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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!

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

‘National Geographic Photo Ark’ exhibition to spotlight endangered species

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The Dallas Zoo and National Geographic are showcasing a one-of-a-kind project through the national launch of a traveling exhibition, “National Geographic Photo Ark,” opening at the Dallas Zoo on Thursday, April 20. Featuring the remarkable work of National Geographic photographer and Fellow Joel Sartore, the exhibition will be on display until Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2017). This exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

The National Geographic Photo Ark is an ambitious project committed to documenting species living in the world’s zoos and other protected areas — inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations. The compelling and visually powerful project aims to photograph species before it is too late.

In addition to creating a wildlife archival record for generations to come, this project is a hopeful platform for conservation and shines a light on individuals and organizations working to preserve species around the world. Sartore has photographed dozens of animals at the Dallas Zoo, from spitting cobras to brilliant birds and Somali wild asses. Last fall, he taught a sold-out seminar to share tips on shooting wildlife with amateur photographers at the zoo.

The Dallas Zoo’s National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition will highlight 80 of Sartore’s most compelling images and provide visitors with the unique opportunity to come face to face with some of the most endangered animals on earth. As one of the 129-year-old park’s continuing efforts to give back to the community, the special exhibition will be free with zoo admission, so guests pay no additional charge.

Artistic rendering of the outdoor Photo Ark display kiosks for zoos. Each structure is 8 feet tall./Rendering by National Geographic Museum

Artistic rendering of the outdoor Photo Ark display kiosks for zoos. Each structure is 8 feet tall./Rendering by National Geographic Museum

The exhibition will include 28 double-sided, larger-than-life kiosks standing 8 feet tall, featuring 56 of Sartore’s iconic photographs of animals in a “hero”-type image on a stark black or white background. His unique shooting style creates beautiful, yet poignant, images that subtly bring home the dangers faced by these species.

In addition, the Dallas Zoo has turned its well-known Giants of the Savanna tunnel into a permanent striking artistic showcase featuring 24 of Sartore’s iconic images. One side of the tunnel has been painted black and the other white, both offering a massive canvas for giant photographs, such as a brightly colored, 7-foot-tall double-eyed fig parrot; a massive flock of monarch butterflies frozen in flight; and a giant panda up-close in all its beauty.

Sartore has worked in more than 250 zoos, aquariums and animal rescue centers around the world, and many of the images featured were taken at the Dallas Zoo. Visitors will learn about the project, its mission and its conservation efforts by the Dallas Zoo, and the exhibition also will engage audiences of all ages through free educational materials and activities.

Sartore estimates the completed National Geographic Photo Ark will include portraits of more than 12,000 species, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. In what will be the largest single archive of studio-quality photographs of biodiversity ever, the National Geographic Photo Ark continues to move toward its goal of documenting these animals, thanks in part to Sartore’s enduring relationships with many of the world’s zoos and aquariums. The iconic portraits have captured the imagination of people around the world

Dallas Zoo's dusky leaf monkey to be featured in National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition./ © Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

Dallas Zoo’s dusky leaf monkey to be featured in National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition./ © Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

and have even been projected on the Empire State Building in New York and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“The National Geographic Photo Ark has already inspired millions around the world with the message that it is not too late to save some of the world’s most endangered species,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of Exhibitions, National Geographic Society. “Joel Sartore has demonstrated what one man can do using the power of photography—and now National Geographic wants to inspire people all over the country to contribute to this global challenge.”

“This visually stunning project really highlights the weight of what we are in danger of losing, and reinforces the important role zoos play in saving these incredible animals,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. “We’ve welcomed Joel into our habitats and barns for years, and his work never fails to amaze.”

The exhibitions accompany a new National Geographic book, The Photo Ark (National Geographic Books; $35), and a children’s book, Animal Ark (National Geographic Kids Books; $15.99), which will be available for purchase in the zoo’s Zoofari Market.

A documentary series on Sartore’s work, RARE – Creatures of the Photo Ark, will also premiere on PBS in July. Learn more at NatGeoPhotoArk.org and join the conversation on social media with #SaveTogether.

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Dallas Zoo proudly restores habitat for endangered birds

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

Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Action Team returned to the Big Thicket National Preserve to plant longleaf pines with the National Park Service. Our team of 15 students and five adults helped reforest 300 acres of habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. These students are Dallas Zoo youth volunteers from cities across our region, and they are passionate and committed to helping animals in every way they can. Many have already invested over 100 hours in wildlife conservation through service as Junior Zookeepers and Conservation Guides in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo.

The Big Thicket National Preserve set a goal of planting 100,000 trees in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. We’re proud to say we helped them exceed their goal with our 11,000 contribution in 2016, and the additional 10,000 trees planted this month. Dallas Zoo is proud to partner with the conservation heroes of the National Park Service.

Photo of a red-cockaded woodpecker by Holly Dolezalik.

Photo of a red-cockaded woodpecker by Holly Dolezalik.

One of the most important reasons we’re helping plant these trees is to restore habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker. We have already lost America’s two largest woodpecker species, the ivory-billed woodpecker and the imperial woodpecker, to extinction due to rampant and unregulated logging. By the 1950s, they were gone. Some of the last photos of the ivory-billed woodpeckers were taken in 1938 as the population collapsed. You can see the only known videos of the imperial woodpecker here and here.

By restoring wildlife habitat, we are making conservation history with the hope of avoiding another woodpecker extinction. Red-cockaded woodpeckers were listed as endangered in 1970. Since 1988, they’ve been moved from threatened to vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but there’s still plenty of work to do. No strategy to save animals is complete without a focus on habitat loss and the work to restore it.

The red-cockaded woodpecker is a small bird without brilliant plumage or spectacular display, but with a social system as complex as any North American animal, more like a primate than a bird. Like all woodpeckers, red-cockadeds are primary excavators creating cavities that form the foundation of the habitat web. This woodpecker creates shelter for more than 27 vertebrate species.

Volunteer Lilly has vowed to return to the Big Thicket when she's 93 years old to see the trees' growth.

Volunteer Lily has vowed to return to the Big Thicket when she’s 93 years old to see the trees’ growth.

These birds primarily rely on old-growth, longleaf pines for shelter, nesting, and food. This means that even though we’re working hard to get these trees planted, it could be up to 80 years down the road before they’re move-in ready for these birds. Wildlife conservation is long-term investment and demonstrated faith in the future! Our 13-year-old volunteer Lilly Zimmermann promised she’d return when she’s 93 to admire our planting work and remember our trip fondly.

Over 90 million acres of longleaf pine forest once stretched across the American south, but they’re pretty rare today. Beginning in 1940, vast areas of public and private land were converted to short-rotation forestry and now less than 10,000 acres of old-growth, longleaf pine remain. Restoring habitat is the most important action we can take to create a better world for this animal.

At the Dallas Zoo, we care deeply for animals and we know our members, guests, and volunteers do, too. Every forest protected, every waterway restored, every endangered species saved begins with us. Every action counts. Thanks for supporting us in all we do to create a better world for animals.

Join us on our next Wild Earth Action Team expedition on March 3 – 5 for a once in a lifetime opportunity at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi. It’ll be a weekend filled with conservation action, and saving whooping cranes.

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Dallas Zoo’s holiday gift guide

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Shopping for that special someone who has everything? Fret no more. The Dallas Zoo has unique and special gifts that are guaranteed to surprise and delight the hardest person to shop for.

Hippo habitat brick

Give the gift that lasts forever with a commemorative hippo brick. The Simmons Hippo Outpost opens this spring and you can leave your permanent mark on the exhibit with a custom-engraved brick. Prices begin at $500 and can include up to 108 characters of engraved text to honor your friend or family. Your purchase also includes an invitation to a special opening event. Buy your brick now!

Photo Safaris

sl_photosafari2017The amateur photographer in your life needs a special Dallas Zoo Photo Safari! Join staff photographer Cathy Burkey for one of our special programs tailored to photography enthusiasts. We have sessions for every interest: group or private Photo Safaris, and overnight Photo Safaris that include dinner, breakfast and sleeping accommodations on Zoo grounds. Click here to register for a Photo Safari or contact Cathy Burkey at Cathy.Burkey@DallasZoo.com for more details.

Membership

Does your family love learning, animals and fun activities? (Please say yes!) A Dallas Zoo membership may be the perfect gift for your family. Memberships start at $89 and always includes free parking, free admission, a free subscription to our member magazine and discounts at our restaurants and gift shop. Buy your gift membership now!

Adopt-An-Animal

Celebrate a passion for wildlife and give the gift of animal adoption at the Dallas Zoo. Baby elephant Ajabu is this month’s special feature! Your support helps provide habitat, lifestyle and environmental enhancements for the animals in our care.  Each adoption includes a personalized certificate, zookeeper’s report and an invitation to a special event at the Zoo. Pick an animal to adopt now!

camps-giftguideSpecial Zoo experience

Give the gift of a memorable experience for the special youngster in your life. Special programs like the Junior Rancher Adventure, Snowfari Winter Camp, overnight programs, or Family Zoo Adventures give kids young and old experiences unlike any other.

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Dallas Zoo partners with SPCA of Texas to create a better world for all animals

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You may often hear the Dallas Zoo advocate for declining species on faraway continents, but this past weekend we partnered with SPCA of Texas to help our four-legged friends right here in our backyard.

With SPCA of Texas’ surgery vehicle setup in our East parking lot, we’re proud to share our spay and neuter weekend succeeded in helping dozens of dogs and cats in our neighborhood. Nearly 40 pets from three underserved ZIP codes in South Dallas received a free spay or neuter, 45 pets were vaccinated, and an additional 45 animals were signed up for surgery in the near future. As a bonus, people who brought their pets in for services also received free tickets to the Zoo!

“When it comes to animals, it’s not just wildlife that we’re passionate about,” said Sean Greene, Dallas Zoo’s vice president of Guest Experiences. “We care about all animals, and partnering with a great organization like the SPCA of Texas is a wonderful opportunity for us to help our community. We are happy to play a role in efforts that create a better world for animals.”

SPCA of Texas is widely known for helping pets find loving homes and providing them with exceptional care. It’s estimated that just in the three ZIP codes SPCA of Texas focused on for this event, more than 17,000 dogs and 23,000 cats are not spayed or neutered. This weekend made a direct difference in helping our surrounding pet population stay healthy._mg_6309-6x6

“The SPCA of Texas is pleased to have partnered with the Dallas Zoo this past weekend as we brought out our brand new Mobile Spay/Neuter Vehicle to provide free surgeries and vaccinations to our community,” said Maura Davies, SPCA of Texas’ vice president of Communications. “Parking our mobile clinic at the Zoo benefited people and pets alike, as the ability to take this clinic on the road makes it easy for people to provide these critical services to their pets, ensure a healthy community, and prevent pet overpopulation. Thanks to the Dallas Zoo for partnering with the SPCA of Texas to help make our community a great place for pets and people!”

With an incredibly successful weekend and a positive response from local residents, this is certainly the beginning of a meaningful partnership with the SPCA of Texas that’ll continue to serve our community and its animals.

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