Author Archives: Dallas Zoo

 
 

Dallas Zoo mourns the loss of hippo calf

Adhama and Boipelo in their Simmons Hippo Outpost habitat.

We are heartbroken to share the news that our female hippo Boipelo gave birth behind the scenes to a hippo calf early Saturday morning; unfortunately, the calf did not survive. Because this was Boipelo’s first pregnancy and we could not predict how she would react to the birth and baby, we had been cautious and had not shared the news of the impending birth with all of you. But just as we like to share our good news, we wanted you to have a chance to grieve with us, as well.

“We always put an emphasis on allowing animals to express natural behaviors, so we gave Boipelo space to interact with the baby immediately after the birth,” said Harrison Edell, our Vice President of Animal Operations and Welfare. “The calf arrived just after 6:30 a.m., and while Boipelo did assist the calf to the surface of the pool, it was not soon enough. In reviewing the situation, we know for certain there was no safe way for the staff to intervene to help the calf.”

Our keepers had been monitoring closed circuit cameras 24/7 over the last few months while on birth watch, and we were even able to capture several sonogram images recently, making us one of the only zoos in the country to have done this successfully. We had been anticipating the baby hippo’s arrival and were looking forward to announcing and having the new family debut when we reopen our Simmons Hippo Outpost in a few weeks.

Our hippo team is understandably upset but are focusing on Boipelo to help her through this difficult time. She is healthy following the birth, and our keepers and veterinary team will keep an eye on her to make sure she’s recovering well.

It’s a tough day for our entire Zoo family. Our hearts are heavy, but we so appreciate your support and well-wishes.

Categories: Africa, Hippo, Simmons Hippo Outpost | Leave a comment
 
 

Wild Earth Action Team: Protecting a tiny bird’s big habitat

What’s black, white and red all over? No, not a penguin with a sunburn. Try again. It’s the red-cockaded woodpecker! (The red part is actually just a small stripe on its head). Sadly, though, these little guys are nearly extinct.

But our Wild Earth Action Team (WEAT) is ensuring these birds keep pecking away for a long time. The team just wrapped their third annual trip to the Big Thicket National Preserve where they planted longleaf pines to help restore habitat for this endangered bird and other species.

For the red-cockaded woodpeckers to survive, they need to be able to safely nest – and they rely on longleaf pine forests to do that. So we’ve gotten to work, and over the past few years, the Dallas Zoo and a team of volunteers have planted more than 30,000 longleaf pines to reforest 300 acres for habitat.

“We’re thankful to all our volunteers, including the Dallas Zoo, who have played a vital role in the reforestation efforts in the Preserve,” said Jason Ginder, Park Ranger at Big Thicket National Preserve. “Re-establishing an ecosystem based on native plant communities is vital to a healthy forest. Longleaf pine trees thrive in the Southeast Texas climate, and make it ideal habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.”

We couldn’t make these expeditions happen without our rock star community joining us to protect Texas wildlife.

“Getting the chance to go on this expedition was probably one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been able to do,” said Jon V., Dallas Zoo Conservation Guide. “It felt so amazing to participate in the active conservation process and to help restore the habitat of the endangered woodpecker, so that hopefully one day, it will be taken off the endangered species list.”

We rely on people like you to help us reach our conservation goals. One of our most ambitious goals this year is to remove ten tons of litter pollution from wildlife habitats. Help us reach this by pledging to pick up just ten pieces of litter every Tuesday. It’s that simple! Learn about the Ten on Tuesday campaign here. You can also join us on one of our Wild Earth Action Team expeditions! We head to Corpus Christi March 2-4 to restore habitat for the endangered whooping crane, plus, we’re doing a ton of cool activities. Learn more about the trip!

Categories: Birds, Conservation, Education, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plastic water bottles and plastic bags go extinct at the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo is leaving the plastic bag and water bottle behind. In lieu of plastic, guests are encouraged to purchase canned water at all concession stands and restaurants, and use reusable bags for any Zoofari Market gift shop purchases.

Our sustainable approach means more than 113,000 plastic water bottles and 95,000 plastic bags will be saved from entering landfills and the environment each year. It’s estimated that plastic pollution kills 1.5 million marine animals annually, including one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals, like dolphins, manatees, and seals.

“A plastic bag or bottle blowing around Dallas could very well end up in the ocean. All creeks in Dallas flow into the Trinity River, and some 700 miles later into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ben Jones, Dean of Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Academy. “The Dallas Zoo is strongly committed to creating a better world for animals but it takes all of us to effect change. By reducing our use of plastics, we hope to inspire guests to make easy, positive changes at home, too, to save wildlife.”

The move to cut plastics comes with much-needed support from our food, beverage and retail partner, Service Systems Associates, Inc.

“Service Systems Associates shares a mutual vision with the Dallas Zoo to protect wildlife and wild places, and one major way we can contribute is through the reduction of single use plastics,” said Brett Taylor, Service Systems Associates, Inc. General Manager for the Dallas Zoo. “Only 10 percent of plastic bottles are recycled when compared to 50 percent of cans. Aluminum is able to be recycled over and over again. We’re excited to see how our guests respond to the notion of canned water.”

In 2017, the Dallas Zoo hit a recycling record with 101 tons of materials recycled, including 34 tons of metal; 27 tons of paperboard; 28 tons of co-mingled recycling, like plastic bottles and aluminum cans; 656 wood pallets; as well as, cell phones, electronics, printer cartridges, plastic bags and Styrofoam.

The zoo has 60 recycling bins scattered across the 106-acre park for guests to use. We also encourage guests who shop in the Zoofari Market gift shop to bring their own reusable bag, or buy a reusable bag from the gift shop, or simply decline the use of a bag.

 

Categories: Conservation, Guest Services | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Dallas Zoo’s Simmons Hippo Outpost closed for maintenance

With winter in full swing, we’re taking advantage of the cold weather to perform maintenance on the Simmons Hippo Outpost – the zoo’s newest habitat that opened in April 2017.

No otters will be harmed or put to work during this maintenance project. 😉

The maintenance project will take about 6-8 weeks to complete, which means the hippo pair, male Adhama and female Boipelo, will remain behind-the-scenes during this time.

“Since we keep the hippos inside their warm barn when the outside water temperature drops below 60 degrees, we saw this timing for maintenance as a way to minimize any inconvenience to our guests,” said Harrison Edell, Vice President of Animal Operations and Welfare. “The hippos are receiving the best care possible during this period, getting extra enrichment items to keep them stimulated, and enjoying access to their private outdoor yard for extra exercise when the weather allows.”

Maintenance to Simmons Hippo Outpost will include repairs to the 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window, which was recently damaged while a contractor was performing upkeep to one of the two viewing panels. Maintenance staffers will replace both panels with an acrylic that will be easier to maintain.

The 4,485-square-foot Highland Hippo Hut learning and event space will remain open during this time. Guests can also visit the okapi in the special encounter area where they can meet the stunning, endangered animals up-close during the daily 2:15 p.m. keeper chat (weather permitting, of course).

We promise to keep you up-to-date on the reopening of the habitat on DallasZoo.com and our social media platforms.

The Dallas Zoo opened the $14 million, 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost on April 28, 2017; the habitat was funded solely with private donations.

 

Categories: Africa, Hippo | Tags: | Leave a comment

A teacher’s perspective: Working on Dallas Zoo’s Texas horned lizard project

A teacher measures the size of a wild Texas horned lizard for Dallas Zoo’s population research.

Dallas Zoo’s reptile keepers recently ended their eighth year studying the life history of Texas horned lizards on the 4,700-acre Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch in Fisher County, Texas. By collecting lizard life history data, we hope to shed valuable light on the ecology of this threatened native Texan that is now in decline throughout much of its range. Earlier this year, Dallas-area teachers joined us for our first-ever Texas Horned Lizard Teachers Expedition. Teacher Cara Kailukaitis shares her story on ZooHoo! 

Reptile Supervisor Bradley Lawrence inserts a tag (similar to a pet microchip) into a lizard.

This summer, I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever Texas Horned Lizard Teachers Expedition offered through the Dallas Zoo. When I saw this on the website, I knew I had to attend. Twenty years ago I

did my high school senior research report on these amazing creatures. Finally being able to study these tough little lizards up close and handle them was very fulfilling.

I have always loved nature and as an informal educator I’ve tried to pass this along to homeschoolers. Working with young children is very rewarding and they often bring a smile to my face. But getting a chance to do actual field work with other professionals and teachers was a great change of pace.

Throughout the expedition weekend, I was able to do transect field studies, examine scat and tracks, and help find and take measurements on the Texas horned lizards. What the schedule failed to mention was

The research team, including Cara pictured third from right.

that we would be diving out of four wheelers and grabbing horned lizards as they tried to scurry away. It felt like I was living an episode of The Crocodile Hunter. All that was missing is the guy yelling “crikey!”

While I went to learn about the Texas horned lizard, I also had the opportunity to meet with the interns at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch where the field trip was conducted. They shared a wealth of knowledge about not only the quail but other flora and fauna in the area.  Seeing their efforts put the techniques we were learning about, like transect studies, into perspective. Rather than being just an idea in a book, these techniques were brought to life in front of us. Their efforts to protect the quail have the added benefit of helping the lizards, as well.

All fun aside, I want everyone to know how important it is to reconnect with nature and preserve our environment. The ranch is an oasis in the middle of oil rigs and empty cotton fields. With 94-percent of Texas land in private ownership, it is doubly important that such places exist. Without this space, Texas horned lizards, quail, and many other indigenous species would be homeless.  While at the ranch I could envision the bison that once roamed across this land and wonder what animals will still be here in 50 years. I would love for everyone to make time for an opportunity like this to see just how interconnected we all are.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity the Dallas Zoo gave me to participate in this event and can’t wait for another field trip! A huge thank you to Colin Johnson with Dallas Zoo Education team; reptile keeper Shana Fredlake; and reptile supervisor Bradley Lawrence for making this trip possible, and the staff at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch for all that you do to help protect this environment for future generations.

*If you’d like to be part of an Educator Workshop, check out all of our upcoming programs.

Categories: Conservation, Reptiles and Amphibians | Tags: | Leave a comment

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