Tag Archives: cougars

Close Encounters at the Cougar Mountain Zoo

Last weekend we finally got around to visiting the Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah and it was a delight. The grounds are kept extremely clean and well landscaped. Viewing the animals doesn’t require binoculars and in some cases you’re allowed to feed them special food.

Why it is so entertaining to watch alpacas eat chunks of apples, I don’t know, but it sure is. I often wonder if the zoo animals feel the same way about us humans.


This zoo is one of the smaller ones, which makes the experience a bit more intimate plus a little easier on the budget. Zookeepers roaming the grounds are eager to talk with you and answer your questions.


To ensure a good quality of life for their animal residents, the Cougar Mountain Zoo exhibits just ten different kinds of animals – cougars, lemurs, cranes, reindeer, macaws, wallabies, flightless birds, alpacas and tigers. Throughout the day zookeepers offer information-rich presentations on these different animals at the Wildlife Theatre.

Of course, the Wild Treasures Gift Shop features toys, gifts and educational items. But this zoo also has a Fine Arts Gallery and a Wildlife Museum.

If you’d like to get closer to the animals, a number of “close encounters” are available for an additional charge. Tigers, cougars, mule deer and reindeer are all on this list. With the reindeer encounter you help the zookeeper prepare their food, clean the habitat and barn, and then feed them. Then you assist in exercising and training one of them.


If you’ve not had a chance to visit the Cougar Mountain Zoo, I suggest you put it on your to-do list.

Northwest Trek: Where Everyday is Different

One of my favorite outings has got to be Northwest Trek, our 725-acre wildlife park. On any given day you may spot bighorn sheep, deer, Roosevelt elk, caribou, mountain goats, bison or other animals in their natural habitat. This is not a zoo, by any means.                                            

Instead, you hop on a tram that navigates roads through lakes trails and meadows that are home to more than 200 free-roaming North American animals. You’ll only see the animals that feel like being seen that day. But some of them often block the path of the tram to get a closer look at you.

Every season brings a different look to the landscaping as well as to the animals that might be visible. With spring comes lush greenery and baby animal season, in summer the calves and fawns are much more prevalent, come fall and you’ll hear bugling as that’s considered rutting or breeding season and in winter the place is quiet and even muted should snow decide to fall.


Besides the wildlife viewable from the tram, grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls and more have taken up residence in some very natural exhibits.

Events ‘r us should be the nickname for Northwest Trek, because something is always going on. Next up is Trek Trails Weekend on June 4 and 5 where they open their newly renovated trail system. Along with that, the staff has come up with a Quest-like scavenger hunt. Follow clues to find letters and when done, unscramble the letters to discover a surprise at the end.

Tramming It Through Northwest Trek

Let’s face it. Animals are fascinating to watch and even more so when they roam in their natural habitat. At Northwest Trek in Eatonville, the lakes, trails and meadows that make up the 725-acre park host bighorn sheep, deer, elk, caribou, mountain goats, bison and more.

Trams take visitors on a ride to see which animals have made themselves visible that day. It’s always different. The animals are not at all bothered by the trams and might choose to block the road. Or put on a show for you.

The seasons make the experience unique, also. During the winter, the park remains quiet and the animals frisky in the chilly temperatures. Spring marks the beginning of baby season and during the summer you’ll see all different varieties of animal babies. In the fall the cycle starts again with rutting or mating season.

Besides the above animals, you can also see grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars and wetland animals in natural exhibits, which are a little more confining, but necessary for safety’s sake.

My favorite part of Northwest Trek is the wealth of activities they offer like S’mores and Snores Family Camps where you spend the night with the animals, the keeper tours, photo tours and the educational workshops and tours.

Because it’s winter now, Trek is only open Fridays through Sundays, but it’s well worth a visit.

Why not give someone in your family the experience of visiting Northwest Trek as a holiday gift?

Visit www.nwtrek.org to find out more.