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Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Set to Reopen

Pierce County animal parks will reopen June 18 with new procedures in place

Published on: June 11, 2020

clouded leopard Tien against the glass with visitor looking point defiance zoo and aquarium
Photo:
Tien the clouded leopard at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Credit: John Froschauer

Popular Pierce County animal parks Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park have announced they'll reopen Thursday, June 18. South Sound-area families looking for an outing can soon visit their favorite critters at the two parks.

Regular visitors will note some major changes in procedures at the zoos. For starters, visitors must book timed-entry tickets in advance. You won't be able to walk up to the gate. Members must also book advance tickets, but they're free. Tickets are on sale now.

New procedures in place at Point Defiance Zoo include:

  • Visitors over age 2 are asked to wear masks.
  • Families can visit animals in a one-way walking route, marked by arrows, and must stay six feet away from other visitors.
  • Indoor spaces, including the aquariums, are closed.
  • Bring your own water bottle as drinking fountains are closed.
  • Bring your own strollers and wheelchairs; rentals are closed.
  • Food and drinks are available at kiosks; no outside food is allowed (except for those with dietary restrictions).
  • Plan to pay for any purchases with a card; no cash will be accepted.
  • Use the Mildred Street entrance to the zoo and wait in your car until 5 minutes before your entry time.
  • Remember to book your tickets in advance.
  • Admission tickets cost $18 for ages 13 and up; $14 for ages 3-12; ages 2 and under are free (and do not need a timed-entry ticket.) Members are free, but still must book timed-entry tickets.
point defiance zoo and aquarium reopening walking tour one way visit
PDZA visitors follow the one-way walking route. Credit: Katie Cotterill

New procedures in place at Northwest Trek include:

  • Visitors over age 2 are asked to wear masks.
  • Families can visit animals along a one-way walking route called the Wild Walk, and must stay six feet away from other visitors.
  • The Kids’ Trek playground, zip tours, Cheney Discovery Center, Baker Cabin, Forest Cafe, picnic pavilion, trams and other trails remain closed.
  • Bring your own water bottle as drinking fountains are closed.
  • Bring your own strollers and wheelchairs; rentals are closed.
  • Food and drinks are available at kiosks; no outside food is allowed (except for those with dietary restrictions).
  • Plan to pay for food or any purchases with a card; no cash will be accepted.
  • Northwest Trek continues to offer its Wild Drive Tours where visitors drive their private vehicles through the free-roaming area.
  • For either a Wild Walk visit or a Wild Drive (or both!), book your tickets in advance.
  • Admission tickets for the on-foot Wild Walk experience cost $12 for ages 13 and up; $10 for ages 3-12; ages 2 and under are free (and do not need a timed-entry ticket.) Members are free, but still must book timed-entry tickets.

Restrooms are open at both parks. Visitor capacity is limited and all staff will be wearing masks and performing frequent cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces.

What to see

Now that we're through all the need-to-know details, here are few highlights to look forward to on your visit.

A new muskox calf was just born at Point Defiance Zoo and she's (he's?) a cutie. The calf and mom Charlotte are on view in the grassy tundra area, but also have a private space so spotting them isn't guaranteed.

muskox calf born at pdza credit katie cotterrill
Muskox calf born at PDZA. Credit: Katie Cotterill

At Northwest Trek, the Wild Walk tour includes stopping by to see bear bros Huckleberry and Hawthorne, who are kid favorites.

Also at Northwest Trek, the Wild Walk tour takes you through the new Eagle Passage exhibit where visitors can have a close-up experience with majestic eagles.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is located inside Tacoma's Point Defiance Park. Northwest Trek is located in Eatonville, Wash., about an hour south of Tacoma.

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