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Expanding Our Commitment to Access at the Zoo

By: Alejandro Grajal, President and CEO

Imagine what it would be like if you never came to the zoo. You may have memories of your children enjoying the open space, learning about animals, or just being happy to share time with you. But in a wildly booming city like ours, we are also seeing increasing economic inequality. Too many of our neighbors, community groups, and families never have the chance to come and enjoy the zoo. As the President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo, I am proud of our efforts to more than double the opportunities to keep our zoo accessible to everyone in our community– whether it’s through complimentary passes to local nonprofit partners or through new programs we launched to make the zoo more affordable and accessible to all.

A quiet moment on the Northern Trail.
Through the $5 DiscoverTicket and a $35 Explorer Pass membership, current recipients of Washington Quest/EBT and/or WIC assistance will have more opportunities to visit the zoo. The $5 Discover Ticket will be available this September 4 through March 31, 2019 at all Woodland Park Zoo entrances for up to six individuals in the same family. Earlier in August, the zoo also launched the $35 Explorer Pass membership, which provides free admission for up to eight individuals to the zoo year round for current recipients of Washington Quest/EBT and/or WIC assistance. Due to the overwhelming popularity of this program, we were unable to provide a membership to everyone who applied, but future opportunities to apply for this family membership will begin in August 2019. I am also proud that our zoo participates in the Seattle Public Library Museum Pass program, which allows Seattle Library card holders to access free entry to the zoo by reserving through their website.

Soaking up the daisy-filled Molbak's Butterfly Garden!
Guests visit with Blueberry the hornbill at an Ambassador Animal encounter.
At the same time that we are finding a way to make the zoo more affordable, we are also continuing our popular Community Access Program. We partner with more than 600 human and social service organizations across Puget Sound to offer hundreds of thousands of complimentary zoo passes. This summer also saw the first of many Zoo for All events honoring individuals and families from the special needs community as well as current and former U.S. military personnel and their families. We hope that by creating more flexible options, we will become a nationwide model for other institutions to increase their accessibility and inclusivity.

A trip to the zoo is a chance to create or strengthen our relationship with nature. We cannot accomplish our mission of inspiring everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives unless we are accessible to everyone. These programs ensure that Woodland Park Zoo continues to reach the broadest audience possible while continuing our work to inspire the empathy and connection to nature that leads to conservation actions. After all, it will take all of us working on conservation to save species and protect wildlife both locally and globally.

Up close with a new friend at Family Farm.
Opening up Woodland Park Zoo to as many people as possible is simply the right thing to do, and we are proud to double the number of opportunities for the community to experience animals, nature and each other. We pride ourselves for being deeply embedded in our community and we want to welcome everyone to enjoy extraordinary experiences. These opportunities are only possible thanks to the generous public and private support the zoo receives and from guests like you.

The zoo belongs to everyone.  It has been a community treasure for more than 100 years, and my goal is to make it a zoo that everyone can experience.

If you have ideas for ways to continue to help make the zoo accessible and affordable for other groups, feel free to contact our Community Access Program at

Alejandro Grajal, President and CEO, with Coba the spectacled owl.
We hope to see you soon!