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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? We Can Answer Them

Getting the whole herd to Zoo grounds takes some effort! Along the way, there’s some questions that often come up. If you don’t see yours here, feel free to send us an email at

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the field trip rate?

  • $11 each for students and chaperones.
  • One free teacher ticket for each classroom attending the field trip.
  • One free ticket for each 1:1 caregiver who is required to assist a student with a disability or behavioral issue.
  • One $5 group processing fee per order (NOT per ticket).

What criteria must be met to receive the field trip rate?

  • Must be a public/private school (Pre K – High School), college/university, or homeschool co-op.
  • Minimum of 12 paying students (If your school would be bringing fewer than 12 students, please reach out to to see if accommodations can be made.)
  • 1:5 chaperone ratio – One adult chaperone for every 5 students (pre-K through grade 12)
  • Tickets must be reserved and paid for at least 15 days in advance of the visit date

Are summer camps or childcare centers eligible for the field trip rate?

No, however non-school groups of 25 or more would be eligible for our group ticketing rate.

Still unsure if you are considered a field trip or group visit?

Please reach out to with more information about your group/organization and a team member will help direct you to the correct request form within 2-3 business days.

Are there scholarships available for field trips?

Yes. Thanks to support from The Zoo Society, limited funding is available each year to help support field trip opportunities for local students in need. Eligibility requirements are outlined on the Field Trips section of our website.

Can teachers serve as chaperones for our field trip?

Yes. To receive the field trip rate, your order must meet our required 1:5 ratio – 1 adult for every 5 children. If teachers will be overseeing assigned students during the trip, they can count toward meeting this ratio. If teachers will be floating between groups and not directly overseeing students, please make sure your order includes enough chaperones to meet the ratio.

What happens after I submit the online field trip request form?

You will receive an emailed quote within 2-3 business days. This reserves your spot for the date listed in the quote email. The quote email will also include information regarding the payment due date, payment options, and planning tips to help you have a successful field trip.

Do we have to pay in advance for our field trip?

Yes. Payment must be received in advance of your field trip to receive the field trip rate. If you reserve a field trip but do not make full payment in advance by the deadline provided in your quote email, your reservation may be cancelled. If you arrive on your visit date without finalizing and paying the order in advance, you will have to pay full price at-the-gate admission fees.

What options do we have to pay for our field trip?

Payment must be received/processed by the payment due date provided in your quote email, utilizing one of the following methods:

  • By credit card over the phone – call 253-404-3800
  • By Purchase Order – emailed to (PO must be itemized by ticket type and include the processing fee)
  • By school, PTA, business, or corporate check (personal checks are NOT accepted) – mailed and received by the payment due date to – Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Attn: Group Tickets 5400 N Pearl St Tacoma, WA 98407

What can we expect if we use a Purchase Order to make payment?

Once the Purchase Order is received (it must be itemized by ticket type and include the processing fee), our group reservations team will issue your tickets and send you an email confirming the order is considered completed and your field trip can proceed as planned.

The Metro Parks Tacoma finance team will process the PO and send a billing invoice that includes instructions for making final payment. Please follow the instructions on the final billing invoice to submit your payment.

What happens if our numbers increase after we have made our payment?

Additional tickets can be purchased at the front gate on the day of your visit. You will need to let the front gate staff know which school group you are visiting with to receive the field trip rate for those additional tickets.

What happens if some of the people in our group are unable to attend the field trip?

Tickets are non-refundable, but can be used for a day-time visit on another date. You are welcome to provide the un-used tickets to those who were unable to attend, and they can use them to come on another day. Tickets are valid for up to one year from the date of your field trip (which is listed on the ticket).

What happens if we need to change the date for our field trip?

If your entire group will need to visit on a different date for any reason, please contact PDZA Group Reservations at or 253-404-3800, with as much advance notice as possible. We will do our best to work with you to find an alternate date within the parameters of our available field trip/group capacity at the time you contact us regarding the change.

Can we pre-pay for only the students and have all chaperones pay at the gate?

No. Your order must contain the minimum number of chaperone tickets to meet the requirement of 1 adult for every 5 children to receive the field trip rate. You may pre-pay for the minimum chaperones required and then have additional chaperones pay at the gate day-of if you prefer, but you cannot cover only the students in your pre-paid order.

What if we have children in our group who are covered under a zoo membership? Are they free?

Zoo memberships cannot be used for a student visiting the zoo on a scheduled school field trip.

If an adult/parent named on a membership is attending the field trip, they may choose to check-in using the normal member check in process for their admission. Please be aware this may slow down entry, or be logistically challenging, for your field trip group.

Does our field trip include a guided tour of the zoo?

No. Our field trips are self-guided by the group’s teachers and chaperones. We encourage you and your chaperones to review our website and plan ahead for the day: Zoo Experience – Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (

Is there a place for us to store our lunches?

Yes. We have cubbies available behind the gift shop, near the group entrance. They are first-come, first-served and are not refrigerated. If you would like to secure the cubby, you are welcome to bring your own lock.

Do you have a scavenger hunt or any activities we can provide to our students?

We do not have any pre-set activities for zoo field trips, but additional teacher resources can be found here: Teacher Resources for schools and learning at Point Defiance Zoo (