Yesterday my sister and I took to drive up to Tacoma with the girls to visit the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The weather was absolutely beautiful in the high 60s and sunny. Going to the zoo has always been one of my favorite summer activities, and I’m really glad that girls enjoy it too. If you live near Tacoma and haven’t taken a trip to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium you should definitely add this to your summer bucket list.
At Point Defiance, you will find elephants, tigers, walrus, penguins, polar bears, gibbons, and more. They also have an amazing red wolf habitat and not one, but two aquariums where you can get hands-on experiences with stingrays, tidal touch zones, and shark dives. We actually didn’t make it to the arctic tundra or rocky shores areas this visit because the girls got tired, so we missed quite a few of the animals, but we will catch them next time. You can find a full list of the animals, here.
Point Defiance Zoo is one of the most toddler and baby friendly zoos I have been to. The entire park is handicap accessible and stroller friendly. They have an amazing Kid’s Zone with slides, a jungle gym, and goat feeding. This is the area you will also find wallaby, lemurs, meerkats, and different reptiles and amphibians. They also have tons of grass areas throughout the zoo that you can picnic on, take a break, and let your kids run free. Many areas of the zoo are interactive, so you aren’t just seeing the animals, but getting and experience and learning as well.
Red Wolf Conservation
One of my favorite things about Point Defiance Zoo is how much work they do with conservation. especially their work with red wolves. By the 1970s, only 14 red wolves remained of the once populous species. In 1980, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the red wolf biologically extinct in the wild. Thanks to the cooperative effort of 42 U.S. zoos and wildlife centers and the Fish & Wildlife Service there are approximately 261 adults and juveniles at the cooperating facilities, including 35 pups born so far during this breeding season.
One of the wolves, Charlotte, gave birth to a litter of eight on May 10. According to the site, all of the pups are doing well so far and living in their den behind the scenes. You can read more about the pups, here.
When you plan your visit make sure to catch the keep talk at 2pm or you may not get to see the wolves since they have a beautiful exhibit that offers them a ton of privacy.
Pacific Seas Aquarium
One of the newest additions to the park is the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Here you can explore Pacific Coast habitats from cold Northwest waters to tropical Baja California.
In Baja Bay we got to stare eye-to-eye with a green sea turtle as hammerhead sharks and eagle rays swam overhead in with dozens of other tropical fish in the 280,000-gallon warm-water exhibit.
The water in the aquarium is pumped straight up from Puget Sound, filtered and warmed through a complex web of pipes. Then, after it washes nutrients over the animals, it’s treated and flows back into the Sound so there is no pollution and no waste.
Next, we walked down the ramp to see the Pacific herring, Japanese giant spider crab and jellies. They also have a giant octopus but we seemed to have missed it.
The moon jelly globe was the girls’ favorite because they were able to interact with it. It is a globe in the middle of the jellyfish room that is spilling endlessly with water as moon jellyfish swirl and float inside. It’s one of only two jelly globes in the country and a must-see.
The tidal touch zone is a really fun hands-on experience touching the same tidal creatures you’d find in Puget Sound. Loxley was a bit too young for this experience, but Finley loved sticking her hand in the water and feeling all the hard shells (she tried to avoid touching anything squishy).
The entire room is backed by a giant wall map of the Sound, which I thought was really cool.
The Pacific Seas aquarium is another place in the Point Defiance Zoo that does a great job spreading information about conservation. Many of the animals in the aquarium are threatened in the wild. Interactive screens are placed throughout the aquarium that displays mini quizzes and facts about the oceans and animals and our impact on them.
The zoo has keeper talks and aquarium feedings daily, as well as different events throughout the year. Once a month they do a garden tour where you tour the zoo with a horticulturalist and learn about the different plants.
Have you been to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium? If so, what is your favorite part?