As another year ends, we reflect on the special moments Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium had the privilege of being a part of in 2023. We welcomed polar bear sisters Laerke and Astra to the Pacific Northwest, explored the shore with our community, and muskox Charlotte gave birth to Willow, among so many other moments. Enjoy some of our favorite photos from this year, taken by staff photographer Katie Cotterill.
Astra shakes off in her pool.
Laerke submerges in the water while taking a swim.
Laerke plays with a guest in the underwater viewing area.
Laerke scratches her nose while taking a dip.
Willow headbutts her mom, Charlotte, while enjoying breakfast.
Five pufflings hatched this year. Here, mama Ricky collects fish to carry up to her puffling who had not fledged yet.
Hundreds of children attended zoo camps throughout the year, learning about a variety of animals and their habitats, including marine life in Puget Sound.
A young guest wonders where the goat food in his hand went during a Groovy Goats experience.
Sumatran tiger Sanjiv yawns during his debut at Point Defiance Zoo.
Bald eagle Tahoma blinks her extra eyelid (a nictitating membrane) during a close encounter.
A swallowtail butterfly on an Alstromeria plant.
The sea turtles enjoy an enrichment with bell peppers.
More than 1,000 community members participated in low-tide beach-walks, led by trained naturalists, and discovered octopuses, sea stars and other wildlife on our shoreline.
Gibbon Aries hops on the back of lowland anoa Baby Bean.
Assistant Curator Sheriden interacts with walrus Balzak (pronounced bell’-zik) during a training session.
Aquarists get splashed while catching a whitetip reef shark during a health exam.
Ruby V the turkey vulture during a rainy training session.
A great blue heron flies over the zoo in October.
Operations team member Joe sets up Zoolights within the trees in October.
Sumatran tiger Sanjiv peeks out from behind a tree.
Red wolf Juno in the autumn sun. Twelve healthy American red wolf pups were born at Point Defiance Zoo’s off-site breeding facility this year.
A pollinator buzzes along the flowers in the Nature Play Garden.
Muskox Charlotte has a mid-day snack.
Suki celebrated her 59th birthday this year!
Eastern box turtle Mover takes in the surroundings at a close encounter at Critter Corner.
Siamang Remy looks up at partner Dudlee.
Veterinary staff take care of siamang Dudlee during an exam.
Assistant Curator Marc cares for an Australian whipray during a health exam.
A guest gets an up-close look at the sea lions.