Treat your family to a special day at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Where else can you see seahorses and sharks, peacocks and penguins, wolves and walrus, all in one place? The 29-acre Zoo is large enough to offer an awesome array of animals yet small enough to let you get really close to them. Our keepers often roam the grounds, taking animals on strolls so you can see them up close. Who knows? You might run into a lynx on your way to see the polar bears! Be sure to visit Kids Zone. This fanciful exhibit engages children in active learning through play. The focus is on fun, movement and learning what animals need to thrive.The breathtaking views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains are free – and so is the parking. So what are you waiting for? Bring your family to see ours. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is open at 9:30 a.m. daily. Closing times vary. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is just minutes off of I-5 in beautiful Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, WA.
Asian Forest Sanctuary
This 5 acre (2.0 ha) exhibit complex which opened on July 1, 2004 simulates the forests of southeast Asia with a waterfall, streams, and plants native to the region such as bamboo. The complex is designed so that species are rotated to different parts of the exhibit after several days. Asian Forest Sanctuary includes Sumatran tigers, Malayan tigers, northern white-cheeked gibbons, siamangs, lowland anoas, Indian crested porcupines, Asian small-clawed otters, and Asian elephants.
An expansion called Cats of the Canopy opened on August 27, 2011 and focuses on the clouded leopard. Viewing is provided by a wide glass window along a gravelly stream bed and into a heated den. The twenty-foot high enclosure also allows the cats to climb through the trees.
Completed in 1982, this exhibit is based on the shoreline of Cape Flattery, Washington and serves as home to harbor seals, Pacific walruses, sea otters, common murres and tufted puffins in four separate pools. In the middle of the exhibit area is a building for underwater viewing. The exhibit formerly contained beluga whales until they were taken to a zoo in Texas in 2007.
1981 saw the opening of this exhibit area, which forms a semicircle at one end of the zoo. Muskoxen and reindeer are housed in separate meadows on the outside of the pathway’s arc, while polar bears and Arctic foxes live on the inside of the arc. The polar bears have an eleven-foot-deep pool with above- and underwater viewing.
The North Pacific Aquarium and South Pacific Aquarium each house species from different parts of the Pacific ocean. The North Pacific Aquarium, opened in 1963, displays species from the nearby Puget Sound such as rockfish, bay pipefish, and the giant Pacific octopus. The 1989-era South Pacific Aquarium simulates tropical Pacific environments, with two coral reef tanks and a lagoon exhibit. The lagoon has small fish and eels, while the 250,000-gallon (950,000-l) Outer Reef tank has nurse sharks, blacktip reef sharks, and four other shark species.
Red Wolf Woods
The habitat was rebuilt in 2009 and opened again in the summer of 2010. The exhibit consists of two separate meadows with a rocky creek, hollow log, and other landscaping. The conservation center is designed to look like an abandoned farm building.
A number of animals are present including African pygmy goats, black-breasted leaf turtles, giant African millipedes, gopher snakes, green-crested basilisks, guinea pigs, sheep, Nigerian dwarf goats, northern pygmy owls, ocellated rays, Parma wallabies, poison dart frogs, rabbits, rats, and tiger rat snakes. There are also play structures and a petting zoo.
Animal Avenue, a children’s zoo expansion, includes meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, black and white ruffed lemurs, black lemurs, Damaraland mole rats, Antilles pink-toed tree spiders, emerald tree boas, green tree pythons, western Bell’s hinge-back tortoises, pancake tortoises, ornate horned frogs, White’s tree frogs, hourglass tree frogs, long-legged desert ants, emperor scorpions, Madagascar hissing cockroachs, African cichlids and budgies.
Some reviews from TripAdvisor
Better than Woodland Park Zoo!
Hands down Point Defiance is better than Woodland park. You see way more animals! Its a small easily walk-able zoo with a large variety of animals. The Animals here seem to never be hiding and are always out! They have Shark cage diving by appointment! It cost $80 i think and worth every penny!! You do not need to be certified!
My only negative is the restaurant and food areas are always packed. Long long lines. So eat before you go!
During Christmas time they do Zoo lights! lots of Xmas lights everywhere!
I highly recommend going here!
This zoo is on the smaller side. Which is great! It is easy to navigate and well worth the money spent. There is a large variety of animals and easy viewing. Plus it is just in a beautiful location. Gift shop staff was very nice too and good location.
Nice little zoo and aquarium.
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium isn’t a very big zoo, yet it is very nicely done. The exhibits allowed you to be up close and personal with many of the animals…especially the walruses and sharks. My wife loved the plants and flowers from around the world that they have. The size of the zoo allowed our two year old grandson to literally walk ( and run) the entire time. He loved it. The only reason that I didn’t rate Point Defiance as “excellent” is the entrance fee…it was a little pricey. Thanks for the fun afternoon.
My favorite zoom in the world
I used to live across the street from this zoo and I went to the zoo almost every afternoon. It isn’t the biggest zoo or the zoo with the best habitat, but it is a perfect zoo for kids and for those who want to see interesting animals. They have a wonderful ocean exhibit, with excellent jellyfish. They have a wide variety of animals, including howler monkeys that howl every night when the sun goes down. The zoo is in the most beautiful park – where you can have tea, walk by the sound, see Gig Harbor bridge, take a long bike ride, or just hang out when there is sun.
What a delightful spot along the South Sound! The zoo is just the perfect size for children! Not too big and enough room for multi interests. Food is available along the paths. I go here monthly with grandchildren!
The cleanest and best zoo I have visited.
Although they have the usual variety of animals the conservation efforts are five star. They’ve been instrumental in introducing the Redwolf back into the wild and maintain breeding programs for penguins and other mammals. The landscapers excellent and the view of the animals that are confined is without peer. The grounds are kept clean and animal talks or given one every half hour at different spots. There is a large Kidzone providing plenty of opportunity for kids to stretch their legs, view snakes meerkats and insects along with contact with more domesticated species such as goats. Admission is reasonable.
We will be going back
It was a good day! Lots to see and different varieties of animals. There was quite a bit of walking between animals, however. It was also very wooded, and shaded. So bring a light jacket for all, even in the summer! We plan to go back next summer. Great, reasonable pricing as well.
Visit the sharks and the polar bears
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is an amazing place. We loved watching the sharks through the glass wall and enjoyed the feeding of the polar bear. Some arrange to go swimming with the sharks. They are continually updating the zoo to include shows, talks, and interactive displays. It’s a great place for families and adults as well. We live in Tacoma so they have special free days for residents.
Great zoo, will be visiting frequently this summer
This was our first visit to this zoo and it by far outstrips the nearby Woodland Park zoo. We will be making the trek down to this one every time.
They are doing some construction currently (two new buildings) but most of the zoo is still accessible to the public. The animal exhibits are spacious and well appointed. I can’t speak to the seasonal facilities (food stands and such) as most weren’t open during our visit but there seemed to be a nice variety scattered throughout the zoo.
Later this spring they will be debuting a new stage show that looks like it will be a good time.
Little Round About
Little zoo but laid out nicely. We saw the aquarium nice little area to see and touch ocean animals. There was an area to feed goats, and all along the path there were animals to be seen. They are building new areas so be prepared for construction noise. The tigers were cool, but Dozer the walrus was a hit! They just opened a public viewing area underwater and he just loves interacting with the kids!
Very nice setting, food not that great, so pack one in.
Once all the construction is over we are definitely going back to check out all the new attractions.
Fun zoo with lots for the kids to do
This zoo is nice, not as big as the one in Seattle, but has a lot of animals to see and lots of the kids to do. My kids love to see the sharks in the aquarium as well as all the land animals. Tigers, elephants, red wolves and well as walrus and penguins. Has a nice play area for the kids as well as the Outdoor Theater if you can catch a show at the right time. Camel rides, feeding the budgies (birds) and the merry-go-round are also hits.
Go during Zoolights and see the zoo at night all lit up with Christmas lights for a fun outing.
Love taking grandkids and great grandkids to the zoo
When my granddaughter and her family come to town we make sure a visit to the zoo is included. A beautiful sunny day and the tigers were out enjoying the sunshine. You can purchase a ride on a camel. A ride on the carousel is a must. Become a zoo member and you receive a discount. Got a double stroller for the kidos to make their time enjoyable. There is a bit of walking to do. There are ramps for strollers and wheelchairs. I am never disappointed when we have a zoo day.
We go every time we are in town
We love to go to Point Defiance Zoo. We go there every time we are in the Tacoma area. The polar bears are a highlight as well as the monkeys. The kids really love it. Lots of Pokemon if you play Pokemon Go.
Wonderful Zoo and Aquarium
They have beautiful exhibits, grounds, and animals. The zoo and aquarium are well kept. We loved seeing the red wolves and the plethora of fish in the aquarium. There was an area where you could pet sharks and skates/rays, which was a ton of fun. Exhibits aside, many humming birds, sparrows, junco’s, and other small animals call the large tree’s and plants in the zoo their home. We greatly enjoyed watching them while walking around!
Note there is quite a bit of construction going on right now. They’re building a new aquarium area and updating another area, so at least 1/4 of the exhibits are inaccessible right now. Still worth the trip though!
Directions from Point Defiance Zoom & Aquarium
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