Monorail Safari

Dallas Zoo welcomes first-ever rare Somali wild ass babies

 

For the first time in Dallas Zoo’s 129-year history, we’re proudly welcoming two extremely rare Somali wild ass foals. Born 10 days apart, the little girls and their moms are doing great and bonding beautifully behind-the-scenes.

The first foal named Kalila, meaning “dearly loved” in Arabic, was born July 9 to 13-year-old mom Liberty. This is dad Abai and Liberty’s third foal together – the pair previously welcomed two babies at their former home, the St. Louis Zoo.

One-week-old Naima explores her behind-the-scenes habitat.

The second foal named Naima, meaning “calm” in Arabic, was born July 19 to dad Abai, and first-time mom Hani, who turns five years old next month. And just like her older half-sister, Naima was standing, walking and nursing within minutes.

“This is a big moment for our hoofstock team. Somali wild asses are critically endangered with less than 600 left in the wild,” mammal curator John Fried said. “Only nine institutions in the U.S. care for this rare species, and to be able to welcome two babies is truly one of the highlights of my career.”

Native to the arid regions of the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea – there are many reasons the Somali wild asses’ numbers have dropped drastically in the wild. Locals hunt this species for food and traditional medicine – some believe their fat treats tuberculosis. Somali wild asses also directly compete with livestock for limited land and water sources. Plus, wild asses are crossbreeding with domestic asses, hurting the genetics of this species.

With unique zebra-striped legs, a soft gray upper body, a white belly, and a spikey black-and-gray mane, Somali wild asses are the smallest of the wild equids (horses, asses, and zebras). Standing about four feet at the shoulder and weighing roughly 600 pounds, these animals also have the smallest hooves of any equid, which help them navigate rocky slopes.

The Dallas Zoo is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Somali Wild Ass Species Survival Plan (SSP) to increase their numbers in human care and keep the North American gene pool genetically sound. In 2005, father Abai arrived from the Basel Zoo in Switzerland to bring a new bloodline to the U.S. Since then, he’s sired multiple foals.

Kalila nurses behind-the-scenes from mom Liberty.

“These little girls have brought so much excitement to our hoofstock barn,” mammal supervisor Christine Rickel said. “Although they were born 10 days apart, they look vastly different. We joke that Liberty has super milk because Kalila’s already a big girl. She was born weighing 65 pounds – 14 pounds heavier than Naima.”

Liberty, Hani and their foals were introduced to each other last week behind-the-scenes, but the protective mothers are hesitant to allow the little ones to play together, who just want to run in circles to their hearts’ content.

The babies will soon venture into the arid habitat off the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail. And, in time, they’ll meet the gemsbok, addax and ostriches, with whom they’ll eventually share the habitat.

Stay tuned for more updates as these precious girls continue to grow.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Monorail Safari | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 ways to have the best Saturday ever at the Zoo

It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, and you’ve watched everything in your Netflix queue. Whether you’re ready to spend the day with your crew or going on a date, the Zoo’s got you covered. We’ve listed 10 suggestions for having the best Saturday ever with us and over 2,000 animals. So change out of those PJs, and head outside to experience the Zoo like never before!

1. Saturday, Caturday

We have the cutest baby animals ever (okay fine, we may be a tad biased). Have you met our little lioness Bahati? Head over to the lion exhibit first thing in the morning, and you might see her exploring. Believe us, she’s more entertaining than any internet cat video.

2. Get wild on a Backstage Safari

Sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour filled with up close encounters to make any animal lover swoon. This 90-minute tour lets you feed an elephant and a penguin as well as interact with some of our dynamic animal ambassadors (yes – that tamandua does like avocado as much as you!). All proceeds from Backstage Safaris go directly to our wildlife conservation efforts, helping to protect species and restore habitats around the world. Win-win!

3. Photo Ark photo op

We have an entire tunnel and dozens of kiosks with selfie-sized photos from the National Geographic Photo Ark, captured by photographer Joel Sartore. We promise you’ll score some likes if you snap a selfie with one of these animals. Use hashtag #SaveTogether. (Photo credit: Caitie Thrower)

4. Giraffe feeding

Have you ever touched a giraffe? We know some people with a bunch of lettuce and kale that can make that happen. You may even get a lick from Tebogo. #Goals.

5. Amazing monorail views

Take a rest. We’re the largest zoological park in Texas, and that means lots of walking. Grab a seat on our newly renovated Adventure Safari monorail, and travel on a one-mile loop that takes you to five African habitats you can’t see by foot. In addition to bird’s-eye animal views, you’ll also get a few glimpses of the Dallas skyline.

6. Hippo hype

If you haven’t met our new hippos Adhama and Boipelo, you’re missing out. Check out a keeper chat at 11:15 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., and you might even see them in action during a training session. Trust us – you’ll wanna ‘Gram it when their mouths are hope wide or they wiggle their ears. Not to mention, the underwater viewing window will bring you face-to-snout with these barrel-rolling hams – have your camera ready!

7. Two words – chicken fingers

Our new Coop on the Fly food truck is serving up some serious down-home, fried goodness, and you don’t want to miss out on chicken fingers and tater tots.

8. Cheers and chill

If that isn’t enough, we’ve got cold beer on tap from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at locations near the flamingo pond in ZooNorth and by the monorail station in the Wilds of Africa, as well as the craft beer garden and brand new lounge on Cat Green. So sit back, relax, and have a sip of local flavor or a classic favorite.

9. Safari Nights

Safari Nights Powered by Breeze Energy means live music at sundown on shady Cat Green – you bring the lawn chair, we’ll bring the tunes. This Saturday at 7 p.m., we’ve got The O’s playing some catchy, acoustic pop tunes that anyone can dance to – don’t worry, the animals won’t judge! Concerts are every Saturday through July 15.

10. Cabana life

It’s Texas, and it’s hot! Avoid the back sweat, and spend a steamy summer night chilling out with your crew in one of our reservable cabanas, complete with chairs, fans, and water during Safari Nights!

And the very best part is that your adventure helps support conservation efforts around the world! That’s right, a portion of your admission goes to our conservation partners in order to save wildlife and protect the environment. So, have some fun and do some good this Saturday!

Categories: Conservation, Lion, Monorail Safari, Photography, Safari Nights, Simmons Hippo Outpost, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dallas Zoo’s popular monorail reopens Friday after major renovation

The renovated monorail has an all-new look, in addition to air-conditioned cars.

The renovated monorail has an all-new look, in addition to air-conditioned cars.

Our beloved people-mover finally reopens to guests Friday, March 25, after an extensive renovation. The renamed Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail underwent a $3 million overhaul with updated electrical and mechanical systems, train station, air-conditioning onboard, and more.

During its initial 25-year run, our monorail served nearly 4 million guests, making it one of the most popular experiences at the Zoo.

“Our monorail was a workhorse for 25 years, but it was time to give it some much-needed attention,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. “The renovation took longer than we anticipated because of the complexity of rebuilding such a unique treasure. We appreciate the community’s patience, and know everyone will love visiting the animals and features they’ve missed, like the waterfall.”

The monorail includes three low-speed electric trains, each with 13 cars. The renovation includes:

  • Upgraded electrical and mechanical components.
  • Air-conditioning for passenger cars. (One train complete with AC, two other trains to be completed by early summer.)
  • Addition of a diesel-powered “tug” to bring trains back to the station in the event of a power failure, eliminating the need for passenger disembarkation along the route.
  • Renovation and beautification of the boarding station, including new ramps, handrails and automatic gates.
  • New paint and graphics.
  • New sound system for each train and the train station.
  • Two new bird exhibits inside the monorail station.

Monorail tickets are $5 each. Free monorail rides are included with certain levels of membership.

Our monorail, one of only a few in the nation, is rare because it runs uphill and downhill. The inclines are necessary because the zoological park sits on a hilly, heartland prairie forest.

The trains ease along at 3-4 mph on a one-mile loop around the back side of the 106-acre zoo, showing visitors six habitats not accessible by foot: mountain, woodlands, river, arid, semi-arid and bush. It also circles above the Chimpanzee Forest, crocodile pond and Penguin Cove. Other animal residents that can be viewed from the monorail include nyala, gerenuk, lesser kudu, ibex, oryx, eland, vultures, storks, addax, bongo and red river hogs.

The monorail has been closed since August 2014, when an Oncor power surge outside of the zoo burned out an electrical part aboard one of the trains. While the train was just 12 feet off the ground, we exercised extra caution and asked Dallas Fire crews to help remove 48 passengers. It was the third time in three years that fire crews had responded after stoppages.

The trains are designed with multiple “fail-safes,” which keep them from moving in the event of an electrical issue, such as a power surge or breaker burnout. All three stoppages were the result of these features. However, stoppages are unacceptable to us, and after the August incident, the decision was made to shut down the system for the evaluation.

After an extensive assessment, electrical and structural specialists and engineers concluded that the monorail was in good condition, with only minor issues. Like a 25-year-old car, however, it needed more attention than a newer model. Replacing the monorail completely would be very costly. In 1990, it cost $20 million to build, and that number would have been significantly higher today.

Enjoy this video of a few of the sights along the route.

Categories: Exhibits and Experiences, Monorail Safari | Tags: | Leave a comment

Monorail Safari to get a complete renovation

The renovated monorail will have an all-new look, as shown in this graphic of the train over the Nile crocodile habitat, in addition air-conditioned cars.

The renovated monorail will have an all-new look, as shown in this graphic of the train over the Nile crocodile habitat, in addition air-conditioned cars.

The Dallas Zoo will completely overhaul the popular Monorail Safari, updating electrical and mechanical systems and adding air-conditioning, with a goal of reopening the people-mover this summer.

After an extensive, months-long evaluation, electrical and structural specialists and engineers concluded that the monorail is in good condition, with only “minor issues.” Like a 25-year-old car, however, it needs more attention than a newer model.

“Our monorail has performed incredibly well for 25 years, serving nearly 4 million guests,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. “It’s a safe experience, with not a single injury in that time. But we want to provide only the best experience for our guests, and this renovation is necessary to do that.”

The $3 million project, scheduled to be finished by early summer, includes:

  • Upgraded electrical and mechanical components.
  • Air-conditioning for passenger cars.
  • Addition of a diesel-powered “tug” to bring trains back to the station in the event of a power failure, eliminating the need for passenger disembarkation along the route.
  • Renovation of the boarding station and ramps.
  • New paint and graphics.

The Monorail Safari includes three low-speed electric trains, each with 13 cars. The trains ease along at 3 mph on a one-mile loop around the back side of our 106-acre zoo, allowing visitors to see six habitats not accessible by foot: mountain, woodlands, river, arid, semi-arid and bush. Going through the waterfall on a hot day is a favorite experience. It also circles above the Chimpanzee Forest, Nile crocodile pond and Penguin Cove.

The Monorail Safari crosses under its cool waterfall in August 1990, soon after it opened. Nearly 4 million people have ridden the monorail in its 25-year history.

The Monorail Safari crosses under its cool waterfall in August 1990, soon after it opened. Nearly 4 million people have ridden the monorail in its 25-year history.

It’s extremely popular with our visitors, with more than 250,000 riders each year. Free monorail rides are included with certain levels of membership.

“Believe me, since August we’ve heard from thousands of our guests, and they want it back,” Hudson said. “And so do we. But like every other decision, we had to make it in a fiscally responsible way.”

The monorail, one of only a few in the nation, is rare because it runs uphill and downhill. The inclines are necessary because the Dallas Zoo sits on a hilly, heartland prairie forest.

Zoo officials closed the monorail in August after an Oncor power surge outside of the zoo burned out an electrical part aboard the Elephant train, stranding 48 passengers. While the train was just 12 feet off the ground, we exercised extra caution and asked Dallas Fire crews to assist. It was the third time in three years that fire crews had responded after stoppages.

The trains are designed with multiple “fail-safes,” which keep them from moving in the event of an electrical issue, such as a power surge or breaker burnout. All three stoppages were the result of these features. However, stoppages are unacceptable to us, and after the August incident, the decision was made by zoo officials to shut down the system for the evaluation.

The monorail has remained closed for the winter season, as we worked to put together financing for the overhaul. Replacing the monorail completely would be very costly. In 1990, it cost $20 million to build, and that number would be significantly higher today.

Categories: Exhibits and Experiences, Guest Services, Monorail Safari | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Monorail Safari remains closed for in-depth assessment

blg_MonorailWaterfallThe Monorail Safari will remain closed while the Dallas Zoo brings in outside experts to collaborate on a top-to-bottom evaluation of the popular people-mover, which serves more than 200,000 visitors each year.

The monorail halted Wednesday after an off-site voltage surge from an Oncor feeder line. The heat was not a factor, nor did the train malfunction; it’s designed to stop after a significant power event. The 48 passengers and the driver climbed down 12-foot ladders. The evaluation will explore why the train remained stopped after the power supply was restored and examine the overall electrical systems and components of the entire monorail.

“Our emergency plan worked exactly as it should have Wednesday during this unfortunate incident,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. “However, as one of the nation’s leading zoos, we won’t rest until we get answers about anything that affects our visitors’ experience. This comprehensive evaluation will give us the information we need to decide about the monorail moving forward.”

The zoo has reached out to several firms specializing in public conveyances and anticipates having a contract signed next week. The evaluation is expected to take several weeks.

Zoo members may exchange their monorail coupons for free rides on the Safari Express mini-train on Picnic Ridge.

The Monorail Safari includes three low-speed electric trains, each with 13 cars that move at 3 mph. It runs on a one-mile loop around the back side of the 106-acre zoo, allowing visitors to see six habitats not accessible by foot: mountain, woodlands, river, arid, semi-arid and bush. It also circles above the Chimpanzee Forest, Nile crocodile pond and Penguin Cove. It’s one of just a few in the nation that goes uphill and downhill; the inclines are necessary because the Dallas Zoo sits on a hilly, heartland prairie forest.

The 24-year-old monorail has been upgraded through the years with updated components, including the electrical system and the 12 motors that propel each train. These efforts have extended the monorail’s lifespan significantly. Repairs and updates are performed by the zoo’s experienced eight-member team of mechanical and electrical experts, which also works with outside consultants as needed.

“Our monorail team is experienced and creative,” Hudson said. “Most have been working with this train for more than a decade, so they’ve very familiar with it. Their hard work is the reason why millions of visitors have been able to experience the Monorail Safari over the past 24 years. We are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that our guests are not inconvenienced by another unexpected stoppage.”

Categories: Exhibits and Experiences, Guest Services, Media, Membership, Monorail Safari | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brought to you by the Dallas Zoo