The bears are stretching after a long winter. The tigers are lolling in the sun. Monkeys are playfully swinging from their perches, and even some of the bats are flying about, though most continue to hang by their feet, sleeping through the warm, radiant day.

Springtime at The Oregon Zoo awakes the animals and from the looks of the crowds clustered around the exhibits, the humans too. The zoo knows no age limit. It is for every kid - infant to senior citizen.

The zoo - which covers 64 acres and has annual attendance of more than 1 million people - is located within five minutes of downtown Portland. It's easily accessible just off Highway 26, or a short ride on the MAX light rail line.

Don your walking shoes, take along some bottled water, sun screen and perhaps a picnic lunch, and plan to spend a good part of the day enjoying the exhibits which represent various parts of the world: Africa, the Alaskan tundra, Asian elephants, Amazon flood forest and those are just the exhibits beginning with "A."

Don't miss the chance to interact with the Lorikeets by offering them some liquid available at the entrance to the aviary. These colorful birds will swoop down and drink right from the cup in your hand.

The zoo houses several famous residents. Packy, an Asian elephant, was the first elephant born in North America who survived, and is one of the most famous inhabitants. This year Packy turned 42 years old.

Inji, a resident orangutan, is recognized nationally for being able to forecast the winner of Super Bowl and Civil War football games. Before the big games, the trainers put T-shirts in her cage with the opposing teams names on them. Inji selects the T-shirt of the team who will win and she has never been wrong.

The polar bears are a crowd pleaser too.

"People think they are so soft and cuddly," says Krista Swan, of the Oregon Zoo. "Actually, they are not cuddly at all. They are dangerous animals."

Swan suggests checking out the zoo on its Web site (www.oregonzoo.org) before visiting in person.

The site is update constantly and viewers can find out what's happening and all about the animals.

Among the upcoming events ia the Mother's Day, May 10, when Chef Paul Warner prepares a buffet - everything you can imagine on the menu from seasonal fruits, to made-to-order omelets, to smoked salmon tortellini, to fresh asparagus, and desserts.

This event sells out fast and Swan advises to call (503)-525-4299 for reservations. The cost is $18.95 per adult and $8.95 for children 3-11. Entrance to zoo not included.

"We have events, classes and concerts scheduled throughout the spring and summer," Swan continues. "Memorial weekend we are opening the second phase of The Great Northwest. For people coming from out-of-town, be sure to check our Web site for details and the special prices some downtown hotels offer in conjunction with a visit to the zoo."

For more information, call (503) 226-1561.

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