About Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest, features animals from the Pacific Rim area.

The 29-acre zoological park is the No. 2 tourist destination in Pierce County, second only to Mount Rainier and attracts over 600,000 visitors a year. The Zoo sits within 700-acre Point Defiance Park, offering spectacular views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. It is operated by the Tacoma Metropolitan Park District.


National Recognition

2007 North America Conservation Award for the Red Wolf Breeding Program

2006 AZA Education Award for the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater

2006 Munson Aquatic Conservation Exhibitry Award for the seahorse exhibit "Once Upon a Tide: a Seahorse Odyssey"


Animal Care and Conservation

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is progressive in its care and handling of animals. For example, the staff pioneered more humane, reward-based methods of elephant keeping in the early 1990s. All animal training at Point Defiance is reward-based and has one of three purposes: teaching natural behaviors that help visitors understand the animals, teaching large animals to assist with their medical care and teaching behaviors that enrich the animals' lives. The animals are not asked to perform "tricks."

The Zoo also is a major player in the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife's red wolf long-term breeding program, which is making strides in rebuilding the endangered species in the wild. The Zoo is becoming increasingly involved in conservation efforts with other animals whose futures are in peril. The Zoo's Conservation Committee awards thousands of dollars in conservation grants each year, and staff members are sent to help with projects as far away as Thailand.