Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium announced that its new 35,000-square-foot Pacific Seas Aquarium will open to the public on September 7.
The space, which was designed by EHDD — the same architects behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium — will include two massive tank exhibits. Baja Bay, a 280,000-gallon warm-water exhibit, will house scalloped hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles, and spotted eagle rays. Northwest Waters, a 100,000-gallon exhibit, will be home to local marine species. Also featured in the new aquarium is a Tidal Touch Zone, an up-close experience with marine creatures, and a Tidal Surge, a 4,500-gallon outdoor exhibit full of sea stars, anemones, and urchins.
Additional animals in the Pacific Seas Aquarium will include jellies, Japanese spider crabs, schooling fish, and a giant Pacific octopus.
At a cost of approximately $50 million, the new aquarium is the largest capital project in the zoo’s history. It was largely financed by a $198 million Metro Parks Tacoma bond issue that voters approved in 2014.
Even after the opening event, the zoo will continue to add finishing touches and introduce new animals to the aquarium through the end of the year. The zoo’s old aquarium, called the North Pacific Aquarium, will serve as a temporary home for animals until they can be moved. According to a statement, the zoo is still considering potential short- and long-term options for the iconic round building.