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Zoo News
Dec 12, 2019

’Twas the month before Christmas and inside Kids’ Zone, The meerkats received a surprise of their own; A stocking was hung on the rock wall with care, But the one on the ground was a different affair! The keepers had filled it with fat mealworm treats – (a favorite food for all meerkats to eat) … Continued

Dec 09, 2019

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s two new walruses Mitik and Pakak are adjusting well to their new home in Rocky Shores, even exploring different areas of the exhibit than other walruses before them. “They seem to be getting along well. They’re wrestling around a lot and practicing behaviors they will need as they grow up,” … Continued

Dec 04, 2019

Olympia, Washington native comes from South Sound career of nonprofit “servant leadership.”   For Sarah Oliver, leadership is all about helping people achieve their mission. The Olympia, Washington native with a career in nonprofit leadership is bringing her people-focused expertise to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as its new deputy director. The position oversees all … Continued

Dec 03, 2019

Glue? Tape? Dye? It’s all part of our mission to help protect polar bears in the wild, with a new scientific study that Zoo guests may soon watch in action. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, with its beloved polar bears Boris and Blizzard, has worked for years with the non-profit Polar Bears International (PBI) to … Continued

Dec 03, 2019

It’s a long way from Tacoma, Washington to Churchill, Manitoba: about 1,420 miles as the crow flies, at least eight hours by plane. There’s no road. In icy isolation on Canada’s Hudson Bay, it’s a world away from the lush, evergreen Puget Sound region. The thing the two towns have in common? Polar bears – … Continued

Nov 21, 2019

Our newest goat kids at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium were introduced for the first time to guests last Thursday. Siblings Marion and Jupiter went for a walk around the zoo with their keepers. Now three months old, born on August 12, the brother and sister weigh about 20 pounds each. “This is their first … Continued

Nov 15, 2019

They were rescued as orphans in the same week. They spent the next three months of their lives together, snuggling with keepers and each other. And now, after seven years, they’ll be together again. Young male walruses Mitik (pronounced Mitt-ick) and Pakak (Puck-uck, or Puck for short) have arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium … Continued

Nov 07, 2019

It looked like a regular school assembly – until they brought out the polar bear skull. On a gray November afternoon, the kids at Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma’s south end filed into the gym. Excited voices rose and fell as staff from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium connected technology on the stage. Then a … Continued

Nov 01, 2019

It’s a problem, just how many spots Kazu the tapir calf has. Not for him, of course – the spots are excellent camouflage. But for Dennis Parkhurst and Mason Patzer, carpenters at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the baby tapir’s watermelon-spotted coat presented a challenge: How to illuminate all those spots in a Zoolights display? … Continued

Oct 25, 2019

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the zoo, we bring you – Halloween in the Aquarium! Arms covered with suckers. Backs covered with eyes. Lumpsuckers, tentacles, vacuum mouths and just plain scary faces. (Plus a white crab nicknamed “Casper.”) If you’re looking for weird, cool or slightly icky, our Pacific Seas … Continued

Oct 23, 2019

They communicate with each other. Send out pheromones when stressed. Adapt their bodies to the environment. Care for their children. Live in community. Breathe. No, we’re not talking animals here, or humans. We’re talking trees – those giants who include the oldest, heaviest and tallest living beings on the planet, and about whom science is … Continued

Oct 23, 2019

Calling all teens to save the ocean! Our ocean is in danger – from plastic, pollution, overfishing and climate change. But thanks to a partnership between Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium, local youth can learn and be inspired to help protect it. The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is a one-day event from … Continued

Oct 22, 2019

Puffins! Barn owls! Moon jellies! There was a parade of animals at Tacoma Public School’s Arlington Elementary on September 30, 2019 – not literally, but as class mascots for a new crop of Wildlife Champions. The school was kicking off year two of the science-in-nature partnership with Metro Parks Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, … Continued

Oct 15, 2019

For Veterinary Technician Week 2019, we’re not just celebrating our wonderful vet techs – we’re introducing them! Vet techs assist veterinarians in every aspect of animal health care, and they care deeply about our animals – often in very practical ways. We couldn’t care for our animals without them. Meet Sara Dunleavy, full-time clinical veterinary … Continued

Oct 15, 2019

For Veterinary Technician Week 2019, we’re not just celebrating our wonderful vet techs – we’re introducing them to you! Vet techs assist veterinarians in every aspect of animal health care, and they care deeply about our animals – often in very practical ways. We couldn’t care for animals without them. Meet Julie Lemon, full-time vet … Continued

Oct 10, 2019

On a fine day this summer, Stephanie Rager, staff biologist at the Zoo’s Rocky Shores habitat, went for a hike. After three miles and a lot of uphill walking at the remote edge of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, she arrived with two other women at the rocky outcrop of Sand Point. There they set up a … Continued

Oct 09, 2019

Cindy Roberts and Sheriden Ploof stood in long rubber boots on the edge of the walrus pool, metal bucket in hand. For the two Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff biologists, it was a bittersweet moment. Basilla and Kulusiq, the zoo’s two female walruses, were leaving for a new home in sunny San Diego – … Continued

Oct 07, 2019

It’s possibly the best job in the world. Adrienne Umpstead, staff biologist at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, sits in a pool of sunlight just near the tamandua habitat. One foot propped on a stool, her lap is covered with a small pillow and fleece blanket. One hand is poised with a bottle; the other … Continued

Oct 01, 2019

Kulu loves playing with a hose waterfall. Basa gives a deep sigh if she’s not in the mood for something. Cumulatively, they’ve lived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for 16 years. Our lady walruses Kulusiq and Basilla are leaving for SeaWorld San Diego, and we’re giving them two weekends of farewell: Oct. 5-6 and … Continued

Sep 25, 2019

Agaves with shark teeth. Trees that poke you. Carnivorous plants. If you think the plant world is all about pretty flowers, it’s time to think again – and time for the Zoo’s annual Savage Garden tour. No, not the band. The actual Zoo garden, which is full of poky, skeletal and otherwise Halloween-themed plants – … Continued

Sep 09, 2019

Our red wolf pups are growing up into adolescents – and now they have dyed fur to boot. Now 18 weeks old, the pups born on May 10 are now between 22-28 pounds each – that’s around half the weight of their petite mom, Charlotte. They’ll keep gaining around a pound a week for the next … Continued

Sep 06, 2019

  The San Diego Zoo, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are partnering to provide a virtual adventure television channel in Mary Bridge Children’s hospital patient rooms. This new channel is being provided by San Diego Zoo Global as part of its children’s hospital network that airs … Continued

Sep 03, 2019

Big news: Our new baby tamandua is a girl, and her name is Chiquita! And since her weight was low at birth and she was slow to gain weight despite nursing, she’s getting extra veterinary and keeper care around the clock to help her grow and thrive. “She’s doing very well,” said head veterinarian Dr. … Continued

Aug 29, 2019

When you think ‘edible gardening,’ you usually don’t imagine growing banana trees for elephants. But Bryon Jones does. The lead horticulturalist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has created an entire garden devoted to plants that zoo animals can munch, nibble or chew. It’s usually hidden from public view. But on this Sunday’s free garden … Continued

Aug 29, 2019

UPDATE: Kazu made his public debut Aug. 30. He and Yuna are now viewable in the Asian Forest Sanctuary late morning-early afternoon on weekends. Trotting over green grass. Figuring out stairs. Swimming. A brand-new, exciting world for Kazu the tapir calf is in store this weekend at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, as the seven-week-old … Continued

Aug 21, 2019

If you’re an apex jungle predator, it’s pretty important to have strong teeth. So when Kirana, one of the four Sumatran tigers at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, needed some work on a fractured canine last week, she had a team of 12 veterinarians, veterinary dentists, technicians and keepers to take care of her. “Can … Continued

Aug 21, 2019

In the Budgie Buddies exhibit early one morning, there’s a sudden hush. It’s the sound of 100 brand-new budgies, all perched in a row on the roof, and all stopping their chatter in one unified moment. Then abruptly, they dive in perfect formation, like a flashing school of fish, and swoop back up to restart … Continued

Aug 21, 2019

He’s thriving, growing and exploring the pool: The endangered Malayan tapir calf born July 12 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is nearly ready to meet his adoring fans. But before he does, he needs a name. Members of the public were invited to vote on one of five names chosen by keepers in the … Continued

Aug 20, 2019

A boy? A girl? We won’t know for a while, but the Southern tamandua pup born Sunday night at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – the first in the zoo’s history – is a very welcome addition to the family. The baby tamandua – a small, arboreal species of anteater native to South America – … Continued

Aug 14, 2019

If the tiger is the king of the jungle, then the anoa would be the gardener. They’re not iconic like an elephant, or acrobatic like a siamang. They don’t star in Pixar movies or cartoons. Even in the jungle, they can be impossible to find. But this tiniest species of buffalo just 30 inches tall … Continued