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Happy 30th Anniversary, Zoolights!

It’s the 30th anniversary of this beloved holiday tradition at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium .


Tacoma, Wash. – It’s definitely not the same Zoolights that it was in 1988.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has gone from around 55,000 lights and a handful of displays to a Zoo-wide holiday celebration that will this year top 700,000 energy-efficient LEDs.

Joining old favorites will be dazzling new displays themed around the sharks, rays and sea turtles of the Pacific Seas Aquarium – plus some special surprises.

Zoolights begins Nov. 23 and runs through Jan. 6. Hours are 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. nightly, except for a one-night closure on Dec. 24. Zoolights is open on both the Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 holidays.

Tickets go on sale next month at for this longest-running and most-loved holiday lights extravaganza in the region. Discounted tickets are just $10 per person when purchased online. Regular general admission is $12 at the gate.

The new Pacific Seas Aquarium will not be open during Zoolights hours, but guests who want to see it and enjoy Zoolights during the same visit can buy a Day/Night Combo Pass at the zoo’s Front Gate. The passes, ranging from $17 to $25 depending on age and place of residence, are a great deal. They allow for a daylong visit to the zoo plus Zoolights after dark.

From their first steps inside, Zoo guests will be immersed in a sea of lights. Local landmarks like the towering 23-foot-high Mt. Rainier and two Narrows Bridges, a sprawling 100-foot pink-and-orange octopus, a giant crab with moving pincers and several 8-foot-long sea turtles will be among the familiar favorites, along with whimsical animal scenes like sledding penguins, ice skating puffins, a walrus family and a trio of polar bears.

It’s not only underwater animals that are spread in lights throughout the Zoo. Guests can:
• Spot leaping leopards, hopping frogs and swinging siamangs.
• Laugh at a tiger cub chasing a butterfly.
• Take a selfie with the blue-and-green 12th Man Seahawks tree, or the brilliant purple Flame Tree.
• See who’s awake in the Asian Forest Sanctuary dayroom – a tiger? A tapir?
• Bask in the steamy warmth of the South Pacific Aquarium, home to sharks, rays and tropical fish.
• Grab a hot cocoa or other treat at the Plaza Café or stations around the Zoo.
• Feed a goat or meet a mob of meerkats.
• Take a spin on the vintage carousel, with animal rides from tiger to slug.
• Ride a camel – and get a fantastic photo.

Zoolights is presented by Fred Meyer.

For more information, go to


Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Northwest’s only combined zoo and aquarium, practices and promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s resources through education, conservation, research and recreational opportunities. The zoo, a division of Metro Parks Tacoma, is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA).

Media Contacts

Kris Sherman, 253-226-6718 or
Whitney DalBalcon, 253-404-3637; 253-278-6343 or