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Art at the Zoo

Murals. Glass sculpture. Bronze animals, light installations. We don’t just have animals here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – we also have world-class art.

Stop by or take a virtual tour.

From Sculpture to shimmer

E.T. the Walrus
Remembering a friend.

For 33 years, E.T. the Pacific walrus was a Tacoma icon, winning hearts with his famous flipper wave and endearing vocalizations.
Now, after his passing in 2015, Tacoma gets its beloved walrus back – in a bronze sculpture welcoming visitors at the front gate.

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Sally the Sea Turtle
Ambassador for a species.

Sally swims along the sandy ocean floor in a seagrass bed. The life-sized bronze sea turtle sculpture is a lasting tribute to its human donors and all sea turtle species. The sculpture, created by Ed Kroupa, a Tacoma artist and owner of Two Ravens Studio, can be found about halfway down the main path from the plaza to the Pacific Seas Aquarium- across from The Zoo Society kiosk.

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The Family
A symbol of community.

“The Family,” a bronze sculpture by Clare Shaver, isn’t just a visual symbol of the families that visit our Zoo. It’s also a symbol of community, paid for by local organizations and individuals in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Revolution.

Just Settling In
Sculpting an endangered species.

Nestled low in the Red Wolf Woods visitor center, “Just Settling In” by sculptor Dale Weiler captures a red wolf with pup, framed in wood just like the real den that has seen so many endangered red wolf pups born here at the Zoo. Touch and explore.

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Dub Dub
The seal of history.

Dub Dub the seal was the Zoo’s most popular resident back in the 1960s when the new North Pacific Aquarium was built to replacing the aging one on the waterfront. Dub Dub’s bronze statue now sits near his former home.

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Salish Nettles
Kait Rhoads' glass jellies.

Ask Seattle glass artist Kait Rhoads about her passion and she’ll say the ocean. Passionate about marine life and conservation, Rhoads created “Salish Nettles” for the new Pacific Seas Aquarium – three giant jellyfish made of woven glass hexagons.

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Where the Land Meets the Sea
Maria Jost paints Puget Sound.

For the Tidal Touch Zone in the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, local artist and science teacher Maria Jost painted Puget Sound itself. From separate images of the Sound’s tidal creatures painted in delicate watercolor, she made a mesmerizing digital collage.

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Shimmer and Shoal
Gordon Huether plays with light.

“Shimmer” recreates the play of light on water in a rainbow of color on the walls and floor. “Shoal” reflects light off hundreds of metal fish swimming along the ceiling. Find both installations in the Pacific Seas Aquarium.

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Underwater life
Connecting humans and ocean

The mural facing the otter window in the Rocky Shores underwater viewing area was part of the 2017 renovation to that habitat. Painted by Puyallup artist Bob Henry, it plunges viewers into the greenish-gold Puget Sound landscape that’s right outside the Zoo’s back door.

Beloved Ivan
Local gorilla, local art.

Ivan. Famous, beloved, known around the country. The western lowland gorilla who grew up with a local family, lived in a shopping center and ultimately found a home at Zoo Atlanta is now honored in a sculpture outside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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