Puyallup Tribe gift largest in Point Defiance Zoo history

The board of directors of Point Defiance Zoological Society yesterday announced the largest gift in the history of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, a $685,000 contribution from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The donation is for five years of sponsorship of both the Red Wolf Woods exhibit and funding for Zoobilee, The Zoo Society’s premier fundraising event.
Red Wolf Woods, a $1.15 million exhibit to house Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s endangered red wolves, will be a dramatic change from the zoo’s 30-year-old chain link enclosure for the animals. It will feature improved viewing opportunities to allow visitors better visibility of the wolves, camera-equipped wolf dens to allow the animals privacy and naturalistic exhibit features to include more sunlight and water features. An interpretive area will allow the visitors to learn about Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s role in red wolf wildlife conservation success story in North American history.
In the early 1970s, only 14 pure red wolves were known to exist in the wild. To protect the species, the US Fish and Wildlife Department asked for help from the zoo community — the first conservation partnership of this sort — and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offered to take on the project, an endangered species recovery program. Now, more than 35 years later, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s off-site breeding facility has increased the red wolf population from a meager 14 to a sustainable 275. Because of this breeding program, a wild population of red wolves born through zoo-coordinated breeding activities now lives in North Carolina. Red Wolf Woods will provide a venue for teaching the public about this program.