Skip to main content
Zoo News
Sep 24, 2020

Traditional Zoolights returns Nov. 27 – Jan. 3, with health and safety precautions.   Zoolights will return this holiday season to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new safety protocols and the traditional light displays that have lit up the community for the past 32 years. “We are thrilled to continue the longstanding tradition of … Continued

Sep 21, 2020

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is home to three sea otters in the Rocky Shores habitat. Every September, one week is dedicated to bringing awareness to sea otters. Sea otters are endangered, having been hunted nearly to extinction for their thick fur. Now protected, they are still at great risk from oil spill, parasites that … Continued

Sep 21, 2020

Aquarist John Foster cradled the vermilion rockfish gently in two hands, submersed. Anesthetized, it lay still as veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson took a quick documentary photo of its eyes, which bulged to each side. Then Foster lowered the fish – now fully awake – into a water-filled container that looked something like sci-fi author Jules … Continued

Sep 21, 2020

Shannon Smith stands outside on a fall day, calling out encouragement. “Foot!” she requests. Across the yard, her “buddy” of 24 years slowly lifts a leg, then puts it back down. “Good!” exclaims Smith, and offers an apple slice. It’s exercise time at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Smith is leading Suki the elderly … Continued

Sep 16, 2020

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has won two significant awards from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, announced today at the 2020 AZA online conference. One is shared with sister zoo Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The prestigious Edward Bean Award was given to Point Defiance Zoo in collaboration with the National Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology … Continued

Sep 16, 2020

How does it feel to be the oldest siamang? Well, for Cho Cho, snuggled up with his companion Dudlee on a crisp fall morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, it seemed pretty cozy. This year Cho Cho is celebrating his 54th birthday – which makes him the oldest siamang on record in human care … Continued

Sep 15, 2020

You could say the double bass is the walrus of the music world. Large, bottom-heavy, ungainly and prone to awkward blurting noises, it doesn’t win any beauty contests. It doesn’t star in glossy movies, and often gets laughs rather than admiration. But, like actual walruses, it’s also capable of a powerful grace – and a … Continued

Sep 01, 2020

TACOMA, Wash. – Boris, an elderly polar bear believed to be the oldest male of his species on the planet, was humanely euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Sept. 1 following a significant decline in his health. He was 34, a one-time circus bear who found a stable home in Tacoma, where he … Continued

Aug 27, 2020

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is reopening its Eye-to-Eye Shark Dives on Thursday, Sept. 10, with timed online tickets and enhanced safety protocols designed to help guests connect up close with sharks while staying safe and healthy. Timed online tickets will go on sale Aug. 28. The 60-minute adventure allows up to four guests from … Continued

Aug 19, 2020

Pakak the walrus has been busy visiting with the dentist. He was recently fitted for a new tusk crown. Walruses in zoos receive regular veterinary care, including dentist checkups. Walrus tusks don’t have a hard outer enamel layer like human teeth. So the tips of many walrus tusks have metal crowns placed on them to … Continued

Aug 14, 2020

Bentley stared into the distance, eyes half-closed in rapture. He leaned into the gentle strokes massaging his skin, and soaked up the sunlight. Then came the utter bliss of a scratch between his horns. It was day-spa time for goats at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as Zander and Lincoln Musselman, along with mom Sylvia, … Continued

Aug 10, 2020

Everyone knows shark teeth, right? Those big slathering daggers in scary movies? Uh, no. At least, there’s a lot more to shark teeth than the pop culture stereotypes. Some sharks are enormous – but have the tiniest teeth! Many sharks have different teeth in front compared to the back of their mouths, depending on what … Continued

Aug 07, 2020

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is currently home to nine species of sharks. They live among sea turtles, eagle rays and dozens of fish. The aquarists in both the Pacific Seas Aquarium and the South Pacific Aquarium have a unique way of feeding the sharks to ensure each one receives the food it needs to … Continued

Aug 06, 2020

Are you missing your family and friends? Do you want to wish them a socially distanced “Happy Birthday!” or “Congrats!”? Animal lovers can now share a special message with a wild touch, all from the comfort of your own couch! Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are now offering “Animal Shoutouts.” … Continued

Aug 04, 2020

Clouded leopards are endangered. Their tropical forests are being cut down for logging, human habitat and to grow palm oil, a common food product. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium plays a huge role in the conservation of clouded leopards in the wild. The Zoo is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) that keeps zoo … Continued

Jul 30, 2020

It’s a warm summer evening, and you’re out for a twilight walk. Suddenly, you spot a pair of bright eyes in the undergrowth. You freeze. A coyote steps out into the silence, bushy-tailed, followed by – yes! – three young pups. Quick as lightning, you whip out your phone and snap a photo. Alerted, they … Continued

Jul 27, 2020

Kali basks, sleepy in the sun. Her golden eyes are half-lidded, her orange-and-black stripes glossy. She’s the picture of tiger health, and gets the best care and enrichment humans can devise. But in the wild, other tigers aren’t so protected. Over 100 are killed every year for their fur and other body parts. Others are … Continued

Jul 23, 2020

Our new penguin chicks are learning to swim! Supervised carefully by keepers in a small, safe pool behind the scenes, they take the plunge and figure it out! They’ll stay there for a few weeks while keepers hand-feed and bond with them. Then, when they lose their downy fluff and grow in the waterproof plumage … Continued

Jul 21, 2020

National Zookeeper Week takes place July 19-25 this year. The week is devoted to sharing the passion and dedication of keepers. Even though Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was temporarily closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19, the keepers never took a pause. They are a dedicated group of people who work … Continued

Jul 17, 2020

July 18 is Global Women’s Dive Day, and we’re so proud of our women diver-aquarists here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Marine biologists who each have countless dive hours here inside our Pacific Seas Aquarium (PSA) and South Pacific Aquarium (SPA), as well as around the world, these ladies lead their fields in animal … Continued

Jul 13, 2020

We all love summer in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s no doubt that some days get pretty hot. Humans are pretty creative in finding ways to beat the heat – splashing, shade, cool clothes – and our Zoo animals do it too! Muskox Muskoxen are adapted for living above the Arctic Circle and nibbling for … Continued

Jul 09, 2020

Alex Trebek’s favorite animal is the muskox. Now, the longtime gameshow host has one named just for him. Meet Trebek, a fuzzy, four-week-old muskox calf at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Adoring fans voted online for his name, chosen from a slate of four offered by zookeepers at the Tacoma zoo. Out of 5,229 votes, … Continued

Jul 07, 2020

Mid-summer might seem like an odd time to think about ice, unless it’s in your drink. But as the planet gets hotter, our sea ice – which animals like polar bears, walrus, seals and Arctic fox need to survive – is vanishing. July 15 is Arctic Sea Ice Day, a great day to think about … Continued

Jul 02, 2020

Have you met Mitik and Pakak yet? Our young male walruses are definitely growing and showing their personalities! They moved here last year as part of a nationwide walrus breeding program, but being only eight years old they’re still in the “teenage” stage. And if you know teenage boys, you know things can get quite … Continued

Jun 30, 2020

He head-butted some rocks. He tasted some clover. Then he galloped back down the hillside to mom. Yes, it’s official – our baby muskox calf is a boy, and now his fans get to vote on his name. (UPDATE: Voting closed 12pm July 8.) The veterinary and animal care team confirmed the sex last Friday … Continued

Jun 30, 2020

It’s time for sharks! And green sea turtles, eagle rays and jellies too. The Pacific Seas Aquarium and South Pacific Aquarium are reopening July 1 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new protocols to keep guests safe and healthy. Oh, and guests will get to meet Bruno the green sea turtle, too. “Our aquarium … Continued

Jun 22, 2020

Tomatoes. Apples. Almonds. Pumpkin. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. All pretty important, right? And they all have one thing in common: they need pollinators. Around 1,000 plants that humans use for food, drink, fiber, spices or medicine need to be pollinated by a very special group of animals called pollinators. Bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, bats and … Continued

Jun 17, 2020

UPDATE June 29: The chicks have moved behind-the-scenes to learn how to swim. Read the story for more! There are the chill kind of parents, who just relax and enjoy their little one. Then there are the intense kind of parents, super-protective and alert. At Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we’ve got one pair of … Continued

Jun 16, 2020

Bruno, a 23-year-old Atlantic green sea turtle, is joining the Zoo’s two other turtles, Sunny and Azul, in the Pacific Seas Aquarium just in time to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day. Bruno arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium late last year from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. He’s been hanging out behind the … Continued

Jun 09, 2020

It’s a boy! Or maybe a girl! Whatever the gender, it’s pretty perfect timing for a birth announcement. Early Sunday morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Charlotte, a 621-pound muskox, gave birth to a calf, just as the Zoo was preparing to announce its June 18 reopening under Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe … Continued