A brown bear at Woodland Park Zoo.

A brown bear at Woodland Park Zoo.

It also coincided with Oliver’s love of the Wild Kratts, an animated show about animals and nature. The fact that the zoo had a pair of newborn Red Pandas, his favourite animal, was also a bonus. Add to that the fact that the zoo has electric car chargers, helping to keep our travel costs down and it’s a great day out for the entire family. An early morning drive, a stop at Woods Coffee for canine for us parents and banana bread for the kids and then a day at the zoo is a great way to spend a Saturday or a Sunday.

There are of course ethical considerations to supporting a zoo, which is what our buying annual passes is doing. While I believe that being able to see and learn about wildlife increases the public’s empathy towards the natural world and makes them more likely to support conservation efforts, is that worth the trade off of keeping animals in captivity?

Zoos tout their own efforts to protect wildlife and have laudable mission statements but is there any way to be sure that the animals are treated well? How much are we willing to overlook because we like looking at animals and enjoy an excuse to head down to Seattle every few weeks?

An excuse beyond visiting my all-time favourite burger joint Shake Shack.

I don’t have any particularly good answers to those questions. It’s a quandary and I do hope that our support of the zoo is an overall net positive even if it may have its downsides.

The Woodland Park Zoo isn’t the largest we’ve been to, and is easily eclipsed by zoos we’ve visited on recent trips to San Diego and Calgary. It is however seemingly well run, has a good selection of animals from around the world, including the adorable red pandas that Oliver is so fond of, and while it gets busier in the summer it’s never unpleasantly crowded. It also has a number of special events our first of which will be a family Feist concert.


Red pandas being my son’s favourite animal was also a bonus of an annual membership.

They are an adorable animal.

We haven’t yet decided whether or not we’ll renew for next year. However we’ve been enough times that the annual pass has more than paid for itself in savings. With the summer here and the zoo busier we’ll likely go a little less to try to avoid the crowds but as the summer season ends we’ll be sure to be back on a more regular basis.

If you’re looking for something to do with a family, particularly with children, in Seattle then I do highly recommend the Woodland Park Zoo. It’s worth it for us to make the drive from White Rock on a semi-regular basis and we never fail to have fun even if it’s just trying to get good photos of the red pandas and keep our two year old daughter from running off and joining the wolf pack which she would definitely do if we let her our of our sights long enough. (She hasn’t told us what her favourite animal is yet, but she does quiet enjoy watching the river otter swim around).

Blog, LifeJeffery Simpson