Seattle's Child

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Rainy day Humboldt Penguins at the Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo's Humboldt Penguins are fun to watch on rainy days.

8 reasons to visit Woodland Park Zoo on a rainy day in Seattle

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK NEWS: The Woodland Park Zoo has closed some high-traffic indoor areas for at least three weeks starting March 5, including the Zoomazium, the Tropical Rainforest, Willawong Station and the historic Carousel. The zoo will remain open.

The raindrops are pattering on the windows and the long-range forecast consists of a row of tiny clouds with diagonal lines underneath them. You need to get your family out of the house doing something active. Here are eight reasons why putting on your rain gear and going to the Woodland Park Zoo is a fun choice.


You can duck out of the rain and watch from sheltered observation area, under the water level, as the Woodland Park Zoo’s Humboldt Penguins zip around their geothermally heated pool.

There’s lots of zoo indoors.

If you’re not in the mood to brave the rain, you don’t need to. There are more than a dozen indoor areas and sheltered observation places around the zoo. Gorillas, meerkats, Savannah animals and sloths: You can see them all from the dry. The zoo even provides a Rainy Day Map so you can find the driest route from place to place.

Snow leopards

You know what animals like cold drizzly weather? Snow leopards. These and other cold weather creatures (such as red pandas) are more active in winter weather than they are on warm days.

You’ll save money

Through the end of March, Woodland Park Zoo has “Gray Days Discounts,” with admission30 percent cheaper.

Tropical Rain Forest

If you really want to get away from Seattle’s clammy weather for a little while, duck into the hot, humid Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. If you’re lucky and patient, you might see an ocelot. Easier to spot: poison dart frogs, the yellow anaconda, golden lion tamarins, and colorful toucans. As the rain pounds outside, you can sit on the benches in the bird enclosure and try and spot all the beautiful and noisy tropical birds.


Zoomazium, the zoo’s indoor play area for kids 8 and younger, has plenty to explore with all senses. Kids can ascend the 20-foot Strangler Fig, explore a mountain cave and learn about nature. It can get loud in there, so if that isn’t compatible with your family, consider stopping in on Fridays, when the Strangler Fig is closed, and the Zoomazium focuses on soothing, exploratory activities good for those with sensory sensitivities.

Northern Trail

If you want to see animals that thrive in the cold, the best area in the zoo is he Northern Trail, which showcases animals common to Alaska. Wolves, grizzly bears and elk love it when it’s cool. The path of the trail ends with a large shelter overlooking two amazing windows. One is on the pool of the Grizzly exhibit, where the bears frequently swim. The other takes in the river otter exhibit, where you can see river otters dive, slide and play with each other.

No crowds

One animal you’ll see less of: people. This means minimal waits at feeding stations or the carousel, and nobody in your way when you get to a viewing window. The Zoomazium may still be noisy, but much of the zoo is quiet – just you and the animals.

Related: Why hippos Lily and Lupe are leaving Woodland Park Zoo