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Puffins

Did you know?

Fratercula cirrhata/corniculata

Note: With the arrival of bird flu in Washington, we’ve moved our Puffins and Murres to a covered area off-exhibit to keep them safe and healthy.

We have two kinds of puffins! Tufted puffins have the classic tuft of hair on the back of their heads, while you can spot the curvy black “horn” of feathers over a horned puffin’s eyes during summer. You can also find murres – another kind of seabird.

Discover Seabirds

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Horned puffins live in coastal Japan, Russia, British Columbia and Alaska. Tufted puffins live from Alaska to California and northern Asia; murres on the Pacific and Atlantic. Find them all at Rocky Shores.
Rocky Shores
Meet the Keepers
(Getting wet is part of the job.)
Did you know that otters sleep wrapped up in kelp? That seals can waddle on land as well as swim? Our keepers give chats daily. Bring all your questions!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie

Meet our seabirds

Horned puffin
Tufted puffin
Common murre
Eating
(and predators!)
Puffins dive to find saltwater fish, squid and crustaceans, holding their breath for up to two minutes and carrying around 10 fish in their beak at a time.
They use their raspy tongue to hold the fish against a spiny palate. Puffins are hunted by sharks, Arctic foxes and large birds.
Just one egg
(but two doting parents)
Tufted puffins nest in burrows, horned puffins in rocky crevices. Females lay one egg per year, which both parents take turns incubating.
After the chick has hatched it stays in the nest while mom and dad take turns bringing food.
Drinking sea water
and wrestling intruders.
With waterproof feathers and the ability to drink sea water, puffins can live on the open ocean for long periods. They gather in big colonies to breed.
They defend their nests by spreading their wings, stomping their feet and sometimes wrestling the intruder.

Protecting seabirds

Don't take my dinner.

THE THREAT: Puffins are not a threatened species, but some are declining as they face threats of oil spills, ocean pollution and overfishing of the small fish that make up their diet.

TAKE ACTION: Protect all sea animals by speaking out against off-shore oil drilling, choosing sustainable seafood and reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Marine Stories

Penguin Nesting Season

It’s penguin nesting season at the Zoo! As of late April, keepers had observed three eggs laid from penguin pairs Yellow & Orange (1 egg) and Pink & Red (2 … Continued

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Pufflings Are Here!

On a rainy, late-summer morning in Tacoma, keeper Cindy is watching the puffins. She’s drenched, but that’s just part of the job she loves. The “unglamorous” part of keeper life … Continued

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Celebrating Sea Otters

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 … Continued

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Who's nearby?
Love our puffins? Then find our penguins! They live in a completely different part of the world – and a different part of the Zoo, over by Budgies.