The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) is a combined zoo and aquarium located in Tacoma, Washington, US, owned by Metro Parks Tacoma. Situated on 29 acres (12 ha) in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park, the zoo and aquarium are home to over 9,000 specimens representing 367 animal species. The zoo was founded in 1905; the aquarium was founded in 1935 near Commencement Bay and relocated within the zoo in 1963. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Zoo was founded in 1905, and moved closer to its current location in 1914. The Point Defiance Park Aquarium opened on the waterfront in 1936 as an entity separate from the zoo. By the late 1940s, several Zoo buildings were in disrepair and had to be rebuilt. The 36-year-old animal house was demolished and a new one with sandstone walls and 3/4-inch-thick viewing windows was built in its place. It housed some big cats and white-cheeked gibbons. In the 1960s, the Point Defiance Park Aquarium had been incorporated into the Zoo. A new aquarium, now known as the North Pacific Aquarium, was built on Zoo grounds in 1963. By the end of the decade, a breeding program was begun for red wolves, which had been declared an endangered species in 1967.
The exhibits reflect the zoo's theme of ecosystems from the Pacific rim: Southeast Asia, the Pacific Northwest, the tundra, and aquatic environments.
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.
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.
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.