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Elephant Yoga and Apple Slices

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 21, 2020

animals

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Sep 21, 2020

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 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

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 54th 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

aquarium

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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 10, 2020

Everyone knows shark teeth, right? Those big slathering daggers in scary movies? Uh, no. At least, there’s a lot more to shark teeth than the pop culture stereotypes. Some sharks are enormous – but have the tiniest teeth! Many sharks have different teeth in front compared to the back of their mouths, depending on what … Continued

Aug 07, 2020

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is currently home to nine species of sharks. They live among sea turtles, eagle rays and dozens of fish. The aquarists in both the Pacific Seas Aquarium and the South Pacific Aquarium have a unique way of feeding the sharks to ensure each one receives the food it needs to … Continued

Jun 30, 2020

It’s time for sharks! And green sea turtles, eagle rays and jellies too. The Pacific Seas Aquarium and South Pacific Aquarium are reopening July 1 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new protocols to keep guests safe and healthy. Oh, and guests will get to meet Bruno the green sea turtle, too. “Our aquarium … Continued

May 06, 2019

UPDATE: Now over. Thanks for visiting! Q: Where in the world would you find an elephant, a sea turtle and an axolotl all together? A: In Species in the Sand, the new sand sculpture this summer at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Beginning mid-May, our sculpting team led by Tacoma native Sue McGrew will return … Continued

Apr 17, 2019

UPDATE: May 1, 2019 We did it! We made 3,600 paper turtles, glueing them onto ten blue silk “waves” to create a cascading spiral of ocean beauty in the Pacific Seas Aquarium. And we raised $10,068 for ocean conservation, thanks to the Ocean Art Challenge sponsored by the Bezos Family Foundation, and all the hundreds … Continued

Jan 30, 2019

As part of our Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration this April, we’re filling every Friday with art! Join our talented Pacific Seas Aquarium artists each Friday to meet them, find out how they make things and then make some art of your own! On the final Friday, we join with hundreds of others all around … Continued

Oct 04, 2018

It’s more than just a play of light. Wander down the ramps of the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, and you’ll pass through shimmers of colored light. You’re immersed in their play and flicker, as if swimming through a sunlit lagoon. It’s art – the light installation “Shimmer,” by California artist Gordon Huether – but 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

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 54th birthday – which makes him the oldest siamang on record in human care … 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

conservation

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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

Aug 04, 2020

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 30, 2020

It’s a warm summer evening, and you’re out for a twilight walk. Suddenly, you spot a pair of bright eyes in the undergrowth. You freeze. A coyote steps out into the silence, bushy-tailed, followed by – yes! – three young pups. Quick as lightning, you whip out your phone and snap a photo. Alerted, they … Continued

Jul 27, 2020

Kali basks, sleepy in the sun. Her golden eyes are half-lidded, her orange-and-black stripes glossy. She’s the picture of tiger health, and gets the best care and enrichment humans can devise. But in the wild, other tigers aren’t so protected. Over 100 are killed every year for their fur and other body parts. Others are … Continued

people

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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

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

Jul 21, 2020

National Zookeeper Week takes place July 19-25 this year. The week is devoted to sharing the passion and dedication of keepers. Even though Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was temporarily closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19, the keepers never took a pause. They are a dedicated group of people who work … Continued

Jul 17, 2020

July 18 is Global Women’s Dive Day, and we’re so proud of our women diver-aquarists here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Marine biologists who each have countless dive hours here inside our Pacific Seas Aquarium (PSA) and South Pacific Aquarium (SPA), as well as around the world, these ladies lead their fields in animal … Continued

plants

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Jun 22, 2020

Tomatoes. Apples. Almonds. Pumpkin. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. All pretty important, right? And they all have one thing in common: they need pollinators. Around 1,000 plants that humans use for food, drink, fiber, spices or medicine need to be pollinated by a very special group of animals called pollinators. Bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, bats and … Continued

Feb 06, 2020

They communicate with each other. Send out pheromones when stressed. Adapt to the environment. Care for their children. Live in community. Breathe. No, we’re not talking animals here, or humans. We’re talking trees – those giants who include the oldest, heaviest and tallest living beings on the planet, and about whom science is constantly making … Continued

Jan 24, 2020

When animals are endangered, they often make headlines: koalas, elephants, rhinos. But there are hundreds of endangered species that animals depend on every day for food, shelter, clean air, water or the right temperature – plants. Humans also depend on plants for survival. But when they’re endangered, do we think about it? Bryon Jones does. … Continued

Sep 25, 2019

Agaves with shark teeth. Trees that poke you. Carnivorous plants. If you think the plant world is all about pretty flowers, it’s time to think again – and time for the Zoo’s annual Savage Garden tour. No, not the band. The actual Zoo garden, which is full of poky, skeletal and otherwise Halloween-themed plants – … Continued

zoolights

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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. “We are thrilled to continue the longstanding tradition of … Continued