By Amy Griggs
CONSIDER THE ZOO FOR A UNIQUE SITE FOR A MEETING OR EVENT
When it comes to planning a meeting, zoos are not the first place to come to mind. However, when you combine your next business meeting with the wonder of animal encounters, your guests are sure to have an experience they won’t soon forget.
OREGON ZOO, PORTLAND
Oregon Zoo offers a unique experience for those who want to make their events a little more wild. The Cascade Crest Banquet Center, located near the zoo’s entrance, is perfect for large gatherings. The 8,900 square feet of the center can seat up to 450 people for a banquet or 600 for a theater or reception-style event. The Banquet Center is just one of Oregon Zoo’s indoor meeting spaces. Cascade Grill and the Kalahari Room are also available for rental, with room for banquets of 100 and 120 people, respectively.
Meetings at the zoo aren’t just limited to the indoors, though. North Meadow Terrace, for example, is a wide open outdoor space with room for 1,200-plus people, depending on how the space is set up. The Terrace is adjacent to the zoo’s elephant habitat, giving guests a unique view during their meeting. The space also has easy access to the carousel and Family Farm, as well as the condor exhibit. Elephant Plaza Patio is another space where guests can watch the elephants, one that’s best for smaller gatherings and picnics.
Oregon Zoo offers a wide range of catering menus that suit every event, from breakfasts and dinners, to buffets and picnics. They also provide options for all-day events and receptions. Menus inspired by the abundance of the Pacific Northwest add a local flavor. For those interested in hosting an auction or fundraiser, the zoo offers a package to make planning easy, including such amenities as standard audiovisual equipment and additional tables for displays.
Once the meeting is over, guests can explore the zoo grounds. Groups of 20 or more receive a 20 percent discount on admission and rides on the Washington Park and Zoo Railway, as the zoo “loves herds, packs and pods.”
WOODLAND PARK ZOO, SEATTLE
Woodland Park Zoo has a variety of spaces available for rent as well. With a view of the zoo’s lush greenery, the Rain Forest Food Pavilion is the largest of the zoo’s indoor spaces and can seat up to 200 people. For smaller gatherings, groups can rent spaces such as the Taiga Viewing Shelter, which gives around 60 guests an up-close-and-personal view of the zoo’s otters and brown bears. The Historic Carousel is another unique space to host a meeting, with room for up to 48 people.
There’s no lack of outdoor spaces either. Jaguar Cove, which can seat around 60 people, makes guests feel like they’re in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America. Playful penguins can be found at the Humbolt Penguin Exhibit, which can seat up to 50 people in the rocky landscape. The Butterfly Garden is another outdoor space at the zoo where up to 100 guests can be seated, surrounded by the natural beauty of the outdoors.
Woodland Park Zoo also offers special behind-the-scenes tours where groups of 3 to 10 – depending on the tour – can get a closer look at animals such as tigers, lemurs, red pandas or giraffes. Animal Ambassador Experiences can also be arranged, where a Zoo Experience Specialist can introduce guests to animals such as birds of prey or porcupines and educate them on these incredible creatures.
“From outdoor picnics to indoor meeting facilities,” said Michelle Smith, vice president of business development, “the zoo has festive and functional venues that will be sure to take the corporate out of any corporate function. Hosting a meeting at the zoo benefits more than just the company too; proceeds from every private event held at Woodland Park Zoo support the zoo’s exemplary animal care program, wildlife conservation projects and hands-on environmental learning for all ages.”
Events at the zoo held after hours do not require the purchase of admission tickets, while events during operating hours do. Group discounts are available, as well as corporate discounts for companies with more than 100 employees.
Woodland Park Zoo