Guest Services

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: , , , , | 5 Comments

Guide to Pokémon Go at the Dallas Zoo

pokemon new

The Dallas Zoo welcomes all Pokémon trainers. We want you to have a fun and especially safe time while looking for the elusive Pikachu or fighting to take over the giraffe statue gym for Team Mystic.

Things to remember while you’re hunting Pokémon at the Zoo:

  • Never, ever cross a barrier or enter animal habitats. Even the strongest Pokémon won’t stand a chance against our animals. For your safety, don’t wander into unauthorized areas or head behind-the-scenes.
  • Stay alert and watch your step, particularly on stairs and pathways. We want all visitors and Pokémon trainers to have a safe experience. We have private security staff and uniformed Dallas Police officers on grounds at all times. And contact any Zoo staff member if you need assistance.
  • Be nice and respect other guests. We have lots of little guests, so please watch where you’re going. Other guests won’t be here to play Pokémon Go, so be courteous and respectful to them.
  • Stay hydrated and take care of yourself. Visit our air-conditioned Guest Services building near Lemur Lookout if you need to take a breather or receive some medical attention.
  • Don’t venture onto Zoo grounds when we’re closed. Our security team is here 24/7 to keep an eye on things. Our gates are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, which is plenty of time to chase those animated critters.
  • Don’t park on the frontage road. Please don’t pull over on the highway frontage road to battle in the gym at the giraffe statue. Instead, pull into the parking lot and take a short walk to our majestic statue-turned-gym.

Here are some quick tips for the expert Pokémon trainers:

  • Keep your smartphone batteries charged by visiting our NRG Street Charge® stations at our Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo and Wilds of Africa Grill.
  • The Prime Meridian Café is a great place to cool off and have a snack. One corner of the dining area is within range of three Pokéstops.
  • There are more than 30 Pokéstops across Zoo grounds and three gyms.
  • Hop on the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail to log some distance, see some Zoo grounds not accessible by foot and maybe find a Pokémon in the African sub-Saharan.
  • Visit in the mid-morning for the best chance of finding some active lures. That’s when we have the most guests flowing in and starting to roam.

And something else really important: look up! Pokémon aren’t the only creatures worth caring about. Turn on the vibration mode, slip the phone in your pocket and take a moment to appreciate the real animals around you.

Have fun, good luck and be sure to share your photos with us on social media! Tag your photos with #DallasPokeZoo and we’ll share some of our favorites.

Categories: Guest Services | 1 Comment

Girl Scout saves tortoise from water bottle

10-year-old Gracie Wakefield saves our tortoise from ingesting water bottle.

10-year-old Gracie Wakefield saves our tortoise from ingesting water bottle.

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.”_MG_0355

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.

Reptile keeper Shana Fredlake

Reptile keeper Shana Fredlake says picking up garbage from the tortoise habitat is an every day task.

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!
Categories: Conservation, Education, Guest Services, Reptiles and Amphibians, Veterinary Care | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Dallas Zoo opens FREE electric vehicle charging station

Thanks to Schneider Electric, the Dallas Zoo is now providing guests a place to charge their electric vehicles (EV) for free.

Dallas Zoo's new EV charging station charges first electric vehicle.

Dallas Zoo’s new EV charging station charges first electric vehicle.

With the installation of the donated EV charging station by Schneider Electric, we are deepening our commitment to sustainability, which is a core part of our conservation and education mission.

The Dallas Zoo is on the leading edge of green initiatives with massive composting efforts, rainwater collection sites, animal and restaurant gardens and more. These EV charging stations represent another impactful sustainability enterprise, and have met a major guest and member request.

“As a conservation organization, Dallas Zoo is always striving to be more sustainable,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo President and CEO. “We appreciate Schneider Electric’s generous donation to install our first EV charging station as it aligns with our sustainability efforts and allows us to provide more options to all our visitors.”

Schneider Electric’s installation is the latest in an ongoing effort to make EV charging stations more accessible to communities across the country to encourage greater EV adoption.

“As one of the top 10 zoos in the nation, and the largest in Texas, we were excited to do our part to enrich the experience of their many members, guests and children,” said Mike Calise, head of Electric Vehicle Solutions North America, Schneider Electric. “Now LEAFs, Volts, BMWs and Teslas can join the ranks of elephants, giraffes, snakes and zebras within their sustainable 106-acre facility. With nearly a million visitors annually, this is a snapshot of a destination center EV charging trend we are promoting throughout the country.”

The level 2 chargers are located near the Zoo’s marquee entrance… and again, charges are FREE!

Categories: Conservation, Guest Services | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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

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