Talking to the Zookeepers pays off!! Next time you visit a zoo—say hello and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Tufted puffin couple at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, WA

Tufted puffin couple at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, WA

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium currently has 20 tufted puffins in its exhibit, 9 males and 11 females. The tufted puffins range in age from 1 to 31. They currently have the oldest living puffin in captivity at 31 years of age!! He is only 3 years younger than me! =) Not only is he the oldest living puffin in captivity but tufted puffins are thought to only be capable of producing and raising chicks until their mid-twenties but this 31-year-old tufted puffin is a proud papa this year! The Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium also has the oldest living female in captivity at 27 years old. And if all this isn’t enough to make you get excited they also have 3 tufted puffin pairs that they believe are raising chicks this year. I wrote ‘they believe’ because the zookeepers try to let the tufted puffins raise the chicks as naturally as possible so the zookeepers do not check on their progress. They wait and are surprised by the little ones in the exhibit. How fun is that?!?

This is one of the tufted puffin mothers this year

This is one of the tufted puffin mothers who had a chick this year

The youngest tufted puffin chick at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium as of August 2009!

The youngest tufted puffin chick at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium as of August 2009!

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is currently in the middle of some intensive training with their puffins as well. In the past year they have been training them to eat from the zookeepers’ hands so that they can better deliver any vitamins and medications the puffins may need. The training has been extremely successful so far. Part of this training for the last 6 months included working on scale training the puffins (training the puffins to step on a scale in order to get more frequent weights) instead of having to catch the puffins and hold them to get their weight. Catching them is extremely stressful for the puffins and so the the new weighing techniques has been very effective for both the zookeepers and the puffins. The Pt. Defiance Zoo now has weights on all birds except for about 4.

It is amazing what some hard work can produce! These quirky adorable little birds are definitely smarter than the zookeepers realized. I, for one, am looking forward to discovering more about the little pufflings and the progress of the training at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium!

For more information on the puffin exhibit (within the Rocky Shores exhibit) at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium—you can visit them online at their official website or in person at:

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 N Pearl St # D Ruston, WA 98407-3296
(253) 591-5337

What are the hours and days of operation to see the puffins at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium? The zoo is open from 9:30-6:00 until September 7. After that the zoo is open from 9:30-5:00. The birds can be viewed any time during those hours, their exhibit is never closed.

When are the best times to go to see the puffins at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium if you have questions?
They feed their puffins 3 times a day during breeding season, twice a day during non-breeding season. As of right now, they are fed at approximately 8:00, 12:00-1:00, and 3:00-3:30. They will discontinue the last feeding during non-breeding season. This isn’t really definitive, but there is not a set schedule to when they feed their animals but this is a good guess. I will update you when I find out more…