More people visited Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium last year than ever before.
Officials believe the opening of a new aquarium helped to bring in 820,776 guests in 2018, smashing the previous attendance record of 732,208 from 2015.
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park also saw a bump in visitors, with 222,294 people passing its turnstiles.
That makes it the Eatonville park’s second-highest annual attendance since it opened 43 years ago.
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The two zoos combined drew more than 1 million guests.
“Reaching 1 million for the first time is a wonderful indicator of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Treks’ importance and relevance in our community,” said Alan Varsik, Metro Parks Tacoma’s director of Zoological & Environmental Education.
The new aquarium opened in September, four years after voters approved a bond issue for several park improvements.
It wowed visitors with sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, an octopus named Oswald and hundreds of other sea creatures.
“This state-of-the-art aquarium will bring delight, wonder and curiosity about our ocean to generations of guests over the next several decades,” Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners President Andrea Smith said.
Here are some things to look forward to in 2019:
▪ Malayan tapir Yuna is expecting a calf this summer.
▪ Red wolves Charlotte and Hyde arrived in Tacoma this week and are expected to breed. They could be parents by spring.
▪ Zoo officials will continue developing artificial insemination protocols for endangered Sumatran tigers.
▪ The wolverine exhibit at Northwest Trek is being renovated.
▪ Eagle Passage is scheduled to open in the spring, showcasing the national bird and telling the story of how the bird came back from near-extinction.