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Woman and child wearing masks in front of zoo

(Photo/Katie Cotterill, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium)

Point Defiance Zoo reopening; here’s what you need to know

Aquariums at Point Defiance now are open, too; and there's a new way to see NW Trek.

Update, July 15: The zoo’s Pacific Seas and South Pacific aquariums now have opened, too. Details on that here. And Northwest Trek has added Wild Walk, a one-way path for safely seeing the park’s animals on foot. Also, dates into August have been added for the popular Wild Drive attraction.


Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are reopening Thursday, June 18, but some things will be different as Washington state gradually reopens after widespread shutdowns and stay-home orders to fight spread of the coronavirus.

The zoo in Tacoma and the wildlife park in Eatonville, operated by Metro Parks Tacoma, will offer outdoor-only experiences. Guests will follow one-directional pathways to see their favorite animals and wildlife habitats.

Also, timed tickets, purchased in advance online, will be required for all guests (including members) to control capacity. Walk-up tickets will not be available. Tickets should be stored on a phone or printed at home and will be scanned at a no-touch front gate. Tickets are going on sale at noon Wednesday, June 10. (Point Defiance Zoo tickets. Northwest Trek tickets.)

Restrooms will be open, but other indoor facilities will not. High-touch amenities and experiences will not be available. Food and gifts will be sold from outdoor kiosks (credit card only; no cash). No animal presentations or talks are scheduled, but they will happen at unscheduled times daily, to prevent congestion. Staff will be wearing masks, and guests are encouraged to as well. Find full details on reopening logistics and precautions at the website of the zoo and of Northwest Trek.

Northwest Trek will continue to offer the Wild Drive tours it started last month, in which families drive through the park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area and see bison, mountain goats and other native Northwest animals.

“We are delighted to reopen our doors and welcome our community back to Point Defiance Zoo and Northwest Trek,” said Tim Reid, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners.

(For a slightly further afield animal experience, Olympic Game Farm in Sequim also is open.)

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.