Revamped Rocky Shores Ready For Debut

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s Rocky Shores area has undergone a renovation, and on May 11 it will have its grand opening.

Chinook, a 779-pound California Sea Lion is excited about his newly renovated 220,000 gallon pool. And he’ll be part of the grand opening festivities when Rainiers mascot Rhubarb throws the ceremonial “first fish.”

It’s a $2 million dollar makeover that’s updated and refreshed the 35-year-old area at the zoo. Rocky Shores is home to puffins, walruses, sea lions, sea otters, and more.

The new look is thanks to a $198 million MetroParks bond passed by Tacoma voters in 2014. It’s the first project to be completed at the zoo with the bond funds. A new aquarium is also included in the project list, which is set to open in 2018.

“We are delighted with the renovations done at Rocky Shores, and we are grateful to Tacoma voters for their continued support of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium,” Metro Parks Board of Commissioners President Andrea Smith said. “Zoo visitors have been fortunate to experience marine mammals and sea birds up close at Rocky Shores for 35 years. This renovation ensures that more generations of Tacoma residents will enjoy viewing and learning about these animals.”

New signage in the exhibit has a focus on conservation. The graphics and words focus on the connections between people and animals. It also helps that Rocky Shores gives visitors an up-close glance at swimming sea lions and other animals.

“Now, we’ve put a sharpened focus on what these animals can teach us and how our actions affect the ocean and shore we share with them,” Conservation Engagement Manager Karen Povey said. “We want visitors to know more about the high quality of care Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium provides for the animals that live here, as well about conservation actions we all can take to help their counterparts in the wild.”

is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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