A Neighborhood Zoo
The first thing that impressed us was the fact that the zoo is essentially integrated into the middle of a residential area. A guide informed us that the plot of land used to construct the zoo was donated by a local couple, Peter and Marcie Rittler, back in the 1970s. This neighborhood zoo may be small but it puts all eight of its acres to good use.
Points of Pride
Among the more exotic featured animals included lemurs, emus, alpacas, macaws, and wallabies. Unfortunately, we were unable to see the macaws since they had already been relocated to indoor habitats for the winter.
Other points of pride included a bronze statue collection and reindeer exhibit. Both were the largest out of any zoo in the world. Our favorite statues were the pair of t-rexes. Since we were visiting during the winter, we got to receive greetings from Santa Claus while on our way to feed the reindeer.
Tigers, Cougars, and Cheetahs
The aforementioned wildlife is certainly exciting but the zoo’s biggest draw has to be its tigers and cougars. There were four male Bengal tigers in total, two adults and two three-year-olds. My friend and I learned for the first time that Bengal tigers could occasionally have white coats from the zoo’s two specimens. We found the adults napping and the 3-year-olds climbing ramps in their play area.
The amiable guide informed us that the three-year-olds could eat up to eight lbs of beef in one day and were already over 300 lbs. She also mentioned that the zoo has an arrangement with the department of transportation for recycling roadkill. Any deer carcasses found on the highway would be given to the zoo’s tigers.
The award-winning cougar exhibit was equally impressive. It featured a small hill of rocks at the center and simulated the cougar’s natural habitat. The cougar, Nashi, was so well-hidden that we had to walk along the perimeter of the habitat and explore it from every angle before spotting him.
The zoo is currently planning to add cheetahs to its collection of big cats. Cougar Mountain Zoo will be the only zoo in Washington state with cheetahs if this ambitious goal is realized.
All in all, our afternoon at the Cougar Mountain Zoo was very well spent. It may not be as large or well-known as the Woodland Park Zoo but it certainly has some unique exhibits that are worth visiting.