The Zoo’s a great place for budding photographers (and experienced ones, too). Our Top Photographer summer camp gives children an opportunity to test out their wildlife photography skills in our 106-acre zoological park. Last month, a group of lucky student campers were trained by our expert staff photographer and given an up-close experience with animals. After two weeks of trekking through the Zoo and patiently waiting for just the right shot, here are some of our winning photos:
Staff photographer Cathy Burkey guest-blogs on ZooHoo!
Our 14th annual Feathers, Fur and Scales Photography Contest brought a new level excitement this year with world-renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore joining as one of our three judges. Knowing Joel’s busy, globe-trotting schedule, it was an honor for us to have him make time to judge our photo entries. He’s one of my most respected photographers, and an incredible supporter of the Dallas Zoo and the AZA community. (Joel debuted his National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition at the Zoo earlier this year!)
Every year, our photography community blows me away with their submissions and this year did not disappoint. Our judges, including Lewis Glaser, Professor and Chair of the Department of Graphic Design at TCU, and The Urban Alternative Director of Communications Heather Lynn, had the difficult job of selecting the winners from all of the amazing submissions in our three categories: adult, teen, and youth.
We honored our winners and their guests with an awards luncheon at the Zoo, where they also received their prizes. We were delighted that a bird keeper from the Abilene Zoo entered the contest, and was chosen as our first place winner in the adult category! Thank you all so much for your submissions. Your photography helps the world connect to our wild world, and could very well inspire our next generation of wildlife heroes.
Below are the winning entries for the 14th annual Feathers, Fur and Scales Photo Contest. Check them out! And if you’re interested in seeing past years’ winners, take a look at our 2014, 2015 and 2016 photographs. Happy shooting!
As we look to continue building updated, naturalistic habitats, we’re closing our oldest animal exhibit located within ZooNorth – Cat Row, featuring our Texas felines.
Our male bobcat, male and female ocelot pair, and male cougar pair will all be relocated to other respected institutions ahead of the closure. The zoo will host a goodbye weekend on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, so guests can say farewell to the beloved animals.
The habitat was originally built in the late 1930s with Federal Works Project Administration (WPA) labor and funding, and Centennial bond money. Over the decades, it has undergone renovations and design improvements, but we’re ready to say goodbye to the small piece of history.
“As one of the nation’s top zoos, we pride ourselves on continuously evolving and building bigger and better habitats for our animals,” said Harrison Edell, Dallas Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Operations and Welfare. “Cat Row doesn’t reflect Dallas Zoo’s progressive philosophy of care. There’s no doubt our cats are well cared for, and live enriched lives here – their home just doesn’t represent our growth and vision, and it’s time for change.”
The five cats will begin moving to their new homes over the next month. The first feline to leave, bobcat Rufus, has an interesting history at the zoo. He was rescued as a young, wild cat in 2001 after he killed three of the zoo’s small antelopes, known as dik-diks.
The Texas Department of Health recommended he be euthanized to test for rabies, but zoo officials urged that the zoo was a great isolation facility, which meant the risk for infection was low. Estimated to be 17 years old, Rufus leaves the Dallas Zoo on Sept. 26 and will retire to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation center in Scottsdale, Arizona.
On Oct. 6, male and female ocelots, Joaquin and Milagre, will head to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Joaquin and Milagre have welcomed two babies together at the Dallas Zoo as part of a pairing through the Ocelot Species Survival Plan. The duo will remain together and continue to provide their valuable genes to the SSP through their breeding recommendation.
As early as late October, bonded mountain lion males, Apollo and Lakai, will move to the nearby Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport, Texas, where they’ll open a new habitat that’s nearly three times the size of their current home. Both cats were rescued as cubs in Canada and are estimated to be around 7 years old. They were brought together at the Dallas Zoo in 2010 and have been inseparable ever since.
“Moving these amazing cats wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s what’s best for them. We’re confident they’ll live safe, healthy lives in their new homes,” said Edell. “We want nothing more than for our guests to fall in love with wildlife in the right setting, and to support us as we find ways to create a better world for animals.”
As we build out our master plan for ZooNorth, we’ll initially use Cat Row as a much-needed extension to our outdoor event space. The zoo’s annual Halloween Nights event returns Oct. 26-29. Then coming to ZooNorth on Nov. 17, the park will transform in the evening into Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant, with nearly one million twinkling lights and illuminated displays, entertainment, arts and crafts, and holiday-themed drinks and snacks. The inaugural Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant spans 33 nights, through Jan. 2.
It takes just one year for trash from DFW to make it into the Gulf of Mexico through storm drains, hurting South Texas’s marine life and other species. Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Action Team (WEAT) is on a Texas-proud mission to restore critical habitat for animals across the state.
The team put in sweat equity and removed 2,750 pounds of litter pollution from the beaches and dunes. They also participated in a sunrise release of 26 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings – the ocean’s most endangered species of turtle.
“Every wildlife habitat restored and every species saved from extinction begins with us. It’s a great feeling to know we have members, guests and volunteers right beside us working to create a better world for animals,” said Ben Jones, dean of the Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Academy and co-leader of the trip.
When the team wasn’t squealing over baby sea turtles or picking up litter, they spent time at Sea Turtle, Inc., helping spruce up the non-profit’s building.
Dallas Zoo staff also proudly presented a check to Sea Turtle Inc. to help the conservationists continue their work to save the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.
Take action at home to protect marine life by reducing your plastic consumption with reusable straws, water bottles and canvas bags; choose to eat sustainably harvested seafood; and help keep litter pollution out of Texas waterways.
The Dallas Zoo will debut a new seasonal tradition starting this November, hosting its inaugural holiday celebration – Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant. This kicks off a three-year relationship with the electricity and home services provider as the signature sponsor of the Dallas Zoo Lights event.
Dallas Zoo Lights will transform the Dallas Zoo into a winter wonderland with nearly one million twinkling lights that illuminate the night sky throughout the holiday season.
Spanning 33 select nights from Nov. 17 through Jan. 2, guests can stroll along a path that covers 25 acres within the Zoo, enjoying an array of light-wrapped trees, overhead and hanging light displays, lighted 2-D decorations, and fantastic 3-D light sculptures. Various lighted vignettes throughout the Zoo will give you the feeling of being transported from an African watering hole within the Zoo to a holiday candy land at the North Pole.
“We are thrilled to announce we’re teaming up with Reliant to bring a distinctive event like Dallas Zoo Lights to the community this holiday season,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. “This is an opportunity for everyone to experience the Zoo in a whole different light, and we’re so grateful Reliant is joining forces with us to start this new holiday tradition. From the dazzling light displays to the nightly holiday entertainment, we’re excited to share our holiday spirit with guests from near and far.”
Designed as an event for all ages, Dallas Zoo Lights will feature:
- holiday music performances,
- a special holiday light show set to music, running multiple times during the evening,
- tasty winter treats for kids and adults (including gourmet donuts, cookies, hot chocolate, and holiday crafted adult beverages),
- crafts and activities for the kids,
- great locations for fun holiday family photos, and
- a carousel and mini-train rides, each lit up by holiday lights.
“The holidays are one of our favorite times of year at Reliant. That’s why we’re excited to bring a new family tradition to Dallas with Zoo Lights,” said Elizabeth Killinger, president of Reliant. “No one knows how to light up the night like Reliant, and we look forward to Zoo Lights bringing out the very best of the holiday season.”
Beginning Nov. 17, Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant is open every Friday through Sunday, as well as select weeknights. The event will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25. This unique holiday event is free with regular Zoo admission, meaning guests can come during the day to walk around and see the animals, and stay for the holiday celebration at night for no additional charge. Guests can also come just for the lighted holiday festivities, which are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening of Dallas Zoo Lights. A special Dallas Zoo Lights event calendar will be available soon on DallasZoo.com with details about dates, nightly entertainment, and other activities, so you can plan your visit.