Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Red Wolf Exhibit
Tacoma, Washington

In 1980, only fourteen red wolves remained in existence. Thankfully, Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium responded to a call from the US Fish & Wildlife Service to initiate a breeding program. Now, more than three hundred red wolves live in zoos and in the wild.

The Red Wolf Woods exhibit tells this amazing recovery story through replicated habitats, interpretive and graphic materials, and architectural design. 


A wooded path, lined with six-foot tall corten steel markers, which recall events in the decline and recovery of the red wolf, guide visitors through the exhibit. Views from exhibit overlooks reveal the wolves playfully frolicking in the grassy meadows at the sinlit edges of the forest or in a secluded den in a hollowed out log. The architecture reveals the repurposing of structures on the ruins of a once functioning farmstead. The path culminates at the Red Wolf Conservation Center, where visitors will gain more insight into the on-going recovery efforts at PDZA and throughout the United States. On the walls, the survival of the species is recounted through written interviews, release and wild video footage, breeding program artifacts and a graphic summary of the red wolf’s Road to Recovery.

Project credits: John Swanson, Principal, Project Landscape Architect; Carly Mendelssohn, Interpretive & Architectural Designer; Haley Nam, Landscape Exhibit Designer; Sue Nicol, Horticulturist; Sherry Smith, Content Developer