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animals

Dec 21, 2021

What a year this has been! Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium provided a home and second chance to a rescued sea lion named Björn, celebrated the births of a Southern three-banded armadillo pup and a Southern tamandua pup, among so many other moments. Thanks for being here on this journey with us. Enjoy our best … Continued

Dec 20, 2021

Blizzard the polar bear celebrated his birthday at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with all his favorite things: cake, a tree, a big barrel and more than 2,000 pounds of ice. At 26, Blizzard is a senior bear and each birthday is a special one. The median life expectancy for polar bears is about 23 … Continued

Dec 16, 2021

A four-month-old clouded leopard cub named Rakhan (pronounced Rah-kaan) recently arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The cub joins the zoo on a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan®. “Clouded leopards are highly endangered, and cubs like Rakhan help keep zoo populations healthy and genetically diverse,” said Telena Welsh, the zoo’s curator of Asian … Continued

Dec 07, 2021

PUPDATE Jan. 11: At 1.5 pounds, Segway has more than quadrupled her weight in two months. The growing pup is doing well and continues to be with Vespa behind the scenes. December 7: The one-month-old Southern three-banded armadillo pup at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now has a name – Segway! “Born to parents Vespa … Continued

Nov 16, 2021

UPDATE: 12/7/2021: The pup has a name! Keepers named the pup “Segway.” Read more here. Southern three-banded armadillos Vespa and Scooter welcomed a female pup into the world in late October, making them both first-time parents. The pup is the first healthy armadillo pup born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in its 116-year history. … Continued

Oct 12, 2021

Black cats, pumpkins, ghosts… skulls and skeletons. They’re all symbols of the Halloween season. We asked Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s head veterinarian, Dr. Karen Wolf, to give us an “inside” look at a few of the Zoo’s animals and their not-so-spooky skeletons. Dr. Wolf regularly takes radiographs or X-rays of the animals to check … Continued

Oct 04, 2021

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff are mourning the loss of Kirana, a female  Sumatran tiger who died this morning after experiencing severe injuries during a breeding introduction as part of a plan to help save her endangered species. Six-year-old Kirana sustained life-threatening injuries from Raja, the zoo’s two-year-old male Sumatran tiger. A necropsy, or … Continued

Sep 29, 2021

UPDATE December 2021: Our veterinarians have been working with veterinary oncologists and Blizzard’s care team to provide the best possible care for Blizzard. The senior polar bear is receiving oral chemotherapy and his care team is closely monitoring him. We hope to slow the progression of cancer and keep Blizzard comfortable. September 2021: Blizzard, a … Continued

Sep 27, 2021

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 some would say, but Cindy doesn’t mind. On this drizzly day, it’s her responsibility to keep a close eye on the horned puffling (puffin chick) … Continued

Sep 20, 2021

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

Aug 27, 2021

What’s the best way to take your first swim? Well, if you’re a hand-reared penguin chick, you find a penguin buddy. On a hot day in August, penguin chick Rio had his first swim session in a behind-the-scenes pool at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and his buddy was big sister penguin Maxine … Continued

Aug 16, 2021

On an overcast morning, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s jelly team readies their boat and heads out into Puget Sound to a cove between Vashon and Maury Islands. The goal: collecting moon jellies. Moon jellies are plentiful in the waters around the Pacific Northwest and the jelly team will try to collect up to 100 … Continued

Aug 16, 2021

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is inviting the community to help name the new female giant Pacific octopus inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium. The zoo’s aquarists have chosen six names and are asking the public to vote for their favorite. Those names are: Gertie: referring to the Tacoma legend that the largest octopus in the … Continued

Aug 13, 2021

As a powerful heat wave hits the greater Tacoma area with temperatures nearing 100-degrees, keepers at both Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash. and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, Wash. are finding ways to keep the animals cool. At Point Defiance Zoo, 2-month-old penguin chick Rio is just learning how to swim … Continued

Aug 11, 2021

Whenever Friday the 13th rolls around, even the least superstitious of us might look askance at a black cat or shiver at an owl hoot. But animal superstitions, although fun, can cause pretty bad luck for the wildlife who cross their paths. After all, we live in a world where 350,000 tourists can visit Scotland … Continued

Jul 27, 2021

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out … Continued

Jul 26, 2021

From around a corner, two little faces peer out. Eyes are bright, noses sniff inquisitively. Then out pour two lithe otters, like a rivulet of the water they love to play in. It’s Arista and Javin, two new Asian small-clawed otters who’ll debut this week in the Asian Forest Sanctuary of Point Defiance Zoo & … Continued

Jul 14, 2021

If the tiger is the king of the jungle, then the anoa would be the gardener. They’re not iconic like an elephant, or acrobatic like a siamang. They don’t star in Pixar movies or cartoons. Even in the jungle, they can be impossible to find. But this tiniest species of buffalo just 30 inches tall … Continued

Jul 12, 2021

Happy birthday, Kazu! On July 12, 2021, our tapir calf turns two – which means he’s definitely not a baby anymore. “Overall he’s turned into an adult,” says Telena Welsh, curator of Asian animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “And he’s really healthy.” At 686 pounds, Kazu doesn’t have long to go before he … Continued

Jul 12, 2021

Congratulations are in order for the Pacific Seas Aquarium team – a spotted eagle ray pup has been born in Baja Bay! A female, the little baby ray is doing fine and already eating solid foods, watched closely and cared for in a special behind-the-scenes Aquatic Animal Care Center (AACC) at Point Defiance Zoo & … Continued

Jul 01, 2021

A gentle sea lion, rescued after being blinded by bullets, arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in May and will make his public debut July 3-4 at the Rocky Shores habitat. The male sea lion, named Björn (pronounced bee-yorn) and estimated to be about 10 years old, was rescued off the coast of southern … Continued

Jun 28, 2021

So you think you like seafood? How about 1,064 pounds of it every week? That’s what’s on order at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where everyone from sharks to sea stars has their favorite ocean-based food. Two aquariums, the entire Rocky Shores habitat and even animals in Kids Zone all need seafood for their daily … Continued

Jun 24, 2021

Welcome, Raja! A new endangered Sumatran tiger made his public debut June 19-20 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and although he is named after the Indonesian word for king, the 2-year-old tiger is actually pretty laid-back. “Raja is a laid-back cat who loves to roll around in the grass and closely observe the … Continued

Jun 02, 2021

The Zoo is now home to a 4-month-old opossum baby, known as a joey. The joey, named Ernie by keepers, was found in Burien, after his mother was killed by a dog. Without his mother, Ernie would’ve likely been killed as well by a predator like a coyote, fox, owl, snake or hawk. The rescued … Continued

Jun 01, 2021

June 3, 2021 update: Sadly, one of the chicks passed away on June 2. Veterinary staff are caring for the second chick, providing syringe feedings, extra fluids and antibiotics. The chick seems to be doing a little better. June 1, 2021: Two Magellanic penguin chicks hatched at the Zoo in late May to parents Red … Continued

Apr 29, 2021

It’s penguin nesting season at the Zoo! As of late April, keepers had observed four eggs laid. The eggs are from two penguin pairs, with two eggs each. Each year, keepers prepare Penguin Point for nesting season, adding long grasses for the Magellanic penguins to build their nests. Both parents take turns laying on the … Continued

Apr 29, 2021

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is observed each year on April 30 as a way to raise awareness for thousands of pets that are waiting for their “fur-ever” home. Pets of varying sizes, color, temperaments and breed are waiting to meet their future families right now at your local shelter. Many of the domestic … Continued

Apr 29, 2021

July 9 pup-date: Liana, the nearly 3-month-old tamandua pup, will make her public debut at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this weekend, July 10 and July 11. She will participate in Training Demos at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater with her mom, Terra, at 2:30pm on those dates. In her first few weeks of life, … Continued

Apr 01, 2021

Endangered Sumatran tiger Indah will make her public debut at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Friday, April 2, at noon. It’s a homecoming for the female tiger, one of three cubs born at the Tacoma zoo over six years ago. “It’s heartwarming to welcome her home to Tacoma and see her all grown up,” … Continued

Feb 26, 2021

It wasn’t your average concert situation. Fingers chilling in the February breeze, I stood with my double bass poised on the grassy edge of a deep moat. My endpin and boots were planted in winter mud. Somewhere nearby, a bird sang. I drew my bow across the strings, beginning a low ripple and expanding out … Continued