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Zoo News
May 21, 2019

It was a sunny Saturday in Tacoma – perfect for the beach. But as Zach Hawn and Kailee Bynum picked their way across Owen Beach with five Zoo volunteers, they weren’t just there for the weather. They were there to count and clean up trash, joining dozens of walkers, kayakers and even divers in the … Continued

May 21, 2019

As a young boy watches, face pressed to the glass wall, a flood of bubbly white water gushes through the Tidal Surge habitat. As water washes over them, green anemones wave and pink sea stars cling to the rocks. The bubbles subside and the boy stares, enthralled – even before he’s set foot inside the … Continued

May 16, 2019

PUPDATE! – NAME THE PUPS Help choose names for our eight adorable red wolf pups. Take the survey HERE.   When Dr. Karen Wolf picks up eight newborn red wolf pups one by one, it’s more than just a routine – though adorable – new pup exam. It’s a victory. “American red wolves are critically … Continued

May 15, 2019

On the steps of the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, there’s a little boy in a shark T-shirt. He’s clutching a blanket, and staring wide-eyed as an armadillo scuttles across the stage. He looks just like most of the other kids in the audience, who are equally enthralled. But Keller Kadel, 6, is different in a … Continued

May 14, 2019

First there was Walnut, a male beaver living at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Then came Nutmeg, a female beaver who came to the zoo from sister zoo Northwest Trek as a companion for Walnut. And now baby makes three. Born late last month, the new kit is thriving and growing daily. Fuzzy brown, around … Continued

May 13, 2019

PUPDATE! – NAME THE PUPS Help choose names for our eight adorable red wolf pups. Take the survey HERE.   And suddenly, there are eight. What appeared at first to be a litter of four rare red wolf pups on Friday afternoon became a squirming mass of eight, yes, count them, EIGHT!, healthy newborns over … Continued

May 06, 2019

Q: Where in the world would you find an elephant, a sea turtle and an axolotl all together? A: In Species in the Sand, the new sand sculpture this summer at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Beginning mid-May, our sculpting team led by Tacoma native Sue McGrew will return to create another incredible sculpture – … Continued

May 02, 2019

No, you won’t find a Tyrannosaurus next to the tigers. But Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has dozens of living things whose roots go back hundreds of millions of years. Ferns, mosses, cycads and ginkoes – not to mention the Wollemi pine or monkey puzzle tree. Yep, we’re talking plants: living fossils that have been … Continued

Apr 29, 2019

On the stage at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, two dogs are waiting to ride a “hot air balloon” (actually, a basket and beach ball on a cable). One, with dark brown patches and a blue bandanna round his neck, sits patiently – then hops inside confidently. The other dog, lighter brown with a purple … Continued

Apr 29, 2019

It’s like being inside a cloud of excited children who’ve all been given a bright yellow jacket and two cups of coffee. We’re inside Budgie Buddies on a sunny spring morning – perfect budgie weather, says keeper Ariel Woodruff. She and fellow keeper Heather Burns have been doing the spring cleaning before this popular habitat … Continued

Apr 24, 2019

It’s magical enough to stand inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium and gaze at shimmering scales, cruising sea turtles or impossibly long wolf eels. But with x-ray vision, a whole new underwater world reveals itself. Thanks to our veterinary team, who regularly take radiographs of our Pacific Seas Aquarium animals to check on their health and … Continued

Apr 17, 2019

UPDATE: May 1, 2019 We did it! We made 3,600 paper turtles, glueing them onto ten blue silk “waves” to create a cascading spiral of ocean beauty in the Pacific Seas Aquarium. And we raised $10,068 for ocean conservation, thanks to the Ocean Art Challenge sponsored by the Bezos Family Foundation, and all the hundreds … Continued

Apr 08, 2019

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

Mar 27, 2019

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

Feb 28, 2019

Zoological Aide Katie Schachtsick holds a long-handled back-scratcher and applies just the right amount of pressure as she rubs it across the black-and-white hide of endangered Malayan tapir Yuna. It’s clear Yuna enjoys the attention – and the back rub – leaning into the scratcher and then moving her stout legs down, getting into a … Continued

Feb 25, 2019

Cross your paws. And think of tiger cubs! Our endangered female Sumatran tigers, 5-year-old Kali and 4-year-old Kirana, could be pregnant. Both were artificially inseminated Jan. 30 with sperm from 14-year-old Mohan. We won’t know for a few weeks if a pregnancy resulted, but if successful, tiger cubs would be born in May. But it … Continued

Feb 14, 2019

At Arlington Elementary in South Tacoma, 25 kids are wiggling into blue rain jackets. As a teacher corrals them into line, they hop around excitedly, chatting to the four Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff helping them. “Are we going to the park?” “Are we doing science again?” When the Zoo staff smile and nod, … Continued

Jan 31, 2019

As part of the Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration, come every weekend of April for something totally new and wonderful! From filmmakers to performers and community science, we’ve got it all.   April 6-7: Lelavision music/dance When: 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm (30 mins each) Where: Baja Bay Vashon Island-based duo Lelavision combine musical sculpture, dance, circus … Continued

Jan 31, 2019

As part of the Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration, we’re having a special ocean storytime at 11am every Thursday in the Baja Bay area of the Pacific Seas Aquarium! Fun for for kids and adults. All activities free with Zoo admission. Join us!   April 4: Critter Club – Super Sea Turtles  When: 11am Where: … Continued

Jan 30, 2019

As part of our Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration this April, we’re filling every Friday with art! Join our talented Pacific Seas Aquarium artists each Friday to meet them, find out how they make things and then make some art of your own! On the final Friday, we join with hundreds of others all around … Continued

Jan 30, 2019

Ocean Voices Speaker Series As part of the Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration, every Tuesday evening this April we’re gathering the best local scientists and ocean folks we can find for a dynamic speaker series at venues around Tacoma. Come listen, learn and be inspired to protect our ocean. All events are free.   April … Continued

Jan 28, 2019

We’re all feeling the cold right about now in the Pacific Northwest – and the rest of the country too. But here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, our animals have some pretty cool ways to deal with it. From fur coats to heated hammocks, here are five ways our animals beat the winter cold. … Continued

Jan 28, 2019

Rainy day? Here in the Pacific Northwest we get a lot of them. But that’s actually one of the best times to visit the Zoo! Fewer crowds, cool animals and plenty of places to stay dry. Here are 10 ways to do it. 1. Gaze at sea turtles Our new Pacific Seas Aquarium is the … Continued

Jan 23, 2019

At age 33, Boris is very likely the oldest male polar bear on the planet. We know he’s the oldest male of his species in zoo-related databases that keep track of polar bears worldwide. And since polar bears live longer under human care than they do in the wild, we think he is the champ. … Continued

Jan 22, 2019

Ask Grace Doleshel why she loves the ocean, and she bubbles with memories of family visits to the rugged Olympic coast: exploring tide pools, walking miles of wild beaches. Shay Steeves also grew up with a love of the sea, swimming and exploring Puget Sound shores. But the high school seniors have another thing in … Continued

Jan 09, 2019

New year, new tiger. There’s a cool new cat in town, and he’s making his official public debut this weekend, with appearances in the main Asian Forest Sanctuary Waterfall Exhibit at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Our keepers will talk about Bandar and give him some enrichments. His name is Bandar, and he’s a … Continued

Jan 07, 2019

Behind the Asian Forest Sanctuary at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, volunteer Scott Murdock has disappeared behind a vine. The massive spread of large, furling leaves engulfs Murdock’s head, leaving visible just legs on a ladder. Sprawled in the sun, the vines smell rich and green. It’s the Zoo’s kiwifruit arbor, and Murdock gently twists … Continued

Jan 02, 2019

She’s calm and confident– and loves her breakfast. Moea (pronounced “Mia”) is the newest sea otter at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and she’s already settling into life at the Rocky Shores habitat with our other otters Libby and Sekiu. She’ll make her official debut with them Jan. 5 and 6, with special sea otter … Continued