5 Unique Reasons You Should Visit Cougar Mountain Zoo

Talking Parrots, White Tigers & Screaming Lemurs, Oh My 

LOCATION

Cougar Mountain Zoo, a small education-focused zoo that is tucked inside a residential neighborhood on Cougar Mountain in Issaquah (about 25 minutes East of Seattle). 

EXPERIENCE INSPIRATION

 Harper and I with talking Macaws

Harper and I with talking Macaws

We had the day off of school because our teachers had a professional development day, so my Mom planned an outing for me and my friend Harper H. 

GOOD FOR

Kids and adults. Especially those who love tigers, cougars and wolves because you can see them closer than most zoos. 

HIGHLIGHTS

 Rainbows can often be spotted during Seattle sunbreaks

Rainbows can often be spotted during Seattle sunbreaks

The Cougar Mountain Zoo says that it is committed to raising awareness about wildlife conservation through education and it shows when you visit. They have many animal experts walking around, ready to talk with you about the species that live there. If you are ever doing a school project on animals, or just love to learn about them, check out the zoo's website (The Animals page), where they have a lot of information on each species living there. 

A bonus is that the views of Lake Sammamish and Park from many spots in the zoo are beautiful. We have seen rainbows at least 3 times during our visits. The zoo also has a bronze animal sculpture garden and wildlife track "sculpture library" that are nice to walk through on a sunny day. 

Because many of the animals and birds were born at the zoo, they are more used to humans, which allows for smaller barriers between you and the creatures and therefore closer viewing.  

There are unique many things to see and do at Cougar Mountain Zoo. 

ANIMAL FEEDING

You can feed animals throughout the zoo by purchasing a cup of apple bits at the admission gate. As you walk around, look for designated animal habitats where you can feed your apples to alpacas, cranes, emus, mule deer, reindeer, and wallabies. This is such a good way to get to know the animals and better understand their personalities.

TIGER FEEDING

They have a tiger feeding experience, which is a unique opportunity that you will not usually see in other zoos. During this unique experience you get to see the lovely, majestic, and beautiful tigers and feed them food. It is affordable ($18 per person), so something to consider doing if you are going to the zoo. Our family is going to do this soon!

 A rare opportunity to see the "Shadow Cat" up close.

A rare opportunity to see the "Shadow Cat" up close.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

In addition to the tiger feeding, you can have close encounter experiences with lemurs, cougars, mule deer, and reindeer. Most encounters do not require advance reservations, but it is probably a good idea to call ahead. 

THE TALKING MACAW PARROTS

The first time my Mom and I visited Cougar Mountain Zoo was during a warm, sunny weekday and not many other people were there. When we strolled into the Macaw habitat section of the zoo, we heard, "Hello," and we freaked out because there was nobody else around. After a minute, we figured out that it was a talking Macaw! We laughed and then started talking more to it...definitely a highlight (but you will only experience this if the weather is nice and the birds are in their outdoor habitat). While there, we talked to the Macaw zookeepers who told us about how the birds live more than 80 years, are more social than dogs and that they are disappearing because of the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. That experience inspired us to take a family adventure trip to Peru where we actually saw wild Macaws in the Amazon jungle! 

SPECIAL EVENTS

They have a cozy celebration cabin for hosting parties and the zoo hosts a Reindeer Festival every December. 

GALLERY AND GIFTS

There is also a fine arts gallery which features things like paintings of wildlife, sculptures, and crafts to buy.

It also has a zoo store called "Wild Treasures" Gift Shop that has all sorts of knick knacks, like cute animal stuffies and things to remember the zoo by.

Some of the information I used for this article came from www.cougarmountainzoo.org.

IF YOU GO

  • Eat before or after you go, because they do not have a cafe. If you can talk your parents into eating yummy junk food, consider the nearby fun, 50's diner XXX Root Beer or find healthier options at the restaurants in the Gilman Village shopping center. 
  • For a longer day of adventures on the East side, consider visiting the nearby Salmon Hatchery, or take a hike on a Cougar Mountain trail
 Me, standing next to Mackelmore's collectible Cadillac at "The Shop" in SODO. 

Me, standing next to Mackelmore's collectible Cadillac at "The Shop" in SODO. 

About the blogger: My name is Bella Stephens, and I am a 5th grader who loves to explore Seattle and the Pacific Northwest with my parents and friends. Currently, some of my favorite PNW places to visit are Seattle's MoPOP and Kubota Japanese Garden, Vancouver, BC, and the North Cascades Institute and Sun Mountain Lodge in Northeast Washington. I hope my articles inspire the young at heart to prompt their legal guardians to get out and experience the beautiful PNW.