Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Metro Parks Tacoma owns the PDZA or Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which is the Pacific Northwest’s only attached aquarium and zoo. It is situated in Washington, Tacoma. The zoo and aquarium, which are located on 12 ha or 29 acres in Defiance Park on Tacoma’s Point, house nearly 367 different animals and 9000 specimens. The zoo opened in 1905, and the aquarium opened in 1935 near Commencement Bay, before being relocated to the zoo in late 1963. The Association of Aquariums and Zoos has granted them both accreditation. The most popular tourist attraction in Washington’s Pierce County is claimed to be this. Every year, over 600,000 people visit.


The red wolf is one of the zoo’s conservation priorities. The zoo began collecting wild red wolves in 1969 and successfully bred them for the first time in 1977. By 1980, the US Fish and Wildlife Service had removed the remaining fourteen wolves from the wild, and the AZA had given the zoo permission to begin a Species Survival Plan in 1984. By 1987, the number of red wolves in captivity had grown to the point that some of them might be released back into the wild. Reintroduced wolves have survived and reproduced in the wild, with a global population of 175 in captivity and roughly 100 in the wild in 2002. Coyote-wolf hybridization is one of the most serious dangers to the natural population.

A six-year-old female tiger was tragically stabbed by her two-year-old probable mate in a 2021 effort to breed endangered Sumatran tigers. Given that there are only about 400 Sumatran tigers alive in the wild, this was an attempt to rescue the endangered species.


The beautiful Zoo was established in 1905, and it is relocated to its new address in 1914. The famous Point Defiance Park Aquarium, which is distinct from the zoo, was first established on the riverfront in 1936.

Several Zoo buildings had fallen into disrepair in 1940. The old animal home of 36 years was dismantled, and an excellent building was created with 3/4-inch thick windows and sandstone walls. It was home to several large cats as well as white gibbons with fluffy cheeks.

The Aquarium was included with the Zoo in the 1960s. In 1963, a new aquarium was erected on Zoo grounds, which is currently known as the Pacific Aquarium of North. With the inauguration of the Pacific Seas Aquarium in 2018, the Pacific Aquarium of North was closed.

A breeding effort for an endangered species known as red wolves, in 1967, was started before the end of the decade.

In 1970, turn-of-the-century cages began decaying once more. The Zoo started the famous Arctic Tundra complex in early 1981 along with the Rocky Shores section in 1982 after a $7 million bond measure was enacted in 1977. The Pacific Aquarium in the south was developed and completed in 1989 after a lesser bond was passed in 1986.

In the 1990s, the Zoo ran into financial difficulties, which led to the suspension of the AZA certification in 1999.

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