Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

NOTICE: Word on the Street has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Word on the Street.
Visit the new section.

Category: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium


Homer, believed to be last sea otter survivor of Exxon Valdez spill, dies at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The last remaining sea otter known to have survived the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Monday.

Homer, believed to be 25, went on to live an unusually long life after the Valdez disaster. A sea otter’s lifespan is 15 to 25 years.

Homer was named for the city in Alaska where she was found. She came to Tacoma not long after the oil spill, and was one of about three dozen sea otters that were rescued and placed in zoos and aquariums.


Read more »


Seal pups go on exhibit at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Thursday

Visitors to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will get to meet two newborn harbor seals for the first time Thursday.

The pups, whose names will be announced at their public debut, are swimming well and will be released into the main harbor seal exhibit pool at 11 a.m., the zoo said.

Shila, 8, gave birth to a male pup June 2. Qilak, 9, had a female pup June 10.

Since their births, the pups have been nursing behind the scenes.

The zoo is also home to harbors seals Blackie, 37, and Louise, 36.


Meet Tien, Tacoma’s newest clouded leopard

Six-week-old Tien, an endangered clouded leopard cub is held by staff biologist Kadie Burrone, during his afternoon feeding time. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer) See more photos of the cub in our gallery.

The clouded leopard cub born last month at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now has a name and can be seen by visitors to the zoo.

Tien, (pronounced Tea-n), was named by zookeepers for the Thai word meaning strong, stable and steady, though it’s not a direct translation, according to staff.

He was born to mother Chai Li and dad Nah Fun May 1,

Read more »


Second harbor seal pup of the month born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Harbor seal Qilak gave birth to a 22.6-pound female pup Monday, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s second in eight days.

A male pup was born June 2 to 8-year-old Shila.

Both newborns are bonding with their mothers behind the scenes, and have yet to be named.

The male pup is “already becoming quite a swimmer,” said Neil Allen, curator of aquatic animals.

The newborns need time to nurse and gain a layer of blubber to regulate their own temperatures, according to the zoo. It could be a couple weeks before they make their public debuts.


Read more »


Auction fundraiser for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium starts

Bid on unforgettable behind-the-scenes experiences with animals, portraits, cheap eats and entertainment to help raise money for the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

The Zoo Society has launched its annual online Zoobilee auction, which boasts more than 90 items. Items will continue to be added until the auction closes July 5.

Proceeds fund the zoo’s conservation and education efforts.

Popular auction items include a chance to meet 3,4000-pound walrus E.T., a portrait of a zoo animal by PDZA’s photographer, lift tickets for Stevens Pass, gift certificates to Tacoma area restaurants, sports tickets and beauty treatments.

The auction is tied to

Read more »


Harbor seal pup born at Point Defiance Zoo

Meet the newest addition to the harbor seal family at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

The 23-pound pup, who has yet to be named, was born Sunday to eight-year-old Shila, whose maternal instincts are in full swing as she cares for the newborn.

“She’s a great mom,” general curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said.

Mother and pup will bond behind the scenes for a couple weeks before they join the other harbor seals on exhibit, though the zoo said it’s too soon to say exactly when the public will be able to see the little

Read more »


Harbor seals expecting pups at Point Defiance Zoo

Two harbor seals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are pregnant and expecting pups next month.

Q, a 14-year-old who came to Tacoma from Seattle Aquarium last year as part of a breeding program, fathered pups with Qilak and Shila.

Gestation periods for harbor seals range from nine to 11 months, with only one pup born each year.

This is the first time Q has fathered pups.

On Tuesday, Q and 28-year-old Barney were sent home to Seattle Aquarium, which just finished renovations on its seal exhibit. It’s scheduled to open in June.

Accompanying them was a female seal from

Read more »


Sumatran tiger cub to make public debut at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Thursday

The newest addition to the Point Defiance tiger family will make her public debut Thursday.

The rare Sumatran cub was a surprise to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff members who found the newborn in a nest box April 17. Mother Jaya had not shown signs of being pregnant.

The baby tiger might be hard to see in the cub den most of the day while she’s sleeping, according to the zoo.

Visitors can watch as zookeepers bottle-feed the cub and interact with her at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

The name

Read more »