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2019 Press Releases

2019 Releases

Explore the ocean in virtual reality at the Zoo

Dec. 23, 2019: Stay dry while exploring our oceans underwater with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s new virtual reality experience in the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Guests can choose to swim with humpbacks, come face to fin with sharks or even go in a mini-submarine.

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sarah oliver
New deputy director Sarah Oliver brings passion for people

Dec. 3, 2019: The Olympia, Washington native with a career in nonprofit leadership is bringing her people-focused expertise to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as its new deputy director.

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two walruses on pool deck
Two orphaned walruses reunite at the Zoo

Nov. 15, 2019: They were rescued as orphans in the same week. And now, after seven years, they’ll be together again. Young male walruses Mitik and Pakak have arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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walrus training basa kuluFarewell, walruses Basa and Kulu

Oct. 1, 2019: Our lady walruses Kulusiq and Basilla are leaving for SeaWorld San Diego, and we’re giving them two weekends of farewell: Oct. 5-6 and 12-13.

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Hanako the elephant
Two elephants test positive for tuberculosis

Nov. 13, 2019: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s two elderly elephants, Hanako and Suki, have tested positive for tuberculosis, zoo officials announced today.

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elephant trunk
Safety stepped up as staff test positive for latent tuberculosis

Sept. 25, 2019: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium leaders are taking extra steps to ensure the health and safety of their staff, visitors and animals after some staff members who work with and around elephants tested positive for latent tuberculosis infection. There is no risk to the public, and no known active cases.

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carved ivory
Toss the Tusk and help protect wildlife

Sept. 25, 2019: Have any ivory carvings tucked away? A shark fin souvenir? Thanks to the Washington Animal Trafficking Act, those wildlife products are now illegal to sell in Washington state. Hand them over at Toss the Tusk from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.

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Burrowing owl in pumpkin
Whoo-hoo – it’s time for Zoo Boo!

Sept. 23, 2019: Break out the costumes and candy! Parents, kids, animals and zoo staff all love Zoo Boo (Oct. 12-13), the annual fall-themed celebration at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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Bald eagle for Veterans Day WeekendFree admission for veterans on Veterans’ Appreciation Days

Sept. 17: U.S. military veterans are invited to enjoy the splendor of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and the wonder of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at no charge on Nov. 9, 10 and 11. Veterans’ immediate family members will receive half-off general admission at each zoo.

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zoolights howling wolfIt’s a Baby Animal Zoolights this year!

Sept. 17, 2019: It’s been a big year for baby animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and now they’re coming to Zoolights! An LED tapir mom and calf, tamandua pup, beaver kit and eight red wolf pups will join the annual holiday lights display, brightening the Zoo and delighting guests with over 700,000 lights.

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Polar bear swimming with ball for End of Summer blast
Chill out at End of Summer Blast this weekend

Aug. 29, 2019: Polar bears, tigers, elephants and more will chill out with icy treats and other enrichments during the End of Summer Blast at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium over Labor Day Weekend – along with a baby Malayan tapir, making his debut.

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tapir calf
Kazu the tapir calf makes his debut Aug. 30-Sept. 2

Aug. 29, 2019: Trotting over green grass. Swimming. A brand-new, exciting world for Kazu the tapir calf is in store this weekend at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, as the seven-week-old makes his public debut Aug. 30-Sept. 2, the perfect family treat for Labor Day Weekend.

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tapir calf face


Name the tapir calf at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Aug. 21, 2019: He’s thriving, growing and exploring the pool: The endangered Malayan tapir calf born July 12 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is nearly ready to meet his adoring fans. But first, he needs a name.

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tamandua pupBaby tamandua is born at the Zoo

Aug. 20, 2019: A boy? A girl? We won’t know for a while, but the Southern tamandua pup born Sunday night at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – the first in the zoo’s history – is a very welcome addition to the family.

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beaver kit butternut in grass
Butternut the baby beaver makes her debut

Aug. 6, 2019: Butternut, the beaver kit born in May at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, will make her public debut in Close Encounters near the zoo’s Discovery Hut at 2 p.m. Aug. 10 & 11– but she’ll have mom Nutmeg and dad Walnut there to keep her company as she meets her adoring fans.

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zoo booze and bites posterTime for spirited fun at Zoo BOOze& Bites

July 30, 2019: Zoo BOOze & Bites returns Friday Oct. 18 from 6-9 p.m. for a pre-Halloween party like no other. Tastings and bites from local breweries and chefs, a DJ, silent auction, fabulous raffle prize and costumes, all in the amazing setting of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium right by the new red wolf pups.

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tapir calfHealthy, nursing and curious: Tapir calf’s first exam

July 16: He’s healthy, weighs around 25 pounds and follows Mom everywhere. The Malayan tapir calf born July 12 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has just received his first wellness exam, and he appears to be in perfect health, says Dr. Karen Wolf, head veterinarian.

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tapir calf
Endangered Malayan tapir calf born at Point Defiance Zoo

July 15: It’s a boy! An endangered Malayan tapir calf was born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Friday night. He is the first tapir calf born at the zoo in its 114-year history.

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sand sculpture shark

Endangered species, sculpted in new sand sculpture

June 17: An elephant, tiger, anoa, green sea turtle, scalloped hammerhead shark and more have been slowly carved out of sand in “Species in the Sand,” a sand sculpture on the Zoo’s grassy lawn that kicked off mid-May and will last all summer.

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red wolf pup face close

Red wolf pups get their names and wander outside

June 12: They’ve got their legs under them now. And venturing out a bit, even learning how to climb the steps into their root cellar den.Now, the eight endangered red wolf pups born May 10 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are ready for their names.

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rocky shores walrus wave

Joan, beloved Pacific walrus, dies at Point Defiance Zoo

May 30: Pacific walrus Joan died today at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium following a decline in her health over the past several weeks. She was 24.

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penguin chick hatch wing

Two rare penguin chicks hatch

May 30, 2019: Peck. Peck. Peck. A tiny beak hammers away from the inside of an egg shell. It’s a rare Magellanic penguin, which along with its sibling hatched out on video, just in time for World Ocean Weekend.

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red wolf pup in hand

Name our red wolf pups

May 22, 2019: Our eight new red wolf pups need names, and we’re asking the public to vote in an online survey for two slates of names chosen by Zoo staff: one of place names, the other of trees in the wolves’ ancestral habitat in North Carolina.

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beaver kit in hand

We have a new beaver kit!

May 14, 2019: First there was Walnut, a male beaver living at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Then came Nutmeg, a female beaver who came to Tacoma from Northwest Trek Wildlife Park as a companion for Walnut. And now baby makes three.

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red wolf pups

Red wolf pups now total eight

May 13, 2019: What appeared at first to be a littler of four rare red wolf pups on Friday afternoon became a squirming mass of eight healthy newborns over the weekend. Red wolf mom Charlotte whelped the pups during about a 12-hour period between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning.

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red wolf and pups
Happy Mothers’ Day! Four red wolf pups born at Point Defiance Zoo

May 10, 2019: Four apparently healthy red wolf pups were born Friday afternoon at the Zoo, part of a breeding program to ensure the survival of this critically endangered species. All four, plus mom Charlotte and dad Hyde, are doing well.

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duckling two keepers
Zookeepers rescue three stranded ducklings from a storm drain

May 10, 2019: When Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Senior Staff Biologist Marc Duncan heard the small noises coming from the depths of a storm drain at about 4:15 p.m. today, he instantly knew there were ducklings in trouble and swung into action – just in time for Mothers’ Day.

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mom and girl in Tidal Touch Zone
Moms get half-off general admission May 11

April 30, 2019: There’s a lot new to see and “zoo” at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and there’s no better time for a family outing than Saturday May 11, when all mothers will receive half-off general admission.

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sensory bag

Zoo, Northwest Trek certified as “sensory-inclusive”

April 10, 2019: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium each recently earned prestigious designation as “sensory inclusive” sites from a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness, acceptance and inclusion for people with autism and other special needs.

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Annie Crawley at sea
Ocean Voices speaker series brings story, science, inspiration

Mar. 11, 2019: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium brings ocean story, science and inspiration to venues around Tacoma every Tuesday during April in an Ocean Voices speaker series highlighting scientists, filmmakers and environmentalists who work to protect the ocean.

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turtle wave concept art

“Turtle Wave” community art to help save the ocean

Mar. 11, 2019: Make and see “Turtle Wave,” a community artwork being created at Metro Parks Tacoma facilities and elsewhere in the community over the next few weeks, with a grand finale scheduled April 26-28 inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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Keeper tour Jeep with moose
Daily openings coming March 1, plus Northwest Trek tours

Feb. 13, 2019: Daily openings are coming soon to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Plus, the popular premier Keeper Adventure Tours will soon resume at Northwest Trek, and an all-new Photo Tour program for youths is nearly ready for its debut.

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Faces in Baja Bay aquarium
Community invited to Pacific Seas Aquarium Celebration

Feb. 12, 2019: Sea turtles. Art-making. Scientists. For the entire month of April, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will celebrate its new Pacific Seas Aquarium, home to green sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and hundreds of other sea creatures. And the zoo is inviting the whole community to join in.

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Father and son with hammerhead at Baja Bay

Attendance records smashed in 2018 at Zoo and Northwest Trek

Jan. 8, 2019: In 2018, 820,776 guests walked through the turnstiles during 2018, the largest such total in Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s 113-year history. Coupled with the 222,294 guests who visited Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, that added up to over 1 million visitors for the sister zoos.

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Outer loop Five Mile Drive and Northwest Trek closed due to wind damage

Jan. 6, 2019: The Outer Loop of Five Mile Drive in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park will be closed all day today due to trees that fell during last night’s fierce windstorm. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Eatonville will be closed all day today due to a wind-related power outage.

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Moea the sea otter

Rescued Southern sea otter Moea makes her debut

Jan. 3, 2019: A 10-year-old Southern sea otter who was rescued and rehabilitated at Monterey Bay Aquarium has joined the “raft” of sea otters at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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2018 Releases

2017 Releases

2016 Releases

2015 Releases