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The pandemic has reminded us about the importance of connecting with family, friends and loved ones. For the holidays this year, consider gifting those close to you something to experience together at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Each of these experiences has health protocols in mind, so you can ensure you’re gifting both a safe and fun way to get out of the house during uncertain times.


This is the gift that keeps on giving… for an entire year! Share the excitement of discovering animals with a Zoo membership or double the fun with a combo membership that grants unlimited admission to both the Zoo and our sister zoo, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Memberships not only get you in the door, but also get you discounts and perks all year long!

Cost: Memberships start at $90 and go up from there depending on the level you’d like to gift. Sign up here. 

parrot and person
Send a custom animal shoutout to family or friends

Holiday Animal Shoutouts 

Share a special holiday message with a wild touch. Animal Shoutouts are a fantastic way of sending a customized video greeting to a friend or loved one-complete with their favorite animal! Hear one of our zookeepers speak your message alongside a sloth, seal or other adorable animal.

Cost: $50 per Animal Shoutout. Purchase a shoutout here. 


Give a magical evening of holiday wonder with tickets to Zoolights! Your loved ones can explore seas of dazzling lights, be inspired by all-new animal displays and warm up with tasty treats. Zoolights runs from Nov. 27-Jan. 3, with a two night closure on Dec. 24-25.

Cost: Ranges from $5.50-$14. Purchase tickets here.

couple looks at zoolights
Gift an evening of holiday wonder with Zoolights

Groovy Goats

Who doesn’t love a spa day! In this 30-minute behind-the-scenes encounter, give the Zoo’s goats Button, Buckle, Sugar and Spice among others the ultimate spa experience. Brush them, pat them, scratch their ears and watch them soak up all the attention! Zoo educators will teach guests all about how to interact with goats and what they like to eat and do. Guests will also get to hand-feed the goats their favorite pellets.

two boys and mom groovy goats
Give the Zoo’s goats the ultimate spa experience

Who: 5 and up (children must have accompanying adult). This private experience is for up to 5 people of the same household.

When: 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on days the Zoo is open.

OR! Make this a holiday-themed gift and pair it with Zoolights! For this special holiday encounter, the goats will wear festive costumes! When: every day at 4:30pm just before Zoolights opens.

Cost: $100 per member group/ $150 per non-member group. Includes admission to the Zoo. Purchase here.

Wild Zoo Tour

Mornings at the Zoo are a special time: you can see the sunrise over Puget Sound and in the quiet hours before guests arrive, you may hear the siamangs singing (listen for their duets of booms, barks and hoots), the walruses whistling and the wolves howling. The keepers are busy feeding breakfast to the animals and transitioning them from their overnight bedrooms to their outdoor habitats. Guests have a chance to enjoy those intimate early morning hours at the Zoo. Over 1.5 hours, visit selected areas of the Zoo with a knowledgeable guide, without the crowds. This unique experience culminates with a special one-on-one surprise animal encounter at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater.

Who: All ages. This tour is for up to 5 people per program. Participants can either be individuals or a household group. Bookings will be sold either/or- we will not mix individuals with households.

When: On days when the Zoo is open!

Cost: Individual per person: $75 member/ $100 non-member. OR Household with up to 5 people: $300 member / $400 non-member. Prices include Zoo admission. Purchase here.

Heroes of Unusual Size

Have an animal lover in your life or someone who loves superheroes? Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is offering Heroes of Unusual Size-an opportunity for guests to learn how to train a surprising hero: HeroRATs! Also known as African giant pouched rats, HeroRATs are trained to detect landmines and tuberculosis.

Around 60 of the world’s countries are contaminated with landmines left over from war, and injuries are severe and often deadly. HeroRATs have helped clear over 100,000 landmines, making land safe for people to live, work and play. The other way the HeroRATs save lives is by detecting tuberculosis, checking 100 samples in just 20 minutes where a lab technician would take days. It’s a lifesaver, literally, for many African communities.

hero rat experience
Guests help train HeroRATs

Zoo guests have a chance to not only meet these heroes, but to help them in a training exercise. During a 30-minute close encounter, guests can hide a spice ball and see exactly how they use their super senses to find it, and give them a special treat to reward these hard-working heroes.

Who: All ages (children must have an accompanying adult). This private experience is for up to 5 people of the same household.

When: 1 p.m. on Sundays

Cost: $100 member/ $150 non-members per household. Includes Zoo admission for up to 5 people. Purchase here.

Eye-to-Eye Shark Dives

Adventure level: extreme! In this 60-minute experience, guests will get up close to more than a dozen massive sharks while learning about their biology and how we can protect them in the wild. The dive experts in the South Pacific Aquarium will teach guests the basics of breathing surface-supplied air, then guide you into a sturdy underwater cage in the 225,000-gallon warm water shark exhibit. No experience necessary! You’ll have all the bragging rights after completing this epic underwater adventure.

Who: Ages 8 and up (children must have an accompanying adult). This private experience is for up to 4 people of the same household.

When: Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays

Cost: $210 per member group/ $255 non-member group. Includes admission to the Zoo. Purchase here.

shark dive
Go underwater and get up close to sharks!

Adopt an Animal

“Adopt” a Zoo animal to help support animal care, wildlife conservation and the Zoo’s educational programs. Each adoption gift comes with a stuffed animal, adoption certificate, animal fact sheet and photo.

Cost: $50. Purchase here.

Northwest Trek Experiences

Give the gift of wild this holiday season with an experience at our sister zoo, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Just an hour from Tacoma, the park offers you the chance to see native Northwest wildlife: bison, moose, elk, mountain goat and more in our Free-Roaming Area, plus cougar, grizzly bear, lynx and other forest animals on the walking trails.

On a Keeper Adventure Tour get off the tram tour roads and into the adventure of a lifetime. Ride a Jeep, meet a keeper and get up close and personal with animals!

jeep near rams
Go on an off-road Keeper Adventure Tour at Northwest Trek

On a Wild Drive stay in the comfort of your own car and drive along the tram tour roads past mountain goats, bison, Roosevelt elk, caribou (related to reindeer!) and more.

Discover Northwest Trek here.

Enhanced Safety Protocols

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is following all public health and safety guidelines for Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan. Hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the park. Face coverings are required for anyone 5 and over. Online timed tickets are required.