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2017 Feather, Fur and Scales photography contest winners

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!

 

Grand Prize: Bob Peterson
Grand Prize: Bob Peterson
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Dallas Zoo to close historic Cat Row, says goodbye to Texas cats

Bobcat Rufus was once a wild cat who was rescued by the Dallas Zoo in 2001.

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.

Mountain lion Apollo will remain with his best pal Lakai in their new Bridgeport, Texas home.

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.

Ocelot Joaquin and his mate Milagre will stay together at the Audubon Zoo.

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.

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Saving sea turtles in South Texas

 

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.

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Introducing Dallas Zoo Lights, a bright new holiday celebration

 

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.

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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!

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