Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Discovery Programs at the Zoo

These formal presentations are designed to provide students with a foundation of information about an animal, a group of animals, or a habitat displayed at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Each program includes professional instruction and a hands-on experience with animal 'biofacts.'

Program Fees

$50 for groups of 5 - 30 students
$60 for groups of 31 - 40 students
$70 for groups of 41 - 50 students

Multiple programs may be scheduled for the same day, but we are unable to offer simultaneous programming. Unless otherwise noted, all Discovery Programs will take place in the Education Center and will last 30-45 minutes, depending on group size.

Wildlife Discovery: K - 5th Grades

Arctic Tundra
Like a frozen desert, the tundra challenges the survival of the animals that live there. Students will find out about the wild and woolly world of polar bears, reindeer, arctic fox and musk ox and make connections about how these tundra animals are able to survive in their chilly home. Hands-on items include a muskox pelt, a polar bear skull model and a reindeer antler.

Asian Forest
There are forests all over the world, filled with wondrous wildlife. Students will discover how forest animals in Washington compare to those in Southeast Asia and look closely at real tiger fur, an elephant tooth and models of a tiger and a tapir skull. Older students will also be asked to think about their impact on global forests.

Marine Mammals
We'll transform one of your students into a marine mammal as we discuss how these blubbery animals make their lives in the ocean and along the shore. Biofacts include a walrus tusk, sea otter fur and more. Younger students will do the "Seal Shimmy."

Ocean Invertebrates (PreK-2nd grade)
Some are squishy, some are pokey, but these spineless wonders are all well suited for survival. Students will discover these animals through colorful costumes and a instructor-led visit to the Marine Discovery Center's touch tank. This program is limited to 15 students but multiple programs may be booked. (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only - mid-April through August)

Polar Bears
These great white bears are the largest predator on land, but they also need sea ice to survive. Students will find out how these special bears survive in their chilly Arctic home. Younger students will learn a polar bear song while older students will find out what they can do to help protect polar bear habitat.

Puget Sound (3rd-5th grade)*
Join us in our Marine Discovery Center to encounter some of the amazing organisms found in the Puget Sound. Students will examine live plankton using microscopes and touch marine invertebrates such as crabs and sea stars, all under the guidance of one of our expert educators. This program runs up 45-60 minutes and is limited to 15 students per program, but multiple programs may be booked. (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only - mid-April through August)

Red Wolves
Students will be excited to learn about this amazing endangered species. They will find out why there are so few red wolves left in North America, where they can be found, and what is being done to protect them. This program also includes a hands-on experience with a red wolf pelt, skull and radio tracking collar.

Sharks

Dive into the world of sharks! Students will find out about shark fins, gills, teeth and special skin. Older students will also learn about shark diversity and conservation issues. This program meets at the Education Center but students are encouraged to visit the sharks in the South Pacific Aquarium either before or after their program. The program includes an opportunities for student to touch real jaws and shark skin.

Skulls 101
Some animals have teeth for grinding up plants while others sport teeth adapted for tearing the flesh of their prey. Still others have a little of both! Students will test their scientific observation skills as they classify and identify real skulls and skull models.           

 
6th grade - College Programs

Marine Mammals
Sea otters, pinnipeds, cetaceans and even polar bears have all evolved to depend on the ocean for survival. Students will learn about how each of these groups is specially adapted to life in a marine habitat. Biofacts include a sea otter pelt, walrus tusk and gray whale baleen.

Polar Bears and Climate Change
These incredible marine mammals are superbly adapted to live on the icy Arctic Ocean. However, increasing global temperatures have led to decreases in bear populations due to a variety of factors that will be discussed during this program. Students will be encouraged to consider a personal behavior change that reduces their own impact on global warming.

Red Wolves
While red wolf breeding programs have helped to increase wild red wolf populations from 14 to over 100, these elusive animals are still critically endangered. Students will learn the suspected causes of their near extinction and find out what is being done today to protect them in their rapidly shrinking habitat.

Sharks
Many of us are fascinated by or possibly afraid of these specialized fish. Students will learn about shark adaptations, their role in marine ecosystems and the challenges shark populations face in the oceans today. The program concludes with an opportunity for hands-on exploration of shark skin and jaws, including a life-sized replica of a whale shark jaw.

Skulls 101
Some animals have teeth for grinding up plants while others sport teeth adapted for tearing the flesh of their prey. Some animals have a little of both! Students will test their scientific observation skills as they classify and identify real skulls and skull models.

Zoological Careers
Students will gather information about what it takes to work with wildlife in a zoological setting. We'll discuss the skills, education and experience required to enter this competitive field, and talk about what a typical work day is like at a zoo or aquarium.

Zoos: Working for the World's Wildlife
Discover how zoos act as wildlife sanctuaries and support conservation. Highlighted projects include breeding programs for endangered species and education efforts both at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and in situ around the world. This program is limited to high school and college students.