New restaurant, gift shop open at Point Defiance

Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Saturday opened its new restaurant and gift shop. Both are part of a larger $5.58 million project that will include a new education center and visitor entry.

The two new buildings were designed by McGranahan Architects of Tacoma and built by Neeser Construction of Des Moines.

The Plaza Café, built on the site of the Red Rooster Grill, more than doubles the indoor and outdoor seating area.

In addition to fast foods, the café will offer hot entrees, soups, salads and sandwiches, and a variety of beverages, including Starbucks coffee.

Service Systems Associates (SSA) is managing food service and catering operations at the zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park under terms of a contract approved in May by Metro Parks Tacoma Commissioners.

The Denver-based company specializes in food service and catering at zoos.

Plaza Gifts, at 1,500 square feet, will provide considerably more retail space than the Zoo has had available in the past.

The store offers souvenirs and a wide selection of gifts and clothing.

Zoo officials expect the education center and new front entry to be ready by early fall.

This and other projects are being financed with proceeds from a $35 million bond issue approved by Tacoma voters in 1999.

The zoo has already completed an outdoor theater, animal hospital, maintenance building and animal food preparation facility and the Asia Forest Sanctuary, which recently opened.

Point Defiance switching to fall hours

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will switch to its fall operating schedule beginning today.

Hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 30.

The zoo has made a number of changes this year, including operating hours, admission prices and events.

The Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater will offer two programs daily through Sept. 25.

Programs were offered at noon and 3:30 p.m. Starting today, the schedule will be noon and 2:30 p.m.

Zoo operating hours for 2004:
– Sept. 7-Sept. 30, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission Prices:
– General: Adult $8.75, Senior $8, Youth (4-13), $7

– Pierce County residents: Adult $8, Senior $7.50, Youth (4-13), $6.50

– Groups of 12 or more: Adult $7.50, Senior $6, Youth (4-13), $6

– School groups: $5 all ages

– Parking: Free

2004 Zoo Calendar
– Sept. 25-26: Wild About Books

– Oct. 16-17: Wolf Weekend

– Oct. 23-24: ZooBoo

– Oct. 30: WhooDunnit

– Nov. 6: Career Day

– Nov. 26-Jan. 2: Zoolights

For more information, visit the zoo’s Website at or call 253/591-5337.