New Pacific Seas Aquarium Means No Zoobilee

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is a South Sound staple. And the zoo’s annual gala and auction, Zoobilee, is a noteworthy regional event. However, due to big changes happening at Point Defiance, this year’s Zoobilee has been cancelled.

The zoo is instead focusing on the launch of their new Pacific Seas Aquarium, which is scheduled to open this summer. According to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Deputy Director John Houck, the official grand opening date will be announced later this spring.

“The structure itself is nearing completion. Once that’s accomplished, our staff biologists, educators, filtration specialists and other team members will take over, ensuring that we have ideal habitats for the many animals that will be moving in,” Houck said. “Our educators, meanwhile, are polishing powerful messages about these animals and the threats that pollution and other issues pose to our ocean and the animals that live there. We believe our guests will be inspired by our animals to take action to help, and we will provide them with simple steps everyone can take to make a difference.”

Houck said the aquarium will feature three signature species new to Point Defiance: green sea turtles, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and spotted eagle rays. Also on site will be other warm- and cold-water animals that live around the Pacific Rim, from the Puget Sound down to Baja California and across the ocean to Japan.

The zoo’s round centerpiece, the North Pacific Aquarium, will close to the public as a saltwater aquarium at 4 p.m. on Mar. 30. A two-day special event will be held on Mar. 24 and 25 for those who want to say their goodbyes. The old aquarium will eventually reopen with another exhibit. Which aquatic creatures the signature dome will house, however, remains to be seen.


Though Zoobilee won’t be occurring this year, there are other fundraising events for those hoping to support Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (dates to be determined).

  • Brew Night in May featuring more food, more room, and most importantly, more breweries
  • A fall luncheon to support Point Defiance’s education programs
  • A brew, whiskey, and wine event in October with a spooky Halloween theme
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