After a month-long public vote, the Dallas Zoo’s Giants of the Savanna has been named the No. 3 zoo habitat in the nation — and the best in Texas — in USA Today’s 10Best travel rankings, released Friday.
It’s just the latest award for the one-of-a-kind habitat, the only one in the nation where elephants mingle alongside giraffes, zebras, ostriches, impalas and guineafowl, as they do in Africa. The successful mixed-species project took three years to develop after the opening of the award-winning habitat in 2010. The Savanna is home to the Zoo’s five “Golden Girls” elephants, as well as the 13-member giraffe herd, including three-week-old viral Animal Planet star Kipenzi.
In addition, Giants of the Savanna includes separate habitats for African lions, cheetahs, warthogs and red river hogs.
“The Giants of the Savanna was a game-changer for our zoo,” said Gregg Hudson, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Zoo. “It was our first major initiative after we privatized in 2009, and over the past five years it’s become an international model for human care of elephants and giraffes. Zoo experts from all over the world visit Giants of the Savanna and our staff to see this habitat. We’re honored that the public and USA Today’s 10Best list also recognize its unique qualities.”
The Dallas Zoo is the largest and oldest zoo in Texas, sitting on 106 acres, and is currently undergoing a renaissance unprecedented in its 127-year history. The zoo was named to three separate “Best U.S. Zoos” lists in the past year, as well as one “Best in the World” list. Attendance is on a pace to break records for a sixth consecutive year, with more than 1 million guests expected this fiscal year.
The current Giants of the Jurassic animatronic dinosaur exhibit, complementing Giants of the Savanna over on the ZooNorth half of the park, has been enormously popular in its first month. The exhibit, featuring more than 25 animatronic dinosaurs, plus dig boxes, water-squirting cannons and fossil displays, is open through Sept. 7.
USA Today is the nation’s No. 1 newspaper in print circulation, with an average of more than 1.6 million daily, and USATODAY.com, an award-winning newspaper website launched in 1995, reach a combined 6.6 million readers daily. Nominees for each 10Best category are chosen by a panel of relevant experts, which include a combination of editors from USA Today; editors from 10Best.com; relevant expert contributors; and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties.
10Best.com provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The core of the site’s uniqueness is its team of local travel experts: a well-traveled and well-educated group who are not only experts in their fields – and their cities – but discriminating in their tastes. These local experts live in the city they write about, so the content is constantly updated. In 2012, 10Best.com averaged more than 700,000 monthly unique visitors generating approximately 28 million page views. It was acquired by USA TODAY in January of 2013.