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Zoo News

Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Apr 20, 2021

If Dr. Karen Wolf needs another skilled set of hands for a walrus procedure, she knows who to call. And if Dr. Allison Case has a beaver or owl that needs attention while she’s out of town, she has a second clinic just a van-trip away. The two women are head veterinarians of Point Defiance … Continued

Feb 17, 2021

At the elephant habitat at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Shannon and Russell are doing something usually reserved for zoo visitors, not keepers. Side by side, phones held aloft, they’re taking photos of Suki, the zoo’s 56-year-old Asian elephant. Their angles are different: Shannon, assistant curator, is at least a foot shorter than Russell, staff … Continued

Feb 16, 2021

Dr. Karen Wolf, left, and Dr. Caitlin Hadfield prepare Sekiu for surgery. NOTE: Graphic visual content further down the post. On a cold winter’s morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Animal Health Care, head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf did an unusual thing during surgery: She put a fresh ice pack on her patient’s chest. … Continued

Feb 05, 2021

It started with a low whoop at middle C. Then another. Then some higher hoots, descending to meet the whoop in a unison. The whoop and the hoots repeated, faster and faster, a rainforest percussion. A brief silence hung, like a poised raindrop. Then it began again – and from across the path came an … Continued

Dec 28, 2020

What a year this has been! From clouded leopard AI to a new muskox calf, from Zoolights to HeroRATs and everything in between, we’ve captured this year in our best photos of 2020.  

Dec 28, 2020

Everyone agrees: 2020 was a really tough year. Covid-19 turned our world upside down, and many of us knew loss. Our Zoo/Northwest Trek had to close for months, and reopen with completely new ways of doing everything. Like so many, we lost money, and had to say goodbye to many staff members. We lost beloved … Continued

Dec 10, 2020

They were rescued together as orphaned calves. Then they went to live at separate zoos for seven years before reuniting as “teenagers” here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Now, Pacific walruses Mitik and Pakak are moving out to the exciting world of a walrus harem to be with – and hopefully breed with – … Continued

Dec 02, 2020

Zoo youth volunteers love orcas. Orcas love raingardens. And gardens are outside. Put them all together and you have the perfect recipe for volunteering outside, staying safe during Covid-19 and helping save our southern resident orcas into the bargain. This October, youth volunteers from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium teamed up with local nonprofit groups … Continued

Nov 30, 2020

The bright side of a virtual field trip? You don’t get wet. It was raining hard at Northwest Trek one November morning as Wildlife Champions instructor Megan Soland peered into a video camera. Fellow instructor Liz Hines held an umbrella over her, getting soaked herself, and in front was keeper Wendi Mello, dripping wet but … Continued

Nov 24, 2020

Over 700,000 LED lights, new Kraken display, indoor areas closed, buy tickets in advance. The longstanding community tradition of Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium begins this Friday, Nov. 27. The Zoo has transformed into a colorful winter wonderland- with more than 700,000 LED lights now strung across trees, shrubs, pathways and displays. Health … Continued

Nov 17, 2020

Missing travel? While the coronavirus pandemic has made global vacations more dream than reality, Puget Sound-area folks have an option right on their doorstep: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where you can surround yourself with plants and animals from around the Pacific Rim. Tigers in lush Asian bamboo, South American rainforest reptiles, Australian amphibians and … Continued

Oct 29, 2020

King Julien has nothing on Queen Tiffany. On a sunny fall morning, the small black-and-white ruffed lemur is reclining on a grassy hummock in her Kids’ Zone habitat at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, propped on one arm and looking like a very furry Roman emperor. Or rather, empress. Because lemurs are matriarchal, and while … Continued

Oct 28, 2020

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 bear Blizzard, has worked for years with the non-profit Polar Bears International (PBI) to tell the … Continued

Oct 22, 2020

Inflammatory bowel disease is no fun. Diarrhea, vomiting, unpleasant gut sensations, even pain or fever. But if you’re an American red wolf, there are worse implications: That inflammation in your intestines might cause you to lose weight, get stressed and maybe even fail to reproduce. For an endangered species with less than 300 like you … Continued

Oct 20, 2020

Always wanted to go to Zoobilee? Now, everyone can – because The Zoo Society’s fabulous fundraising party is returning this year, transformed into an online event on Nov. 13. It’s absolutely free, complete with Zoom cocktails, livestreamed auction and virtual animal appearances. A 27-year Tacoma tradition, Zoobilee evolved to bring together leaders and philanthropists to … Continued

Oct 19, 2020

Tickets are now on sale for Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the holiday decorating has begun! The longstanding community tradition will have health at the top of mind this year, to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Zoolights begins Nov. 27 and runs through Jan. 3. Hours are 5 p.m. – 9 … Continued

Oct 13, 2020

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week Oct. 11-17, and we’re celebrating our wonderful veterinary technicians with a virtual thank-you card. Keepers, curators and veterinarians all weighed in to thank our superhero vet techs Julie Lemon and Sara Dunleavy for all they do to care for animals and help staff: prepping for procedures, monitoring animal vitals and … Continued

Oct 08, 2020

Once upon a time there were two wolf species: red wolves and gray wolves. Neither of them were “big and bad,” but they were often feared by humans. Over time, more and more were killed. By 1940 gray wolves were decimated in the American wild and by the 1970s, so were red wolves. It was … Continued

Oct 06, 2020

Visit the Zoo before the crowds arrive, feed an unusual hero, groom a goat, dive with sharks or go behind-the-scenes of the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is expanding its Zoo for You exclusive animal experiences with two new premier adventures. In addition to grooming goats, diving with sharks and a behind-the-scenes … Continued

Oct 06, 2020

It’s true – bats have a bad rap. They’re best buddies with Dracula and have a cameo in “Macbeth.” They inspire spooky Halloween decorations. And if we’re not careful, we ourselves could become “batty.” They can carry viruses, including (most notably) the coronavirus that spread to humans from wildlife markets as Covid-19. But then there’s … Continued

Oct 02, 2020

Animals, Costumes and Fun at Point Defiance Zoo & Northwest Trek  It’s time to have some spooky fun while staying safe at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Both zoos are getting in the fall spirit, with pumpkin enrichment for animals and costumes encouraged for everyone in October! Whether you want … Continued

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. BUY ZOOLIGHTS TICKETS “We are thrilled to continue the … 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 53rd 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 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