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Zoo News
Sep 23, 2021

Russell Pharr, a staff biologist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). AAZK supports zookeepers through professional development opportunities and supports deserving conservation projects. AAZK has over 100 local chapters across the U.S. and Canada, including the Point Defiance AAZK … Continued

Sep 21, 2021

Heavy as velvet, a bumblebee bounces over yellow coneflower petals. Next door a golden honeybee dives headfirst into a red salvia blossom to sip. And across the pathway, a hummingbird zips and chitters. The Nature Play Garden at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium might not be ready for human guests yet, but it’s buzzing – … Continued

Sep 20, 2021

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 13, 2021

It’s one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. It’s used for buildings, dishes, musical instruments. It’s food for animals and people. And there are over 45 types at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. We’re talking bamboo, that leggy, elegant plant known for both lush garden vibes as well as gardener headaches if it gets … Continued

Sep 08, 2021

Happy Howl-o-ween! Dress up like a cat (meow-lo-ween!), monkey, elephant or whatever your favorite animal is and then see that same real-life animal at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium during Zoo Boo weekend, Oct. 16-17. The annual fun, fall-themed weekend is always a hoot among parents, kids and Zoo staff. Even the animals get a … Continued

Sep 08, 2021

Just above floor level at the Red Wolf Woods habitat, a young girl crouches low. Open-mouthed in wonder, she slowly runs her fingers over the soft snout of a sleeping red wolf pup. But the pup doesn’t snap – or even stir. It’s “Just Settling In,” a near-life-size sculpture set deliberately within reach of curious … Continued

Aug 27, 2021

What’s the best way to take your first swim? Well, if you’re a hand-reared penguin chick, you find a penguin buddy. On a hot day in August, penguin chick Rio had his first swim session in a behind-the-scenes pool at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and his buddy was big sister penguin Maxine … Continued

Aug 26, 2021

What better way to go back-to-school than at an aquarium? Here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have two huge aquariums to choose from, with schools of fish to make any Dr. Seuss fan happy! Here’s our version of the familiar classic. Read, then come and meet all the characters in real life, at … Continued

Aug 24, 2021

After a week of public voting, fans chose Gertie as the name for the new giant Pacific octopus in the Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The name was one of six names chosen by aquarists. Over 7,100 votes came in online during the week, and the race was close. Gertie topped … Continued

Aug 16, 2021

On an overcast morning, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s jelly team readies their boat and heads out into Puget Sound to a cove between Vashon and Maury Islands. The goal: collecting moon jellies. Moon jellies are plentiful in the waters around the Pacific Northwest and the jelly team will try to collect up to 100 … Continued

Aug 16, 2021

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is inviting the community to help name the new female giant Pacific octopus inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium. The zoo’s aquarists have chosen six names and are asking the public to vote for their favorite. Those names are: Gertie: referring to the Tacoma legend that the largest octopus in the … Continued

Aug 13, 2021

As a powerful heat wave hits the greater Tacoma area with temperatures nearing 100-degrees, keepers at both Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash. and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, Wash. are finding ways to keep the animals cool. At Point Defiance Zoo, 2-month-old penguin chick Rio is just learning how to swim … Continued

Aug 11, 2021

Whenever Friday the 13th rolls around, even the least superstitious of us might look askance at a black cat or shiver at an owl hoot. But animal superstitions, although fun, can cause pretty bad luck for the wildlife who cross their paths. After all, we live in a world where 350,000 tourists can visit Scotland … Continued

Aug 03, 2021

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 28, 2021

Bandar likes Kali. Kali likes him but it depends on the day. Indah adores Raja but sometimes he’d just prefer food. Kirana’s not a fan of either guy, but she’ll play along when she wants. If this sounds like a complicated Tinder triangle (or pentagon) to you, you’re not wrong. Tiger breeding is happening with … Continued

Jul 27, 2021

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out … Continued

Jul 26, 2021

It’s the ultimate matchmaker job. Dr. Karen Goodrowe, general curator at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, has spent her career researching and guiding animal reproduction in zoos – particularly big cats like clouded leopards and tigers. Now she’s the coordinator for all three tiger Species Survival Plan® programs in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums … Continued

Jul 26, 2021

Faced with the knowledge that only 400 animals of a vital species were left in the whole world, what would you do? Would you help them have more cubs? Try to build up their habitat and prey? Make sure nobody killed them unnecessarily? The answer is all three – and that’s exactly what organizations around … Continued

Jul 26, 2021

From around a corner, two little faces peer out. Eyes are bright, noses sniff inquisitively. Then out pour two lithe otters, like a rivulet of the water they love to play in. It’s Arista and Javin, two new Asian small-clawed otters who’ll debut this week in the Asian Forest Sanctuary of Point Defiance Zoo & … Continued

Jul 22, 2021

Zookeepers and the animals they love What’s the animal you feel most deeply inside? The one you connect with, love, relate to, share traits with? For National Zookeeper Week 2021, we asked our assistant curators that very same question. Then our incredible staff photographer Katie Cotterill took portraits of both keeper AND animal, superimposing them … Continued

Jul 19, 2021

What do you do if your 760-pound male muskox refuses to do what you ask him? Well, if you’re a zookeeper, you have other strategies in your pocket. For keeper Piper, who cares for muskoxen, clouded leopards and an elephant at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, it’s all in a day’s work. 7am Piper’s day … Continued

Jul 19, 2021

Two things make zookeeper life in the Asian Forest Sanctuary quite different from anywhere else at Point Defiance Zoo: lots of meat, and lots of doors. And in a typical day at work, keeper Sam handles both of them with ease – not to mention tigers, tapirs and porcupines. 7:30am In summer, Sam and her … Continued

Jul 16, 2021

It’s hard to describe the awe when you stand at the Baja Bay window in Point Defiance Zoo’s Pacific Seas Aquarium and watch spotted eagle rays swoop through blue water overhead. But Tyler, one of the zoo’s aquarists, gets an even more immersive experience: waist-deep in their 80-degree water, feeling velvety noses as they munch … Continued

Jul 16, 2021

Keeper Stephanie’s day involves quite a lot of fish – and shrimp, and clam, and squid. When you care for ten marine mammals and four flocks of seabirds in nine different pools, you do a lot of feeding – and cleaning too. But for keepers like Stephanie at Point Defiance Zoo’s Rocky Shores habitat, creativity … Continued

Jul 16, 2021

There are a lot of moving parts to being a zookeeper in the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – but training ambassador animals is a big one, says keeper Jessie. 7:30am A zookeeper’s day often begins with checking on animals, cleaning habitats and giving breakfast. The big difference at Wild … Continued

Jul 16, 2021

Summer sunlight dapples through Douglas firs. The air hums with insects, pierced by sharp raven calls. All else is quiet – and keeper Jamie climbs into the truck. Time to check up on 47 red wolves. 7:30am Most zookeepers don’t work all alone in a forest. Jamie, however, is a staff biologist for Point Defiance … Continued

Jul 14, 2021

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

Jul 13, 2021

Chef. Dietitian. Physical therapist. Hydrotherapist. Public speaker, cleaner, cricket-handler. When keeper Monica signed up to become a zookeeper, she knew it wouldn’t ever get boring – but caring for animals in Point Defiance Zoo’s Kids’ Zone took it to another level. 7:30am Kids’ Zone keeper days always start with a team meeting in the goat … Continued

Jul 12, 2021

Happy birthday, Kazu! On July 12, 2021, our tapir calf turns two – which means he’s definitely not a baby anymore. “Overall he’s turned into an adult,” says Telena Welsh, curator of Asian animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “And he’s really healthy.” At 686 pounds, Kazu doesn’t have long to go before he … Continued

Jul 12, 2021

Congratulations are in order for the Pacific Seas Aquarium team – a spotted eagle ray pup has been born in Baja Bay! A female, the little baby ray is doing fine and already eating solid foods, watched closely and cared for in a special behind-the-scenes Aquatic Animal Care Center (AACC) at Point Defiance Zoo & … Continued