Take action for wildlife we love

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_MG_7072The Dallas Zoo’s annual We ❤️️ Wildlife event celebrated a different kind of love. Members and guests showed their appreciation for animals, keepers, and conservationists with valentines created at stations across the Zoo. Guests then delivered these cards during keeper talks as a welcomed sign of gratitude for the amazing staff members and animal residents that make the Zoo such a special place. Visitors even crafted cards to be sent to our conservation partners around the world, who contribute to the protection of animals and their habitats. We received hundreds of valentines – talk about feeling the love!

Over 3,000 people took conservation pledges inspired by an array of animals, pushing us even closer to our goal of 30,000 pledges this year!_MG_7292 Families committed to making small changes in their everyday lives in order to practice more sustainable actions that will keep our animal friends safe and healthy. The tiger-inspired pledge to “support companies committed to deforestation-free palm oil and choose FSC certified wood products” received the greatest number of commitments. Plus, an amazing 450 conservation bracelets were purchased with all proceeds directly benefiting the animals they represent.

We had a wonderful weekend and would like to thank everyone who joined us, showing their love and support for wildlife. Our staff and keepers dedicate their lives towards species survival and conservation efforts. Together, through minor, but important, commitments each and every day, we can prevent extinction and help endangered animals flourish once again.

Couldn’t make it out to the Zoo for We ❤️️ Wildlife Weekend? Take a conservation pledge and commit to make small changes at home that will lead to big differences in the wild:

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We ❤️️ Gorillas

Our Pledge to Protect Gorillas:

We ❤️️ Elephants

Our Pledge to Protect Elephants:

 We ❤️️ Giraffes

Our Pledge Inspired by Giraffe:

  • We’ll respect & protect native wildlife.
  • We’ll restore wildlife habitat.

We ❤️️ Penguins

Our Pledge to Protect Penguins:

We ❤️️ Wildlife

Our Pledge to Protect Wildlife:

  • We’ll pick up 10 pieces of litter pollution every Tuesday.
  • We’ll use reusable grocery bags.

We ❤️️ Tigers

Our Pledge to Protect Tigers:

We ❤️️ Horned Lizards

Our Pledge to Protect Texas Horned Lizards:

We ❤️️ Flamingos

Our Pledge to Protect Flamingos:

  • We’ll use reusable grocery bags.
  • We’ll pick up 10 pieces of litter pollution every Tuesday.
Categories: Conservation, Education | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Random Acts of Kindness to the Earth

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It’s National Random Acts of Kindness Day! While most think of this celebration as a chance to make a stranger’s day, we have a different type of kindness in mind. At the Dallas Zoo, we take pride in doing our part in protect the natural world, and thought it only appropriate to take some time to show our appreciation for the third rock from the sun. Although today may be Random Acts of Kindness Day, we challenge you to complete these simple actions below to show Mother Nature a little compassion year round.

Wildlife and nature go hand in hand. Habit loss and pollution are two of the leading causes of animal extinction and endangerment. Every 20 minutes, we lose at least one animal or plant species. Nearly 240 acres of wildlife habitat are destroyed every hour. If our actions go unchecked, 20% of the millions of species that exist could be extinct within the next 30 years – an unprecedented rate. It’s up to us to work together and make changes that promote sustainable actions in our everyday lives. With nearly 9 billion people projected to inhabit the Earth by 2050, these changes need to start now before our animal friends and their habitats are gone forever.

Select one (or five) of the following actions suggested by our friends at Reverse Litter and show Mother Earth you care by doing it today, and always:

  • Plant a tree. Trees give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with materials DebTreesKids to create tools and shelter.
  • Recycle plastic bottles. Most plastic jugs and bottles are 100 percent recyclable. The City of Fort Worth offers a curbside recycling service that citizens can use to help reduce waste in our environment. You can also use a site like Earth 911’s Recycle Center to locate the closest recycling facility near you.
  • Shut off the water when brushing your teeth. You can save up to 8 gallons of water every day by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  • Return your plastic grocery bags to the store’s recycling bin. The recycling bins are usually located at the entrance of the store. If you are pressed for time, sites like abagslife.com make it easy to locate the nearest plastic bag recycling bin near you.
  • Reuse disposable household items like newspapers, glass bottles, jars, plastic containers and paper bags. This will reduce your trash waste and make Mother Nature smile.Ink Cartridge and Other Recycling at ESC

Need some inspiration? Here’s a little food for thought as you go about your day!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
—Margaret Mead

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Dallas Zoo, Dallas Symphony Orchestra bring ‘Music and Motion’ together for students

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In a unique partnership that brought music and science alive for students, the Dallas Zoo and Dallas Symphony Orchestra developed a creative new program that melded animals and music, two things kids love but may never have imagined overlapping.

The program – which started at the Zoo to explore how animals move, and ended with soaring compositions at a unique DSO concert – encouraged cross-curricular learning, an interdisciplinary way of teaching that stimulates students to build connections and think in creative new ways.

In January, more than 3,000 students attended the culmination of this partnership, a “Music and Motion” youth concert featuring famous animal-themed music, along with orchestral arrangements of animal-inspired melodies composed by local students.

(Listen to the introduction to the performance.)

“Cross-curricular learning deepens the experience for students and can create connections that make learning real for them,” said Marti Copeland, Dallas Zoo’s director of Education. “Music stimulates the mind, and this program also incorporated movement, which has been shown to enhance brain activity. When students are doing something they are interested in or enjoy, they are ready to learn.”

Students kicked off the program in September with a special Animal Adaptations Tour, guided by Zoo educators. They observed animal movements, which were then related to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in Science through adaptations and physical traits used for survival. Students met a variety of animal ambassadors as they also searched for musical inspiration, including ocelots, flamingos, kangaroos, koalas, spider monkeys, and even Rufus – the Zoo’s illustrious bobcat.

“It was exciting to see the students in front of an exhibit and hear them talk about what they saw,” said Anna Lewis, the Dallas Zoo’s camp coordinator. “I loved seeing them try to move like the animals and make connections from one exhibit to another.”

Following the tour, Dallas Symphony Orchestra teaching artists led an interactive music composition workshop at the Zoo. Students were steered through the creative process, learning how to apply their observations of animal movements to write melodies.

A number of these original melodies, including “Leaping Kangaroos,” “Stalking Bobcats,” “Swinging Spider Monkeys” and more, then were selected and arranged for full orchestra by DSO Education Director Jamie Allen. The combined excerpts formed the single “Music and Motion” composition featured in youth concerts performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in January.

“I always enjoy seeing the ‘aha’ moment when that light bulb of inspiration hits,” Allen said. “We wanted to adapt the idea of music to animals in order to expand children’s minds, because learning doesn’t happen in silos. That’s just not how kids think.”

At the “Music and Motion” premiere, groups of DFW students were abuzz with excitement in the Meyerson Symphony Center as DSO Assistant Conductor Ruth Reinhardt introduced a flurry of animal-inspired pieces. Students heard the Dallas Symphony Orchestra perform such movements as Saint-Saën’s “Carnival of the Animals,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and Mancini’s “Pink Panther.”

(Listen to the Music and Motion performance.)

But the highlight of the afternoon was the world premiere of “Dallas Zoo Melodies.” Local student-composers enthusiastically clapped, cheered, and imitated their favorite animals as they heard their works come alive.

“The students who participated in the ‘Music and Motion’ program at the Zoo were very engaged throughout the experience,” Copeland said. “They were so creative in coming up with a rhythm and melody for each type of animal movement. When I heard the world premiere of ‘Dallas Zoo Melodies’ at the Meyerson this week, I enjoyed picking out the different animal-inspired melodies. The ‘Stalking Bobcat’ tune has stayed in my head for days!”

Love learning and animals? Find out more about the Dallas Zoo’s amazing classroom programs and partnerships  today!

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Nests 101: Building a home out of ANYTHING

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IMG_2819 Wattled Crane on nest CS

Bird keeper Eric Lutomski guest blogs on ZooHoo!

IMG_8272-GoldenTaveta Weaver-CBEveryone knows birds build nests, but not everyone realizes just how many different kinds of nests there are! Nests can be as small as a teacup or as large as a dinner table and can be plainly out in the open or carefully hidden away.

Nests are constructed from all sorts of materials like carefully woven fibers or large tree limbs. Sometimes birds use even unusual materials, like saliva for glue or spider webs for camouflage. Many birds don’t make nests out of anything at all—their eggs are instead laid in burrows underground, inside a hollow tree or log, or even on a well-shaped ledge of rock.

Here at the Dallas Zoo, letting birds build their nests is a very enriching and stimulating experience. It lets the birds perform their natural behaviors like location selection, material gathering, and nest construction.

_MG_1200-Spoonbill chick and mom-CBIn many species, building the nest is part of courtship between males and females and is important for breeding success. Ideally, all birds at the Zoo would be able to build their own nest, but sometimes they get a bit of help from the zookeepers.  It can be anything from extra grass or sticks to mesh platforms for support structures.  We want to ensure that eggs or chicks don’t fall out of the nests.

Large birds like vultures, eagles and storks don’t like to nest on the ground, so keepers provide them with elevated platforms and lots of sticks of many shapes and sizes that the birds can weave together to form their nests.

Songbirds and other small birds, like jays and pigeons, prefer their nests to be bowl shaped.

Many birds like hornbills, lorikeets and cranes nest in tree cavities or other secluded locations like burrows or tall grasses, so keepers provide boxes for them so they can nest in privacy.

So next time you visit the Zoo, take a careful look! Is there a nest hiding in any of the exhibits? Where are they? What birds might be using them? Remember that you can take this knowledge home with you and build your own nest box for the birds in your neighborhood. (Bird Houses are nest boxes, too!)

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Pint-sized Texas Longhorns delighting Children’s Zoo guests

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It may not be the Starship Enterprise, but the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is the perfect home for the newest animal additions: Captain and Kirk. These two miniature Texas longhorns are settling in nicely to their home and guests couldn’t be happier.

Miniature longhorns are a relatively new breed and came about through selective breeding of full-sized longhorns. These smaller longhorns are gentle and docile, making them the perfect addition to the Children’s Zoo.

The minis joined us in November, but until just recently were nameless as they integrated into the Children’s Zoo and began working with keepers. Former U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk remedied that situation.

IMG_6427Kirk, a former Zoo board member and long-time supporter, won the naming rights to the longhorns at the Zoo To Do gala late last year. Kirk enlisted his daughters to help name the calves. And he admits he’s never seen an episode of Star Trek.

The minis are eight months old and weigh 200-250 pounds. Fully grown, they’ll weight 400-500 pounds and stand up to four feet tall. For now, their signature horns are more like stubs, but over the next two years they’ll grow and have similar proportions to their full-size longhorn brethren.

Guests can see Captain (he’s the larger of the two with mostly black hair) and Kirk at the Children’s Zoo red barn. Those that want an up-close encounter with Captain and Kirk should sign up for the new Junior Rancher Adventure program, where they’ll get to interact with and feed the longhorns.

Live long and prosper, Captain and Kirk!

Categories: Children's Zoo (Lacerte Family) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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