Author Archives: Lauren Lombardo

Animals visit brave patients at Children’s Health

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The Dallas Zoo’s wonderful partnership with Children’s Health, one of the top pediatric health care providers in the nation, allows us to take patients’ minds off of the treatment they’re undergoing. Through the Simmons Animal Safari program, we’ve traveled to the hospital _MG_8354since 2014 for magical up-close animal encounters.

The Zoo recently paid a visit to Children’s Health with animal ambassadors who brought the smiles, including an opossum, a tamandua (also known as a lesser anteater), and an African crested porcupine with giant quills. Patients and their families sat eagerly, waving animal-themed masks as they waited to meet each new creature. As the Zoo’s Animal Adventures outreach team shared trivia and engaged with the kids, even hospital staff paused to see the show.

Engrossed in the moment, the kids animatedly shouted answers and shifted in their seats to see who they would meet next. The room came alive with excitement, spreading smiles from face to face as each animal ambassador said hello.

As penguin duo Sid and Jazz waddled into the spotlight, the room collectively gasped in delight, thrilled to meet two of our most beloved _MG_8383ambassadors. The kids enthusiastically asked questions as they learned about the Zoo’s African penguins. At the end of the presentation, patients and their families had the opportunity to take a photo with Sid or Jazz, capturing this moment forever.

As these brave families said their goodbyes to the animal ambassadors, we gifted them with one more surprise – each family was given tickets to the Zoo, including the patients who couldn’t make it down to meet us. We look forward to many future visits to Children’s Health, bringing enjoyment to these extraordinary kids and their families with each animal encounter.

Categories: Education, Penguins | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

It’s World Wildlife Day & we need millennials to care

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_MG_1606-giraffe feeding-visitors-CB

“Investment in our young people will ensure the continued survival of wild animals and plants and help us in the fight against the devastating illicit trade in wildlife.” ~ John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITESIMG_4353 Galapagos Number 12 with Bradley Lawrence CS

Today is World Wildlife Day, a global celebration dedicated to raising awareness about the wild animals and plants that inhabit our incredible planet. This year’s theme urges animal lovers everywhere to “listen to the young voices.” Nearly half of the world’s population is under the age of 25 – that’s roughly 3 billion young people!

Now, more than ever, we need to encourage these future leaders to take action and protect endangered wildlife before they are gone forever. Today, we seek to empower both millennials and Gen Z so that they may be the last generations to ever have to worry about species extinction. We incite these young people to make their voices heard and call for change before it is too late.

There are currently over 40,000 species on the IUCN Red List. Of these species, approximately 16,000 of them are endangered – translation: they’re at risk of extinction. More than 1,000 of these endangered species are native to the U.S. alone. Each year this number grows larger and larger from pollution, habitat destruction, poaching, and illegal trade. If left unchecked, the results could be catastrophic.

The loss of even a single species reverberates through the food chain, impacting all plants and wildlife within an ecosystem. Natural landscapes are slowly disappearing with little hope for reversal or regrowth. _MG_0033-Little boy at penguins-CBFrom advances in medicine to helping us breathe, the reasons for protecting these wild spaces and their inhabitants are innumerable.

For millennials and Gen Z, sustainability is no longer merely a suggestion, but an immediate responsibility. Change must happen now on both a local and global scale. We owe the earth, its wildlife, and its diverse habitats the simple kindness of respect and appreciation. While it is still up to everyone to do their share in protecting the environment, these young voices are the driving proponents of future change. Together, we can enhance them so that they may echo and resound around the world, inspiring protective policies that keep our wild plants’ and animals’ best interests in mind. So, we ask everyone – no matter which generation you may be a part of – to #DoOneThingToday to support conservation efforts and help save the world’s wildlife.

Learn more about Dallas Zoo’s wildlife conservation partners, and how you can get involved. Plus, visit our volunteers page and get hands-on with us – kids, too!

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Working towards a ribbiting recovery: Rescuing the dusky gopher frog

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An additional pond created for the dusky gopher frog in DeSoto National Park

An additional pond created for the endangered dusky gopher frogs in DeSoto National Forest.

It was nearly a year ago that Ruston Hartdegen, the Dallas Zoo’s curator of Herpetology, found himself driving deep into the pine woods of the DeSoto National Forest on a mission to save a species on its last leg – the dusky gopher frog.

While the origional 180 tadpoles that Hartdegen picked up have now metamorphed into frogs, the Zoo’s work is not done yet. The dusky gopher frog isIMG_9163 Gopher Frog CS still considered critically endangered with populations endemic to only Glen’s Pond, Mike’s Pond, and McCoy’s Pond within the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi.

These spotted amphibians will remain in human care at the Zoo until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finished developing a full recovery plan for the species. Though the Zoo will retain a number of the frogs as part of the Species Survival Plan program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to identify suitable places for the experimental re-introduction of this species, possibly beginning in 2018.

“The current remaining wild populations are very limited and under intense monitoring. Previous habitats where animals have been extirpated are not likely to recover in a short period of time,” said Hartdegen.

The tadpoles await transport in the research lab at the DeSoto National Forest.

The tadpoles await transport in the research lab at DeSoto National Forest.

In late January, it was Bradley Lawrence, the Zoo’s reptile and amphibian supervisor, who found himself making the nine hour drive back to

the remote Mississippi coast to pick up more tadpoles – but transporting a critically endangered species is no easy task, even the second time around.

The Zoo received four groups of thirty-two tadpoles – over 120 dusky gopher frogs in total. Each group of tadpoles comes from a separate egg mass, meaning that these groups are all of different parentage. In order to drive the tadpoles to the Zoo, these groups were each placed in five gallon buckets filled with water. Using an air pump, oxygen was run to each of the containers for the duration of the trip.

“I tried desperately to keep the tadpoles from shifting around on the drive back. I stopped every couple of hours to check on them,” said Lawrence. “Ultimately, they all made it here safely.”

Like their predecessors, these dusky gopher frogs will be part of the Species Survival Plan program. In the future, some will likely be used in

Bradley Lawrence snaps a selfie with the precious cargo en route to Dallas.

Lawrence snaps a selfie with the precious cargo en route to Dallas.

breeding efforts while others may be released back into their native longleaf pine wetlands – an ecosystem that has been devastated by continued habitat loss. But conservation efforts shouldn’t start and end at the Zoo gates; there’s plenty that you can do at home.

“Many of the world’s amphibians can be helped in the same way whether you live in Texas, Central America, Africa, or wherever: conserve water, don’t pollute, and recycle,” says Lawrence. “Water pollution, loss of habitat, and depleted ground water all hurt amphibian populations.”

Check out these conservation tips from our Green Team that you can follow at home in order to help save the dusky gopher frog.

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

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:

CONSERVATION PLEDGES:_MG_7169

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.
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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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