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Monday, February 6, 2017

Point Defiance Zoo January 2017



The arctic fox was probably my favorite attraction and a highlight of this year's visit.
Bears, wolves, elephants, and foxes oh my.  In case if you didn't know I got a new go pro for Christmas and what good place to take it than Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  It was well in the winter I went, (contrast to going there in the summer a few years back) and in addition to seeing the usual animals, I also went with the idea of getting footage of the red wolves and arctic foxes, and to my luck both animals were out.  I even listened in on one of the zookeeper talks about the red wolves. Here are pictures below and commentaries.  Note that some of the pictures I took were with the go pro and others were with my windows phone (both have their pros and cons).

Doing a selfie at the zoo entrance.  Interestingly I actually drove by the woodland park zoo on the way down to Tacoma from Everett (decided to do the highway 99 and 509 routes going through Seattle).  I thought about going to Woodland Park, but I was just there back in the summer and was definitely overdue for going to Point Defiance again.  

Yes you are seeing that right: there is a crane in the park.  The zoo was in the process of building a new aquarium as well as rennovating the "rocky mountain" portion of the park.

Tried to get pictures of the elephant.  Despite the wintery weather there was still a good number of people visiting the zoo and we were watching the zoo keeper feed the elephants.  By the way, the Woodland Park Zoo no longer has elephants, so if you happen to visit the Seattle area and want to see elephants at the zoo, you will probably want to visit Point Defiance Zoo (either that or the Portland Zoo).  It is not clear if or when the Woodland Park Zoo is planning to get new elephants, but for now, Point Defiance Zoo is your better bet for seeing them..

Snapped photos of ducks in the elephant's enclosure.  


The zoo had a bunch of asian tigers on display and I tried to snap photos of them.  Challenge with using a go pro is that you can't zoom in on what you are trying to take pictures of (plus you don't really know how they turn out till you get home and load them on the computer).  



Another picture of the tiger enclosure


No trip to the Point Defiance Zoo is complete without visiting the aquarium.

Tried to snap photos of the fish tank.  Some of the pictures were a little out of focus.

Jellyfish.  By the way the Puget Sound is full of them.

Sea anenomies


Here is a closerup picture of the new aquarium being built.  By the time I am there again, (maybe next year) maybe it will be done.



Walrus feeding time.  There was crowd watching the walrus getting fed, so it was hard to snap a photo of the animal from a good angle.

Here is another picture of the walrus

Now visiting the red wolf exhibit.  By the way, red wolves is almost exlusive to the point defiance zoo (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) as the Woodland Park Zoo has the more traditional timberwolves instead.  Red wolves are considerably smaller than timber wolves and seem to have a coyote like appearance (some people have confused them for coyotes to even though they are actually wolves).

Ahead was a shed where you can find more info on the red wolves.

Here is the Muskox exhibit.  


This is the reindeer exhibit.  I remember jokingly calling him rudolph after rudolph the red nosed reindeer (hey it was Christmas season a few weeks before).

Now approaching the arctic fox exhibit.  The foxes were definitely a highlight of the visit.  One perk about going in the winter is that you are almost guaranteed to see them (unlike in the summer months where they can hide due to the hot weather, as was the case for back in 2015) and they have their fluffy white coats.  

Yeah, on challenge of getting pictures with my go pro (especially at the arctic fox exhibit) is the the sun often tends to get in the way.  Obviously during this time of year, days are considerably shorter and the sun sets earlier.  It was in the afternoon and the sun did have a way of getting in the way when taking pictures.

Although it is hard to see the arctic foxes from this angle, they were out there.  

Here was one of the foxes.  Interestingly one definitely seemed to be more active than the other.  There was a second fox in the enclosure, but he seemed to napping near the back of the pen (probably more shy around humans than the other fox).

Here is a better shot of one of the foxes (though the best ones I got were with my Windows phone)


There is the other fox.  Less active than the other one.
Here is a more clear picture I have of the foxes.  Used my windows phone to snap photos too and was able to zoom in on them.  By the way, on Instagram, I nicknamed this fox "Tails the arctic fox" (you know Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog, despite Tails actually being a red fox instead of an arctic fox). 
The foxes definitely seemed to be enjoying the sun.  They were both sunbathing at times.  
Here is a "then" picture of the arctic foxes at the Point Defiance Zoo back in 2012.  I remember posting that one on Facebook

Here is a bulliten board that talks about the foxes.  If you are looking to see arctic foxes, Point Defiance Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo and Olympic Game Farm (in Sequim) all have arctic foxes (will have to get pictures of the arctic foxes at the Woodland Park Zoo sometime).  The Portland Zoo doesn't seem to have any last I checked and I am not sure if the Vancouver Zoo in British Columbia does either (though you have to go across the border to visit that zoo).  By the way, arctic foxes don't exist in the wild here in Washington (they are way up north in the arctic regions) though there are supposedly red foxes in the state, though they are pretty elusive and hard to find in my opinion, unless if you know where to look and usually come in the form of coyotes too (though I did have my first sighting of a red fox here in Washington back in December when I saw what looked like a cross phase red fox near Monroe Washington at night).  By the way if you are looking for the more traditional red foxes, I have heard that Northwest Trek in Eatonville has them.  Next time I visit Northwest Trek (tentatively planning a trip this spring) I will try and get footage of them (especially considering that pictures and videos of them are hard to find on the web).




Check out this photo: very up close picture of the arctic fox.  I haven't gotten closeup pictures of foxes like this one up till now.  I remember trying to get pictures of them at the Woodland Park Zoo last summer, but they were out of focus, but like I said earlier, I wanted to get pictures of the arctic foxes while i was there and I did just that (and they have their white coats too).  There were actually at least 2 foxes in the enclosure but this one seemed to have more energy and was not nearly as shy around visitors like the other one is.  He would often run laps around his enclosure and stop to watch visitors too.  Though he did seem to be somewhat camera shy when I filmed him with my go pro camera.  If you are looking to see some arctic foxes here in the seattle area,  both Woodland Park Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo have them.  My recommendations: if you are wondering about when is the best time of year to see arctic foxes at the zoo, I would probably recommend going sometime in the winter months (though I am sure late fall and/or early spring will do as well) as they seem to be most active in the colder months.


Here is one last picture I got of the arctic fox.  I think this is the other one that was "hiding".  He definitely seemed to be soaking up the sun.

Here is a closer up photo of the red wolves.  I dubbed his name "Willie" (from Wille Coyote on Looney Tunes).  I also listened in on the zookeepr talk about the wolves too.  Apparently like their cousins here in the north, the red wolves are also recovering from near extinction and the Point Defiance Zoo has teamed up with other zoos and organizations on helping them recover in the wild.  I suppose one good thing about zoos for animals is that they help preserve them.  If it weren't for efforts to help the red wolves, they might have been extinct by now.

Here is the red wolf curled up sleeping.  He was up later when the zookeepr was giving a talk.  Interestingly there are at least 4 red wolves you can see at the Point Defiance Zoo (with 2 of the younger wolves being in one enclosure and the 2 older wolves being in another enclosure)

Here is the red wolf looking at the camera

Hey, it is Rudolph the reindeer going on a long needed vacation after helping Santa Claus back in December (just kidding).  



Hungry goats.  I wanted to feed them, but didn't have any quarters on me during my visit to the zoo.  Didn't see any atm machines either there so I couldn't get extra cash for them.  If you plan to feed goats, you will probably want to bring extra cash with you before going to the zoo as they don't seem to have atms anywhere.

Another picture of the goats


Here is a goat waiting for treats

Despite being in the middle of January it was gorgeous day to visit the zoo.  Even did the 5 mile drive too.




I left around 3ish, but it was already starting to get darker out.
Bonus Content: Point Defiance Park

Tip: whenever you visit Point Defiance Zoo and have extra time to spare, I might recommend visiting the Point Defiance Park and even doing the 5 mile drive loop.  It is a pretty big park and you do get plenty of views of the puget sound, dash point (highway 509 goes right too Dash Point from Tacoma and has lots of similarities to Chuckanut Drive and Larabee State Park in Bellingham), Kitsap Penninsula, Vashon Island, and even the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  You are also pretty close to the Vashion Island Ferry terminal too, and could opt to ride the ferry if you want to (though that would have to be a separate adventure for me).


Here is a big map of the park.  



Sun was slowly starting to set, but I was able to get pictures of the sound.  The 5 mile drive closes at dusk, so I had to manage my time well to get through in time.



Tried to snap a photo of this raccoon.  If you are looking for good places to see raccoons in the wild, I highly recommend visiting the 5 mile drive as the park is loaded with them and are pretty common in my opinion (especially in the afternoon and early evening hours).  I usually encounter a bunch of them there.  It was tricky to get clear pictures of them as they run around pretty quickly, plus I was driving and had people behind me (yes the 5 mile drive does has its share of aggressive drives).  Raccoons are probably the most common animal you are likely to see there. I have heard that red foxes have a presence there too but I have yet to see one for myself (it is definitely easier to see arctic foxes at the Point Defiance Zoo than to see red foxes at Point Defiance Park in my opinion).  Interestingly, I have looked for pictures and/or videos of red foxes at Point Defiance online, haven't seen anything on them other than an article about a dead fox that was apparently killed by poachers (http://blog.thenewstribune.com/crime/2009/04/01/fox-found-dead-in-point-defiance-park-officials-want-suspicious-activity-reported/), but I want to believe they are around there and am curious to see if any of you have seen them there.  If you have any pictures or videos of red foxes at Point Defiance Park feel free to share them.  

No trip to Point Defiance Zoo is complete without doing the 5 mile drive at least once.  Definitely a good scenic drive to do and offers plenty of views of the woods, the puget sound, kitsap penninsula, and even the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  You can also visit Fort Nisqually too if you wanted to.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for raccoons and possibly red foxes as you might see them along the way.  You may even encounter a ghost too if you go just after dark (apparently it is a haunted road), though I have yet to encounter the ghost myself.


Another picture of the raccoons


Lots of viewpoints to see and get out and stretch.






Well, those were all of the pictures I got.  Kinda wish I could have gotten more pictures of the elephants, tigers, and even the polar bears, but that would have to be something for another trip.

Other Zoos I am tentatively planning to visit this year (given the opportunity):
- Northwest Trek.  It has been at least 6 years since I was there last and am definitely due for another trip there.  I also want to try and get pictures and videos of the red foxes they have too.  Not sure when I will go, but probably sometime in March or April.
- Bearizona Wildlife Park.  It is official, my family is planning a trip to Grand Canyon later this year and I have heard about about Bearizona (which is relatively close to there near Flagstaff).  I can't make any promises about visiting that zoo as I will be at the mercy of the rest of my family's intersts, but if I get an opportunity to go there, I will be sure to check it out.
- Maybe Woodland Park Zoo.  I might try and go to the Woodland Park Zoo in the summer sometime.

Also: American Camp on San Juan Island.  I have heard that San Juan Island (particularly the American Camp area) is loaded with red foxes and I am definitely overdue to visiting the San Juan Islands again and want to see the foxes for myself.  I might get an opportunity to go there in april (was invited to a family friend's wedding at Roche Harbor), but it falls in the same month when my middle brother and his wife are supposed to have their baby, and if it falls on the same weekend as the wedding, I won't be able to attend and even if I do make it to the wedding, I can't make any promises about visiting the American Camp area (would likely have to be a separate trip).  Though I have heard that even Roche Harbor gets their share of foxes, so I will have to keep an eye out for them if I go there.

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