Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and a Blast from the Past at the Rose Garden

Last week after having been being cooped up for days – first by smoke from wildfires, then by the heavy rain which followed – we were desperate to get out. So despite the rain we drove south to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, where we had tickets to enter at an appointed time, with a handful of other masked visitors.

We’ve been there before but every trip promises a new adventure and this day didn’t disappoint.

The rain stopped in time for us to leave our umbrellas in the car and we walked the beautifully landscaped grounds under mostly blue and cloudy skies. In fact my first picture looks more like Arizona, not a rainy day in Tacoma.

Point Defiance is a jewel of a park with forest, trails, a fort, gardens, zoo and aquarium.

I like the aquarium the best as I always have mixed feelings seeing animals confined, no matter how lovely the spaces.

The jelly fish are my favorite – I could watch them all day long,

including one of the largest, the Lion’s Mane Jelly.

And who doesn’t love sea otters? Nobody enjoys their meal like these rascals who ate and swirled and summersaulted in the water.

After we had our fill of the zoo we headed to the gardens just as it was starting to rain again. Surprisingly we’d never been there before as there’s so much to do in the park.

We moved on quickly to the Rose Garden enjoying the fragrance and color of the still blooming roses.

As we were leaving I stopped to read the sign giving the history of the Rose Garden. The Welsh designer, Ebenezer Roberts had worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, before immigrating to the U.S. in 1888. He designed the rose garden in 1895 along with many other Tacoma parks.

As I read the sign I noticed a familiar image above Ebenezer Roberts’ name.

And there it was, a picture of my grandmother, Elsie Chapman as a little girl in the early 1900’s, standing with her mother, my great grandmother. The photo was likely taken by my great grandfather, O.T. Frasch who was an early Seattle photographer.

Oh what a surprise! So I went back through the garden wondering where she had stood. Was it here? Or perhaps over there? And of course there was no way to tell and it really didn’t matter, but I knew without that little girl I wouldn’t be here and so I owed her some time there.

~ Susanne

17 Comments on “Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and a Blast from the Past at the Rose Garden

  1. That was such a special connection with your family, and wonderful to discover. I used to boycott zoos for years, but then I watched a documentary series about the conservation work done by London Zoo. I was so impressed, I became a member of the Zoological Society of London for the time I still lived there.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Thanks Pete. They definitely have their place especially as animal habitat continues to shrink. The Point Defiance Zoo even kept the red wolf from extinction and sent some back to the wild in the U.S. I just feel bad seeing certain animals in captivity, especially the elephants and the big cats. But this is a good zoo and I still like to visit.

      • Yes, it seems like these days the zoos and nature preserves are the only chance some animals have of surviving extinction. I think they’re okay as long as they’re run responsibly.

      • Yes, I agree. I think this zoo and Woodlawn Park in Seattle are both very good in terms of the work they do and the space they provide the animals. Even so, I still have a hard time seeing elephants and large cats confined.

  2. So cool you found that picture of your grandmother!! I love Pt. Defiance, haven’t been there in years but we used to go a lot when in Tacoma. Beautiful pictures.

  3. How exciting to find a photo from your family history! (You know I love that kind of thing!) And the sea otters are so cute. There is a Sherlock Holmes story called “The Lion’s Mane”, if I’m not mistaken, where it turns out the culprit was actually one of those jellyfish 😱

  4. Pingback: My Great Grandfather’s Incredible Postcard Art! O.T. Frasch Was Seattle’s Legendary Photographer! – johnrieber

    • Point Defiance is a wonderful park with something for everyone. And coming across the picture of my grandma as a little girl was such a pleasant surprise. Thanks so much for your comment. 😊

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