It’s reopening time for both Zoos!

It’s reopening time for both Zoos!
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park will reopen June 18
following Washington’s Phase 2 Covid-19 guidelines
with timed online tickets and new, safe guest experiences

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park will reopen to the public June 18, with timed online tickets, limited capacity, safety protocols and new guest experiences designed to help guests connect with wildlife while staying safe and healthy. Both aquariums are also now open at the Zoo.

Both sister zoos will follow Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s guidelines for Phase 2 of reopening during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are delighted that Governor Inslee has approved the Zoo and Northwest Trek for reopening,” said Tim Reid, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “The Metro Parks mission is creating healthy opportunities to learn, play and grow, and the new safety measures and guest experiences at each zoo allow us to give our community the chance to recreate safely.”

Both aquariums at Point Defiance Zoo also opened July 1. The Pacific Seas Aquarium showcases marine animals from around the Pacific Ocean. In the massive Baja Bay habitat, 23-year-old green sea turtle Bruno recently joined green sea turtle siblings Sunny and Azul. Hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and warm-water fish glide serenely, recreating the feel of Baja California. In the Northwest Waters habitat, Puget Sound species like ratfish and rockfish swim around enormous pink plumose anemones. Nearby are Puget Sound king crabs and favorite fish like Buddy the California sheephead.

The South Pacific Aquarium is home to massive warm water sharks: nurse sharks, black-tip reef shark, sandbar and sand tiger sharks cruise around the deep blue Outer Reef habitat alongside a silvery school of crevalle jack. A myriad of tropical fish dart around the Lagoon and mesmerizing Blue Hole. There’s even a shy moray eel called Gordon.

“We know our guests have been missing our animals,” added Alan Varsik, director of Metro Parks’ Zoological & Environmental Education Division, who submitted the zoos’ detailed plan for safe reopening which Inslee approved last week. “And we’ve been missing our guests. Connecting people with wildlife and nature is even more important in these unprecedented times, and we are committed to that connection, while keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

TIMED ONLINE TICKETS, LIMITED CAPACITY

  • Both zoos will require timed online tickets for entry, including for members (though not for infants under 3 years). Front gate tickets are NOT available.
  • Visitors will be limited to 25% capacity at any one time, and prices are reduced.
  • At both zoos, tickets can be scanned at a no-touch front gate from a phone or printed copy.

MASKS, SANITIZER, SOCIAL DISTANCING, NO-TOUCH

  • At both zoos, masks are required for everyone 5 years and older, and all staff will wear them.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be readily available.
  • Social distancing will be encouraged via signs and marks on the ground.
  • Only credit/debit cards will be accepted for in-zoo purchases, no cash.
  • Guests and staff are encouraged to avoid touching surfaces, to prevent transmission, to follow respiratory etiquette and to stay home if they feel sick.

POINT DEFIANCE ZOO & AQUARIUM

  • The Zoo will be open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, with last entry at 4 p.m.
  • Timed online tickets are $18 for adults (13+), $14 for children (3-12) and free for members infants under 3.
  • Members also need a free timed online ticket.
  • Once inside, guests will walk around the Zoo in a one-way route that minimizes congestion.
  • The Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, goat feeding and grooming, Budgie Buddies, underwater viewing at Rocky Shores, the playground, gift shop, carousel and café will all be closed. All other exhibits remain open.
  • There is no presentation schedule. Instead, Keeper Chats and Animal Encounters will happen at unscheduled times daily, to avoid congestion.
  • Food gifts and water may be purchased at outdoor kiosks. No outside food is allowed except for dietary restrictions.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring water bottles. Refilling stations are open, but drinking fountains are closed.
  • Strollers, wheelchairs and other rentals are unavailable; guests should plan to bring their own if needed.
  • Programs, camps, Eye-to-Eye Shark Dives, weddings and private events are all temporarily canceled, as are public events through summer.

Both aquariums will follow the Zoo-wide measures, plus a few extra:

  • Guests will follow one-way paths through each aquarium.
  • Stingray Cove, the Tidal Touch Zone, the Home Sweet Ocean Home play area and all interactive digital stations are closed. In the South Pacific Aquarium, the tropical lagoon is viewable only from the upper deck.
  • Guests are encouraged to follow marks on the floor for social distancing.
  • Stanchions and signs will discourage touching of exhibit windows and other surfaces. Extra hand sanitizing stations will be in place. Restrooms with no-touch entry are open in the Pacific Seas Aquarium.
  • Doors in the South Pacific Aquarium (an older building) will be propped open to increase airflow. Doors in the newer Pacific Seas Aquarium will continue to operate with motion sensors.
  • Strollers and wheelchairs are allowed in both aquariums (no outside stroller parking). One family at a time is allowed in the South Pacific Aquarium elevator leading down to the Outer Reef.
  • The Pacific Seas Aquarium is fully ADA-accessible.
  • Aquarium staff dives, talks and feeds will happen at unscheduled times to prevent congestion. There are no Eye-to-Eye Shark Dives at this time.

NORTHWEST TREK WILDLIFE PARK

  • The park will be open 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily, with last entry at 4:30 p.m.
  • There are two ways to experience the park; guests can choose either or both.
  • New Wild Drive premier tours offer a self-drive tour around the Free-Roaming Area, a 435-acre habitat home to moose, bison, mountain goat and more. Guests drive their own vehicle in a caravan with staff cars in front and behind, with audio narration about the animals seen. Wild Drive tours are $70 members/$80 non-members, and may be reserved online.
  • The new Wild Walk is a one-way walking route around the core area of the park, including bears, canids, cats, wolverines, birds and other forest and wetland animals. The new Eagle Passage exhibit is included. Wild Walk timed online tickets are $12 for adults (13+), $10 for children (3-12) and free for infants under 3. Members are free, but need to obtain a timed online ticket.
  • The Cheney Discovery Center, Baker Cabin, Kids’ Trek playground, café and picnic pavilion will be closed.
  • Keeper Chats, field trips, education programs, weddings and private events are temporarily canceled, as are public events through the summer.
  • Food and water may be purchased at outdoor kiosks. No outside food is allowed except for dietary restrictions.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring water bottles. Refilling stations are open, but drinking fountains are closed.
  • Strollers, wheelchairs and other rentals are unavailable; guests should plan to bring their own if needed.

In addition, both zoos have implemented organizational and facility changes to follow state and CDC guidelines to keep everyone safe and healthy. These include the wearing of masks by all staff members, increased sanitation procedures, a no-touch front gate and restroom entry, plexiglass screens and no cash transactions, plus internal protocols for offices and animal care areas.

To learn more and reserve tickets, go to www.pdza.org/open  or www.nwtrek.org/open.

###

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare. As members of the Metro Parks Tacoma family, the zoos create a legacy of sustainability for future generations through education, conservation, research and recreational opportunities; they also embody Metro Parks’ mission of creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow.

Media Contacts
Whitney DalBalcon, 253-278-6343 or whitney.dalbalcon@pdza.org
Nancy Johnson, 253-226-4530 or nancyj@tacomaparks.com

Posted In: Uncategorized