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

Both sister zoos will follow all public health and safety guidelines for Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

“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.

Reid said zoo and Northwest Trek leaders have spent weeks planning and revamping the guest experiences to safeguard people and animals.

“Ensuring the safety of our guests, staff and the animals in our care has been and will continue to be our number one priority,” Reid said. 

 

“We know our guests have been missing our animals,” added Alan Varsik, director of Metro Parks’ Zoological & Environmental Education Division. “And we’ve been missing our guests. Connecting people with wildlife and nature is more important than ever in these difficult times, and we are committed to nurturing those connections, while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

“Our dedicated staff have been tirelessly ensuring the continuation of quality animal care, and we are thrilled to welcome our community back,” Varsik said.

He said the two zoos have lost over $3.4 million in revenue since their temporary closure in March and now are facing significant financial challenges. 

 
Under Phase 2 of the governor’s plan, Point Defiance Zoo and Northwest Trek will offer outdoor-only experiences. Guests will follow one-directional pathways throughout both zoos to see many of their favorite animals and wildlife habitats. Northwest Trek will continue to offer its popular Wild Drive premier tours, which allow guests to drive through the park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area and see bison, mountain goats and other native northwest animals from the comfort and safety of their personal vehicles.      
  

TIMED ONLINE TICKETS, LIMITED CAPACITY

  • Both zoos will require timed online tickets for all guests, including members, to control capacity and limit the number of guests inside the zoos at any given time. Tickets will NOT be available at the zoos’ front gates   

  • Tickets at both zoos will be scanned at a no-touch front gate from a phone or printed copy. Timed tickets will be available beginning Wednesday, June 10 at noon at pdza.org and nwtrek.org.

OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES, ONE-WAY PATHWAYS

  • During this phase of reopening, all indoor buildings (except restrooms) and high-touch experiences and amenities will be temporarily closed. Food and gifts will be sold from outdoor kiosks. 

  • One-way paths, playful pawprints and signage will reinforce social distance guidelines.   
     

MASKS, SANITIZER, SOCIAL DISTANCING, NO-TOUCH

  • At both zoos, all staff will wear masks and all guests over 2 years old are strongly encouraged to wear them too.

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be readily available.

  • Only credit/debit cards will be accepted for in-zoo purchases, no cash.

  • Staff will be frequently cleaning and disinfecting restrooms and high-touch surfaces. 

  • Guests and staff are encouraged to avoid touching surfaces to prevent transmission, to follow respiratory etiquette and to stay home if they feel sick.

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POINT DEFIANCE ZOO & AQUARIUM

  • The zoo will be open 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily, with the last timed ticket entry at 4:30 p.m.

  • On Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., entry will be reserved for seniors and those at high-risk from Covid-19. These times can be chosen during ticket purchase.

  • Timed online tickets are $18 for adults (13+), $14 for children (3-12) and free for members and infants under 3. 

  • Visitors need to use the Mildred Street entrance, as the main Pearl Street entrance to Point Defiance Park remains closed to vehicles for the time being due to staff constraints in the parks division caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. Zoo staff will check timed tickets and direct visitors to the zoo parking lot.

  • Members will need to bring member ID and their timed free tickets.

  • Both aquariums, the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, goat feeding, Budgie Buddies, underwater viewing at Rocky Shores, the playground, gift shop, carousel and café will 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 prevent congestion.

  • Food, beverages and gifts 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.

NORTHWEST TREK WILDLIFE PARK 

  • The park will be open 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. daily, with the last timed ticket entry at 5:30 p.m.

  • On Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., entry will be reserved for seniors and those at high-risk from Covid-19. These times can be chosen during ticket purchase.

  • There are two ways to experience the park; guests can choose either or both.

  • The 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 vehicles 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 must be reserved online in advance.

  • The new Wild Walk is a one-way walking route around the main forested area of the park, including bears, wolves, 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 reserve their timed online tickets in advance.

  • The Cheney Discovery Center, Baker Cabin, Kids’ Trek playground, Discovery tram tour and café will be closed.

  • Food, beverages and gifts 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 enhanced 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.