Dallas Zoo hosts special day for individuals with autism

IMG_6789-Connect MagazineIn honor of April’s Autism Awareness Month, we’re hosting a special day Sunday, April 24, from 8-11 a.m. for individuals with autism, their families, and anyone who may benefit from a sensory-friendly experience. *Update: Registration for this event has closed. 

Designed with autistic needs in mind, experiences at the zoo will include a sensory activity tour featuring hands-on activities focused on primates, reptiles, and invertebrates. Modifications around the zoo will include sound adjustments and quiet zones to create an enjoyable environment.

Adding extra consideration, Education staff will send families a “social story” one week prior to Sensory-Friendly Day, which includes photos and captions outlining their upcoming day at the zoo. Participants also will receive a parent tip sheet with suggested items to bring, and specific details on the event.

“Animal encounters have proven to reduce social stress in people with autism, and we know our zoo can be that unique outlet for these individuals,” said Marti Copeland, Dallas Zoo’s director of Education. “We’re preparing our participants a week in advance for activities they can expect – we want them to be successful in this special day.”

We’re teaming up with Dr. Tina Fletcher, Ph.D., OT, of Texas Woman’s University School of Occupational Therapy to provide training to all zoo staff and to help with activities the day of the event. Dr. Fletcher is committed to improving access to cultural arts and entertainment venues for children with special needs and their families.

“When we all work together to provide children and their families with an exciting, meaningful, and sensory-friendly experience, they have an opportunity to participate in a great community event while enriching their quality of life,” said Fletcher, who will attend Sensory-Friendly Day with her team of occupational therapy students.

Admission for participants is only $5 and free for zoo members. (Guests are welcome to stay all day in the park.) Sensory-friendly activities in ZooNorth include frog slime creation; making animal prints in kinetic sand; a rainforest smelling activity; animal pelt matching; drawing station; and a nature-themed bingo game.

Quiet zones, located in the zoo’s auditorium and across from Primate Place, will include darker lighting, bean bags and blankets.

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Bye-bye, bricks!

As April kicks off, we’re gearing up for the final days of Nature Connects®! Tens of thousands of you have seen Sean Kenney’s sculptures, inspired by the natural world and created from about 750,000 LEGO® bricks. And there’s still time to check them out, but the last day is April 10.

We’ve rounded up the top Nature Connects activities and events to make the most of your visit (and remember, it’s included with Zoo admission):

  • Master Model Builder at the Stay and Play Brickyard: A master model builder and staff from LEGOLAND Discovery Center DFW will be at their Stay and Play Brickyard this Saturday and Sunday (April 2-3). Help us create a giant mosaic of our famous giraffe statue – the tallest statue in Texas! We’ll be working on the mosaic from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days – you can help build the Dallas Zoo masterpiece, or build your own creations in the brickyard. All day Saturday, lucky mosaic-building participants will score a free pair of tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center DFW.

IMG_9477 Lego master builder CS


  • Family building activities: During the final weekends of the exhibit from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., our Education department is offering special, drop-in programs near the exhibit to build with bricks and connect with nature. This weekend (April 2-3), create a 2D mosaic of your favorite animals, similar to Sean Kenney’s ant hill mosaic in Nature Connects. We’ll provide animal photos as inspiration. Next weekend (April 9-10), build your favorite bug and learn about the importance of insects in our world.

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  • Robotics workshop with LEGO bricks: We’re partnering with Zaniac Learning Center for special robotics workshops this Saturday and Sunday (April 2-3). Guests ages 8-13 will build robotics based on their favorite animal and learn how nature influences our world. Classes are offered both days from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Preregistration is required by Friday, April 1.

IMG_8927 Cardinals bird bath CS

  • Nature Connects activity sheet: Stop by the Information Booth or Guest Services to pick up a map and interactive guide to Nature Connects. See an overview of where you can find each sculpture, paired with question about each one. Look closely at each sculpture to answer questions like what tools the grandfather and grandchild gardeners are using, or the number of legs on an insect.

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Special thanks to you for exploring the exhibit, snapping sculpture selfies, and blowing our minds with your creative building in the Brickyard! Additional thanks to all our sponsors: Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, LEGOLAND Discovery Center DFW, Britain Family, Greater TEXAS Federal Credit Union, McDonald’s of Greater North Texas, Orkin Commercial Services, Thompson & Knight Foundation, as well as sculptures in honor of Emily Frances and Hannah Grace, and Joan Walne and her beloved grandchildren, Will, Lucy, Mary Kate, Brett, Charlie, and Jack.

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Halloween Nights are a naturally spooky time at Dallas Zoo

_MG_0048-Halloween Nights 2014 CBDallas Zoo’s Halloween Nights, presented by Texas Instruments, offers spellbinding entertainment for little ghouls and goblins during four special evenings this week. The zoo gates will screech open after-hours from 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 22-25.

The zoo closes at 4 p.m. and reopens at 5 p.m. for this naturally spooky – but not too scary! – event in ZooNorth.

Dress your children in Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat at 14 themed treat stations. Catch “SOARing the 7 Seas” pirate-themed animal shows at the Wildlife Amphitheater at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and watch a Booooty Pageant show every half hour at the Macy’s Star Stage on Cat Green.

Travel the Yellow Brick Road through the breezeway to Emerald City for a photo opp. At Pirate Cove-themed Picnic Ridge, ride the mini-train and meet a pirate magician. Then venture through the Wilds of Africa tunnel to play carnival games, touch and learn about marine biofacts, and visit the African penguins.

_MG_9822-Halloween Nights 2014 CBMingle with stilt-walkers, costumed characters and meet Zoohilda the friendly witch in ZooNorth. Stop by Cat Green to enjoy bounce houses and an interactive bubble experience. And reconnect with nature by making Ghost Eyes to plant in your yard — mold clay balls filled with soil and seeds that’ll grow into native wildflowers.

The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo will be full of mystery, with activities, games, frequent animal encounters and more. Guests will find creepy-crawly critters like serpents, newts, and toads at the Reptile Building, then end the night with a backwards spin on the Haunted Carousel.

Admission is $10 per person for ages 3 and older and includes six candy coupons for each paid admission. Ages 2 and under are free, and Dallas Zoo members receive a discount of $2 per ticket. Additional candy coupons are available for $5 for another six coupons. Parking is $5 per vehicle, or take the DART Red Line to the Zoo’s door.

The Prime Meridian restaurant will be open, plus food and drink carts will be scattered throughout. Tickets are sold at the door or online at

See all the Halloween Nights spooktacular fun below!

Categories: Events, Halloween Nights | 1 Comment

Forest Wildlife Weekend: Conservation action for forest animals

Children help plant and water trees during our Forest Wildlife Weekend event.

Children help plant and water trees during Dallas Zoo’s Forest Wildlife Weekend event.

Dean of Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Academy, Ben Jones, guest blogs on ZooHoo!

Thank you for an extraordinary Forest Wildlife Weekend filled with wild inspiration, family fun, and conservation action at the Dallas Zoo. Our animals inspired 3,613 new conservation commitments for wildlife here and around the globe. Couple those with the 4,074 pledges made over Endangered Species Weekend this summer, we’re in striking distance of making 10,000 personal pledges for wildlife conservation this year.

Thousands of guests enjoyed activities inspired by our amazing forest animals. They balanced like a gibbon, sniffed like an okapi, planted trees with the Zoo’s Green Team, and much more. Our three community partners: City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality, The Texas Trees Foundation, and The Trinity Trust, highlighted Dallas’s own Great Trinity Forest. At 6,000 acres, it’s the largest, urban, bottomland, hardwood forest in North America._MG_2163

When it comes to saving animals from extinction, no strategy is complete without a focus on forests. Forests cover only about 30% of the world’s surface, yet they’re home to about half of all terrestrial biodiversity. Forests play a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate; by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, they form the world’s largest terrestrial store of atmospheric carbon. It’s hard to believe, but the destruction and degradation of the world’s forests accounts for a higher share of global CO2 emissions than the entire transportation sector.

_MG_2100Even if you didn’t make it out for Forest Wildlife Weekend, you can still make high-impact commitments at home to save our forests and the animals who call them home:

Action for Vultures

  • We’ll choose shade-grown coffee & tell 3 people why.
  • We’ll choose organic, fair-trade chocolates.

Action for Gorillas

  • We’ll extend the life of our mobile phones & recycle them.
  • We’ll reuse paper and buy sustainable forest products.

    Zoo staffers pledge to buy candy made with sustainably harvested palm oil.

    Zoo staffers pledge to buy candy made with sustainably harvested palm oil to save gibbons.

Action for Gibbons

  • We’ll make sure palm oil in our sweets is deforestation-free.
  • We’ll choose recycled paper products.

Action for Okapi

  • We’ll reuse and recycle paper products.
  • We’ll only buy gold certified from conflict-free zones.

Action for Turtles

  • We’ll pick up 10 pieces of plastic pollution every Tuesday.
  • We’ll make sure our reptile pets are captive-bred.
Making tree cookie necklaces with Texas Trees Foundation.

Making tree cookie necklaces with Texas Trees Foundation.

Action for Opossums

  • We’ll keep our trashcan lids on tight.
  • We’ll feed our pets inside.

Action for Wildlife

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

Action for Tigers

  • We’ll support companies committed to deforestation-free palm oil.
  • We’ll choose FSC certified wood products.


Action for Texas Forest Animals

Texas A&M Aggies pledge to protect forest wildlife.

Texas A&M Aggies pledge to protect forest wildlife.

  • We’ll plant a native tree this year.
  • We’ll care for our neighborhood trees.

Get ready to honor wildlife conservation with us again Nov. 21-22 for Savanna Wildlife Weekend. We’ll activate around animals like elephants, giraffes and African vultures, from grasslands, savannas, and prairies. We’ll even work to protect our own Blackland Prairie, which is the most endangered ecosystem in North America.

Together, we’re changing the world for wildlife!

Check out our Instagram hashtag #DallasZooWildlife to see photos from this past weekend’s event.

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Heavy rain POSTPONES Safari Nights kickoff

SafariNights_ColorThe kickoff of the Dallas Zoo’s third annual Safari Nights summer concert series, scheduled for TOMORROW NIGHT, May 30, has been postponed. The record rainfall and last night’s storms have saturated Cat Green, where the outdoor concert series is held.

With the potential for more storms in the forecast and the safety of guests, animals and staff a priority, the zoo will reschedule Petty Theft (Tom Petty tribute band) and The Bird Dogs to a later date.

The Dallas Zoo is open for regular hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) today and tomorrow. However, due to storm cleanup in the Wildlife Amphitheater, the DinoSOAR wildlife show will not be held today or Saturday.

More info on Safari Nights:

Extended zoo hours and special evening keeper talks will give visitors a chance to mingle with some of the zoo’s wildest stars before the bands start to rock during Safari Nights. The concerts, which start at 7 p.m., will bring music to Texas’ largest zoo until 9 p.m. Food will be available for purchase, along with soft drinks, cold craft beer and wine.

The concert lineup, arranged through a partnership with The Kessler in Oak Cliff, includes:

POSTPONED – May 30: Petty Theft (Tom Petty tribute band) and The Bird Dogs

June 6: The Relatives (psychedelic gospel funk)

June 13: Escape (Journey tribute band)

June 20: Trout Fishing in America (eclectic folk/rock)

June 27: The Killdares (Celtic rock)

July 4: Live 80 (’80s tribute band)

July 11: A Hard Night’s Day (Beatles tribute band)

July 18: Sara Hickman (Texas singer/songwriter)

July 25: FastLane (Eagles tribute band)

August 1: The O’s (roots rock)

As the sun goes down, guests can get close to the stars of the zoo’s Animal Adventures outreach program and catch a special presentation of DinoSOAR, presented by Kimberly-Clark, the dynamic, interactive wildlife show featuring birds and mammals from all over the world.

The Safari Nights event schedule includes:

Lion Keeper Talk: 5 p.m.

Elephant Keeper Talk: 6 p.m.

DinoSOAR: 6 p.m.

Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo Keeper Encounters: 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Wild Encounters Stage animal presentations: Every half-hour until 6 p.m.

Animal Adventures: 6:30 p.m.

Concerts: 7 p.m.

Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo and Travis & Zach’s Birds Landing open until 7:30 p.m.

Giraffe Feeding, Koala Walkabout, and Lorikeet Landing open until 8 p.m.

Giants of the Jurassic exhibit and T-Rex Express mini train open until dark

Safari Nights is FREE with zoo admission, which for non-members is $15 for ages 12-64; $12 for ages 3-11 and seniors; and free for children under 2. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Cabana rental packages will be available for purchase. Parking is $8 per vehicle (free for members), or visitors can take DART, the Zoo’s Official Transportation Provider; the Red Line drops guests off at the zoo’s entrance. iHeart Media is the Official Media Sponsor of Safari Nights.

Categories: Events, Exhibits and Experiences, Safari Nights, SOAR, A Festival of Flight presented by Kimberly-Clark | 2 Comments

Brought to you by the Dallas Zoo