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Reconnecting with wildlife and nature at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers a variety of activities for children. Photo credit: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

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Blizzard, an Arctic Tundra polar bear, is waiting to meet you.  Born in 1995, and soon after orphaned, he now lives at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA) in Tacoma.

Nearby, red wolves thrive in safety due to the PDZA's work in helping to restore their population after years of hunting depleted their numbers.

Rakhan, a clouded leopard cub, will be watching too. He is part of the zoo's species survival plan that researches this treetop loving cat.

Plus, a 35,000-square foot aquarium provides an underwater view of hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, jellyfish, a giant Pacific octopus and lots of colorful fish.

"There are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature and wildlife," said Tessa Miller, media relations & communications director for PDZA.

Located at 5400 N Pearl St. in Tacoma, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest. The 29-acre zoological park sits within the 700-acre Point Defiance Park.

In strengthening the connection between humans and nature, PDZA presents the following schedule of summer events:

Nature Play Garden Opening, April 1-3: Designed for children between the ages of three to five, the garden encourages curiosity and discovery, like stepping stones for hopping and logs to crawl through.

Garden Tour: Backyard Pollinators, April 3 and July 3: Learn how to attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies at the zoo's pollinator garden and receive tips from the zoo's horticulturalist.

Bugs Alive! May 7: Visit the Nature Play Garden for close encounters with small animals and insects. Learn the roles bugs play in our daily lives.

City Nature Challenge, April 29-May 8: Join naturalists from Northwest Trek, Woodland Park Zoo, and the PDZA in finding and documenting as much wildlife as you can!

Garden Tour: Living Fossils, May 1: Ferns, mosses, cycads and gingkoes all have one thing in common - they've been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Learn more about these prehistoric plants!

Wild Wonders & Budgies Opening, May 7-8: Learn from zoo keepers at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater and view animals like a sloth, king vulture, tamandua, aardvark, or seriema in action. For more fun, step into the Budgie Buddies aviary and be surrounded by a flock of colorful little Australian birds.

Garden Tour: Deserts & Baja, June 5: Learn more about the plants that have adapted to dry landscapes like that of Baja California - and how they help us save water.

Explore the Shore, June 17, July 15 and Aug. 12:  Walk Owen Beach at low tide in Point Defiance Park with zoo naturalists, who will help you identify crabs, shellfish, anemones and more.

Pride Celebration, June 25-26: Celebrate Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community through a series of events designed to celebrate the diversity of life.

World Tiger Weekend, July 30-31: Watch as the zoo's four tigers enjoy whipped cream, melons and meat shanks!

Garden Tour: Plants Gone Wild, Aug. 7: Set forth on a tour of vibrant, leafy plants that inspire a sense of the jungle or a tropical paradise.

End of Summer Blast, Sept. 3-5: Splashing, ice treats and fun events help children - and adults - mark the end of summer with a blast!

"The opportunities to connect with nature and wildlife are here for all," concluded Miller.

For more information about Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium concerning all events and special features, visit

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