Experience Forests for All…a new exhibit experience coming to the zoo in 2026
Information from Woodland Park Zoo
An elusive kangaroo living in trees. A reddish-brown floof chilling atop the forest canopy. What do animals such as Papua Guinea’s Matschie’s tree kangaroos and Nepal’s red pandas have in common? Both these red furry animals are the faces of forests where conservation has become a community movement. Why? Because we need forests and now, with the health of the world’s forests at risk, forests need us. Only when forests thrive can nature reach its full potential as a climate solution.
Picture the stories of these animals and more in the new Forests for All exhibit experience coming to Woodland Park Zoo in 2026. Following a competitive process, the zoo has selected the Seattle-based LMN Architects as principal architects with CLR Design (Philadelphia and Capistrano Beach, Calif.) as habitat designers for the project, which will be on the site of the former Day and Night Exhibits.
The Day and Night Exhibits closed permanently after a fire in December 2016 caused extensive structural damage to the aging building; more than 180 animals were safely evacuated by animal keepers and the Seattle Fire Department. Since the fire, most of the displaced animals—reptiles and amphibians—have been placed at other accredited zoos. A Matschie’s tree kangaroo, which was also housed in the building, remains at the zoo with other members of the species in non-public areas.
Now after the completion of a multi-year insurance review and negotiation, the zoo—along with local and global communities—is envisioning the next opportunity to bring together animals, people and conservation at the heart of the zoo’s 92-acre urban forest.
The new Forests for All experience will build off of Woodland Park Zoo’s global conservation work, motivate guests to act to conserve forest habitats, and feature vulnerable and endangered animals representing forests of the world, including tree kangaroos. Much-adored red pandas, colorful birds, and fascinating reptiles and invertebrates will also make their home in the new forest.
“Woodland Park Zoo is itself an urban forest in the Emerald City in the Evergreen state. When we all come together to assure forests for all, we’re protecting more than habitats for animals and livelihoods for people,” said Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Alejandro Grajal. “We’re unlocking nature’s full potential as a carbon storage solution at a time when climate action is needed at a global scale.”
According to the climate action consortium Framing Our Future, of which the zoo is an inaugural partner, protecting forests and nature can provide as much as one-third of the climate action needed to reach global climate goals by 2030. “That’s why the exhibit experience will share the empowering story of the Papua New Guinea communities that have been working with Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program for 25 years to save one of the last intact cloud forests of the world,” added Grajal.
Guests will discover their own everyday connections to such communities and animals through the forest-friendly consumer choices they can make daily at home, in the office, at school, during a zoo visit, in their community, and at the polls—to make lasting and impactful change.
Public engagement will help shape the design phase in 2022. To assure the exhibit experience is accessible, relevant, and empowering to all communities, the zoo will invite the public to a suite of public input opportunities later this year including targeted outreach to communities that traditionally face barriers to accessing the zoo or nature. The zoo encourages community members to stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to participate and more project details at www.zoo.org/forestsforall. Construction is planned for 2024 and the exhibit opening in 2026.
With fundraising for the Forests for All exhibit experience already underway, the ambitious project that will bring the heart of Woodland Park Zoo back to life is the final, anchor capital project of a multi-year fundraising campaign that the zoo will launch more broadly later this year. The zoo seeks to raise a total of $19.5M in contributions for the Forests for All exhibit experience before December 31, 2024 to complete construction and open the experience to the public by 2026; additional project funding is provided by an insurance settlement. To make a gift, please visit www.zoo.org/forestsforall.