Closure notification: Ndebele Plaza & Wilds of Africa

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In preparation for the Dallas Zoo’s annual fundraiser, Zoo To Do, some areas of the park will closed to guests this Friday (Sept. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 1).

Sept. 30 – The Wilds of Africa Ndebele Plaza will be closed to guests. The Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail will be accessible via the Gorilla Trail, and Wild Encounters stage activities will be held at Simmons Safari Base Camp.

Oct. 1All of the Wilds of Africa will be closed to guests. This includes Giants of the Savanna, the giraffe feeding platform, the monorail, Wild Encounters stage and both restaurants. Admission will be reduced to $5. (Note: The Zoo will close at 4 p.m. with the beginning of fall/winter hours.)

Thank you for your understanding as we prepare for our biggest fundraiser of the year.

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Green tip #4: Pack a trash-free lunch

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This month’s green tip is another double whammy: helping the earth and your pocketbook! Did you know that the average U.S. child produces 67 pounds of lunch trash per school year? That’s about a billion pounds a year going straight to our landfills. Fear not, you can help reduce that by following these lunch-packing tips.

1. Pack everything in a reusable lunch pail, instead of paper bags. Paper bags often end up in the trash, rather than the recycling bin. A reusable bag can be used year after year! They also come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and materials.

2. Ditch the plastic sandwich and snack baggies! Swap them out for reusable containers and snack bags. Do you like having your foods separated, but don’t want too many bulky containers in your lunch bag? Try bento-style boxes! These containers have sections, so you can keep everything separated until you’re ready to eat. It’s a great all-in-one option.

3. Pack a reusable water bottle. These bottles can be filled with water, juice, or anything else and significantly reduce the amount of plastic entering our landfills. This one is a big money-saver, too, because 24-packs of water can cost about $10. For that amount or less, you can have unlimited refills on water!

4. Ditch the disposable plastic utensils. Pack lunches with reusable utensils made from bamboo, metal, or BPA-free plastic. Reusable utensils are more durable in the long run.

5. Try using cloth napkins. They are small enough to fit in with any load of laundry when they need cleaning, and save a lot of paper! You can find different designs and smaller sizes to fit your lunchbox.

These aren’t the only ways to have a trash-free lunch, but it’s a great start! Do more research and find ways for you and your family to reduce your waste. Are you already doing these things? Do you have any other tricks of the trade? Comment below and let us know!

Learn more about how you can be a part of Dallas Zoo’s Green Team.

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Kunekune piglet siblings make us squeal

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Q. What’s fat and round, and has a name that means “fat and round?”

A. Kunekunes!

In June, the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo welcomed two baby kunekune pigs to the big red barn. Adorable siblings Oliver and Penny quickly became a favorite of guests and employees alike.  (Jordan, the Children Zoo’s 17-year-old Vietnamese potbelly pig, is unimpressed with the youngsters next door. But she tolerates them, and all the extra visitors to the pig pens – very well.)

“Penny and Oliver have not only been one of the cutest additions to the Children’s Zoo, but they are one of the smartest as well,” zookeeper and lead trainer Jennifer Lim said.  “During short training sessions, using their favorite produce of grapes, apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots, these young piglets have already learned how to target, station, and crate on cue!”img_0279-kune-kune-piglets-cs

The only true “grazing pig,” kunekune (pronounced “koon-koon” or “kooney-kooney,” either is correct) are a breed of domesticated pigs that are native to New Zealand. The name does indeed mean “fat and round” in Maori. It wasn’t so long ago that they almost went extinct, with only 50 known purebred kunekunes in the 1970s. The breed came back from the brink thanks to the efforts of devoted wildlife preservationists, and today they are no longer considered endangered.

Penny and Oliver have the trademark kunekune short legs and short “smooshed” snouts, and are reddish brown with black markings. However, it’s easy to tell them apart – Oliver has one black ear, and Penny has wattles (also called “pire pire”) that hang down from her jaw.

Right now, at four months old, Penny and Oliver weigh about 30 pounds each. By the time they’re mature, however, they may weigh as much as 100 pounds.

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Dallas Zoo attracts more than 1 million visitors again

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Fast Crowd v3For the second straight year, we’ve welcomed one million visitors! The milestone was hit a full month earlier than last year, the first time we reached the exclusive mark. This milestone now puts us on pace for the seventh consecutive year of record attendance.

And it’s all thanks to our incredible supporters who we will honor with a “Thanks a Million!” weekend celebration Sept. 17-18. (Details to come in the next few weeks!)

“We appreciate our community’s support so much,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO. “More than a million people recognize the efforts we’ve made to become one of the nation’s best zoos. They’re telling their friends that we’re not the zoo of the past, but one that’s leading the future. We can’t wait to see where we’ll end up at the end of our fiscal year in September.”

We welcomed our millionth visitor Saturday night during our first Pokémon Go Night event. More than 5,200 guests flooded the gates starting at 6 p.m., ready to hunt Pokémon throughout the 106-acre park.

This is the second time we’ve welcomed one million visitors in a fiscal year. The previous record was set just last year on Sept. 23. Of the more than 230 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), we join only 30 other zoos to reach more than a million visitors annually.

Several key factors helped us reach this milestone:

  • The March reopening of the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari. The popular people-mover underwent a $3 million renovation with updated electrical and mechanical systems, a new station, air-conditioning onboard, and more.
  • Elaborate LEGO® brick displays crafted from more than 700,000 bricks called us home from Jan. to April. Nature Connects included larger-than-life sculptures created by award-winning artist Sean Kenney, and a large, tented Stay and Play Brickyard, presented by LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth.
  • We collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African elephants who arrived in March. Wildlife officials in drought-ravaged Swaziland planned to cull the elephants in order to focus on rhino conservation. Five of the elephants found a home in Dallas, and more than two months later, rescued elephant Mlilo gave birth to baby boy Ajabu.
  • Fifth consecutive Certificate of Excellence award as one of the world’s best businesses by TripAdvisor, the largest travel reviewing and planning web site, and maintains a four-star rating on Yelp.
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Green tip #3: Upcycling makes old products new again

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Our keepers are always looking for ways to repurpose things. When it comes to old Christmas trees, our tigers go nuts for this easy enrichment item.

You’ve all heard the phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but did you know there’s a fourth way to help the environment and it’s the newest trend in town? Repurposing or “upcycling” old items into new ones is a great way to save money, showcase your creativity and an even better way to be environmentally sustainable!

As you come up with new ways to save your pocket and the environment, look no further than the unused items in your home:

Old jeans are easily one of the most upcycled materials because of their durability and distinctive look. Try making blankets, pillows, backpacks, purses, wall storage and coasters with this great textile.

Rain boots or cowboy boots will look festive even after the insides have been worn down and damaged. You can use these as doorstops, planters, and even birdhouses.

Glass Jars and bottles are made to serve as a container when you buy them, so why not upcycle them to contain something else? Use beverage and jam jars as fun decorations, flower vases, toothbrush holders, jewelry holders, kitchen organizers and just about anything else you can think of!

If you run out of ideas on what to upcycle, recycling is the next best thing!

Learn more about how you can be a part of Dallas Zoo’s Green Team.

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