A day spent at the zoo is a privilege, time well-spent in the presence of majestic, threatened and endangered animals who deserve our respect, compassion and conservation.
The recent actions of 10-year-old Gracie Wakefield of Garland, Texas, show that she feels the same way. A normal Dallas Zoo day for the proud Girl Scout of Northeast Texas and her mom, Cindi, turned into a rescue mission when Gracie discovered a Galapagos tortoise eating a plastic water bottle.
“I first heard the plastic crunching. Then I saw half a water bottle hanging out of its mouth,” Gracie explained. “I ran down to the insect house and told them to radio for help. A reptile keeper ran over and took the bottle out.”
Several small pieces of plastic were removed from the tortoise’s mouth.
Reptile keeper Shana Fredlake says trash dropped by guests or blown into the Zoo gets into the wrong mouths too often. “Every day, I’m picking up plastic spoons, chip bags, water bottles, you name it,” she said.
And on a few occasions, our vets have had to remove foreign objects. “It’s terrible for their intestines because this stuff doesn’t break down,” Fredlake said.
Some simple advice from Gracie could help keep animals from getting hurt, both in the Zoo and outside of it: “Hold on tight to your water bottle so you don’t accidentally drop it. And don’t litter, because no one wants to see an animal hurt. I really like animals and I was so scared for that tortoise.”
We’re extremely thankful for Gracie’s quick response, and we hope all children are such good stewards of our environment and protectors of our animal kingdom.
Littering some numbers
- Given how busy we are, anywhere from 10 to 40 park services staffers work daily to keep our 106-acre park clean.
- 182 trash and recycle receptacles are placed throughout the zoo, ready to welcome your waste.
- “Please don’t litter” reminders can be found throughout the park.
- And another friendly reminder resides on your zoo map – so don’t let that become litter, either!