3 Feature: Featured

The Newport Zoo

Zoo offers hands-on experiences with exotic animals

They’re unlikely stablemates: a pygmy goat, a silky chicken, a couple of llamas, a few pigs, an emu, and a dog. A trio of kangaroos shares an enclosure nearby. The stable itself is unconventional — a large part of a 7,000-square-foot former banquet hall at Aquarium Village in South Beach. A pair of macaws walk along the fence; other birds are perched up high in the rafters.

“My family has always had animals,” said Blaine Brown, founder of Newport Discovery Zoo, an animal sanctuary offering up-close encounters with threatened and endangered animals, animals you are likely to only encounter in zoos.

His grandfather imported animals for zoos, Brown explained. Brown owned pet stores in Spokane, Wash., before selling them when he came to the coast to care for his grandfather.

“I thought about a pet store, but people just don’t know how to take care of stuff,” he said. Instead of providing animals, why not set something up where people could come to visit these animals and learn about them, he thought.

He pointed out that alligators are illegal in all the western states, but people still seem to find ways to acquire them as pets. When alligators are confiscated, they are usually destroyed, Brown said. In addition to a pair of alligators, Brown said the zoo is home to a Nile crocodile, as well. 

Working with state agencies in Oregon and Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Exotic Animal Rescue, the zoo provides a home for animals that would otherwise be destroyed, educating the public on the often rarely seen animals, Brown said. The zoo works with Oregon Reptile Man, who usually takes animals on visits to schools and libraries but is currently doing online education.

The zoo has two Nile monitors, an African version of a Komodo dragon. “They’ll rip your arm. They don’t make good pets. People don’t comprehend how big they get, what their needs are, what they’re going to eat,” Brown said

Some current residents at the Zoo are alpacas, six-banded armadillos, kinkaju, poison dart frogs, fennec foxes, tortoises, African crested porcupine, Agouti, rattlesnakes, geckos, cobras, chameleons, tarantulas, fruit-dove, ducks, and rainbow lorikeet. 

“Resident critters come and go as they move on to other zoos, sanctuaries, become a part of important breeding programs, etc.”

The zoo is offering admission by appointment only at this time. Appointments can be made on their Facebook page or by phone at 541-961-6371. The zoo is located at 3101 SE Ferry Slip Road, South Beach