Two baby bear cubs play together at the NW trek park near Eatonville. 
Courtesy of NW Trek.
Two baby bear cubs play together at the NW trek park near Eatonville. Courtesy of NW Trek.
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Northwest Trek and Point Defiance Zoo smashed attendance records this past year with more than 1 million visitors to both attractions.

Northwest Trek saw some of its highest attendance numbers in over 40 years, according to a park news release.

When coupled with the 222,294 guests who visited Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Eatonville in 2018, Metro Parks’ two sister zoos drew more than 1 million visitors last year. That’s the second-highest total annual attendance in Northwest Trek’s 43-year history, the news release stated.

"With every step forward our guest can see a continued enhancement to the quality of care we provide our animal, and our increasing efforts to inspire greater environmental stewardship," Director of Zoological and Environmental Education Alan Varsik stated in the news release. "Reaching one million for the first time is a wonderful indicator of Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Northwest Treks' importance and relevance to our community."

Northwest Trek completed a list of conservation milestones in 2018, include;

•Working with federal and state agencies to find homes for mountain goat kids who could not be paired with their known mothers during a relocation of goats from Olympic National Park to the North Cascades. Five of the kids are now living in the Free-Roaming Area at Northwest Trek.

•Providing homes for two orphaned grizzly bears, one from Alaska and one from Montana, and two badgers orphaned in Eastern Washington.

•Continued participation in the fisher reintroduction project in the North Cascades, in cooperation with federal and state agencies and private organizations.

This year's projects include;

•Renovations at the wolverine exhibit. Two Wolverines will soon be on exhibit, including two familiar furry faces who previously had homes at Northwest Trek.

•Eagle Passage is due to open in the spring, showcasing our symbolic national bird and telling the story of the nearly extinct species that recovered thanks to conservationists.

•Conservation work with the fisher reintroduction project and research into white-nose syndrome in bats will continue in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays during the winter season. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Both zoos will be open on Monday, Jan. 21, for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday. For more information, go to www.pdza.org  and www.nwtrek.org.

“We believe our guests leave Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park more closely connected to nature and inspired to take action to conserve wild places and endangered species,” Varsik stated.