Author Archives: Dallas Zoo

Dallas Zoo featured in 10-hour Animal Planet Facebook Live marathon

Update: Thanks to everyone that tuned in LIVE. See our Two segments at the links below:
See Amani and Winspear run in our Cheetah Encounter!
See Tebogo at our giraffe feeding platform! (Our segment begins at 2:35:00.)

The Dallas Zoo is joining a beast of a lineup Thursday, March 1, as Animal Planet partners with 15 zoos and aquariums across the country for “Inside The Zoo” – a 10-hour Facebook Live marathon giving viewers up-close access to the work of AZA-accredited institutions.

The swarm of live-streaming begins Thursday, March 2 at 8 a.m. CST and will run for 10 hours. The Dallas Zoo will go live on Animal Planet’s Facebook page from 10:30-10:45 a.m. featuring its iconic giraffe herd, and again from 3:15-3:30 p.m. with its popular dog and cheetah duo, Amani and Winspear.

Throughout the marathon, animal care professionals and experts will interact with animals and answer viewer questions, while discussing the mission and priority of all zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – conservation of species in the wild.

Viewers watching the Facebook Live event can comment on the stories and ask questions in real time.

“Every day, the animal care professionals at AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos deliver expert care to the animals at their facilities. They also contribute tremendously to species conservation efforts, both locally and around the globe,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the AZA. “With the help of Animal Planet and Facebook, it is exciting to be able to bring a live, inside look at what happens at zoos and aquariums to millions of people.”

During the Facebook Live event, viewers will get sneak peeks at upcoming episodes of Animal Planet’s new series, “THE ZOO,” which takes audiences on a first-ever, in-depth look behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo.

Categories: Conservation | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Dallas Zoo, Dallas Symphony Orchestra bring ‘Music and Motion’ together for students


In a unique partnership that brought music and science alive for students, the Dallas Zoo and Dallas Symphony Orchestra developed a creative new program that melded animals and music, two things kids love but may never have imagined overlapping.

The program – which started at the Zoo to explore how animals move, and ended with soaring compositions at a unique DSO concert – encouraged cross-curricular learning, an interdisciplinary way of teaching that stimulates students to build connections and think in creative new ways.

In January, more than 3,000 students attended the culmination of this partnership, a “Music and Motion” youth concert featuring famous animal-themed music, along with orchestral arrangements of animal-inspired melodies composed by local students.

(Listen to the introduction to the performance.)

“Cross-curricular learning deepens the experience for students and can create connections that make learning real for them,” said Marti Copeland, Dallas Zoo’s director of Education. “Music stimulates the mind, and this program also incorporated movement, which has been shown to enhance brain activity. When students are doing something they are interested in or enjoy, they are ready to learn.”

Students kicked off the program in September with a special Animal Adaptations Tour, guided by Zoo educators. They observed animal movements, which were then related to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in Science through adaptations and physical traits used for survival. Students met a variety of animal ambassadors as they also searched for musical inspiration, including ocelots, flamingos, kangaroos, koalas, spider monkeys, and even Rufus – the Zoo’s illustrious bobcat.

“It was exciting to see the students in front of an exhibit and hear them talk about what they saw,” said Anna Lewis, the Dallas Zoo’s camp coordinator. “I loved seeing them try to move like the animals and make connections from one exhibit to another.”

Following the tour, Dallas Symphony Orchestra teaching artists led an interactive music composition workshop at the Zoo. Students were steered through the creative process, learning how to apply their observations of animal movements to write melodies.

A number of these original melodies, including “Leaping Kangaroos,” “Stalking Bobcats,” “Swinging Spider Monkeys” and more, then were selected and arranged for full orchestra by DSO Education Director Jamie Allen. The combined excerpts formed the single “Music and Motion” composition featured in youth concerts performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in January.

“I always enjoy seeing the ‘aha’ moment when that light bulb of inspiration hits,” Allen said. “We wanted to adapt the idea of music to animals in order to expand children’s minds, because learning doesn’t happen in silos. That’s just not how kids think.”

At the “Music and Motion” premiere, groups of DFW students were abuzz with excitement in the Meyerson Symphony Center as DSO Assistant Conductor Ruth Reinhardt introduced a flurry of animal-inspired pieces. Students heard the Dallas Symphony Orchestra perform such movements as Saint-Saën’s “Carnival of the Animals,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and Mancini’s “Pink Panther.”

(Listen to the Music and Motion performance.)

But the highlight of the afternoon was the world premiere of “Dallas Zoo Melodies.” Local student-composers enthusiastically clapped, cheered, and imitated their favorite animals as they heard their works come alive.

“The students who participated in the ‘Music and Motion’ program at the Zoo were very engaged throughout the experience,” Copeland said. “They were so creative in coming up with a rhythm and melody for each type of animal movement. When I heard the world premiere of ‘Dallas Zoo Melodies’ at the Meyerson this week, I enjoyed picking out the different animal-inspired melodies. The ‘Stalking Bobcat’ tune has stayed in my head for days!”

Love learning and animals? Find out more about the Dallas Zoo’s amazing classroom programs and partnerships  today!

Categories: Education | 1 Comment

Nests 101: Building a home out of ANYTHING

IMG_2819 Wattled Crane on nest CS

Bird keeper Eric Lutomski guest blogs on ZooHoo!

IMG_8272-GoldenTaveta Weaver-CBEveryone knows birds build nests, but not everyone realizes just how many different kinds of nests there are! Nests can be as small as a teacup or as large as a dinner table and can be plainly out in the open or carefully hidden away.

Nests are constructed from all sorts of materials like carefully woven fibers or large tree limbs. Sometimes birds use even unusual materials, like saliva for glue or spider webs for camouflage. Many birds don’t make nests out of anything at all—their eggs are instead laid in burrows underground, inside a hollow tree or log, or even on a well-shaped ledge of rock.

Here at the Dallas Zoo, letting birds build their nests is a very enriching and stimulating experience. It lets the birds perform their natural behaviors like location selection, material gathering, and nest construction.

_MG_1200-Spoonbill chick and mom-CBIn many species, building the nest is part of courtship between males and females and is important for breeding success. Ideally, all birds at the Zoo would be able to build their own nest, but sometimes they get a bit of help from the zookeepers.  It can be anything from extra grass or sticks to mesh platforms for support structures.  We want to ensure that eggs or chicks don’t fall out of the nests.

Large birds like vultures, eagles and storks don’t like to nest on the ground, so keepers provide them with elevated platforms and lots of sticks of many shapes and sizes that the birds can weave together to form their nests.

Songbirds and other small birds, like jays and pigeons, prefer their nests to be bowl shaped.

Many birds like hornbills, lorikeets and cranes nest in tree cavities or other secluded locations like burrows or tall grasses, so keepers provide boxes for them so they can nest in privacy.

So next time you visit the Zoo, take a careful look! Is there a nest hiding in any of the exhibits? Where are they? What birds might be using them? Remember that you can take this knowledge home with you and build your own nest box for the birds in your neighborhood. (Bird Houses are nest boxes, too!)

Categories: Birds, Zookeepers | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Pint-sized Texas Longhorns delighting Children’s Zoo guests



It may not be the Starship Enterprise, but the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is the perfect home for the newest animal additions: Captain and Kirk. These two miniature Texas longhorns are settling in nicely to their home and guests couldn’t be happier.

Miniature longhorns are a relatively new breed and came about through selective breeding of full-sized longhorns. These smaller longhorns are gentle and docile, making them the perfect addition to the Children’s Zoo.

The minis joined us in November, but until just recently were nameless as they integrated into the Children’s Zoo and began working with keepers. Former U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk remedied that situation.

IMG_6427Kirk, a former Zoo board member and long-time supporter, won the naming rights to the longhorns at the Zoo To Do gala late last year. Kirk enlisted his daughters to help name the calves. And he admits he’s never seen an episode of Star Trek.

The minis are eight months old and weigh 200-250 pounds. Fully grown, they’ll weight 400-500 pounds and stand up to four feet tall. For now, their signature horns are more like stubs, but over the next two years they’ll grow and have similar proportions to their full-size longhorn brethren.

Guests can see Captain (he’s the larger of the two with mostly black hair) and Kirk at the Children’s Zoo red barn. Those that want an up-close encounter with Captain and Kirk should sign up for the new Junior Rancher Adventure program, where they’ll get to interact with and feed the longhorns.

Live long and prosper, Captain and Kirk!

Categories: Children's Zoo (Lacerte Family) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A hugely successful year with AAZK

Russell Pharr, elephant keeper and president of the American Association of Zookeepers Dallas chapter, guest blogs on ZooHoo!

IMG_6203 SFRTwenty-sixteen was a very successful year for the Dallas American Association of Zookeepers Chapter!  We hosted a huge range of great events and, while having an amazing time, helped make the world a better place for animals.

Join us as we take a look back at 2016:

Bowling and Sailing for Rhinos

IMG_6113 SFRThis was our 25th year participating in the 26-year-old Bowling for Rhinos program, and our fifth year partnering with Alley Cats in Arlington.  In addition to bowling, arcade games, miniature golf, and laser tag, we debuted a BFR photo booth, had a bowling pin decorating contest for the second consecutive year, and hosted our first-ever takeover on Dallas Zoo’s Facebook to help promote the event!

Most importantly, Bowling for Rhinos in Dallas raised $18,000 – 100% of which goes directly to save rhinos, cheetahs, and other animals in Kenya and Indonesia. Nationally, AAZK chapters in the U.S. and Canada raised over $600,000 – an all-time record!

Our one-of-a-kind Sailing for Rhinos event raised $6,000 to help AAZK causes. We continued our partnership with Corinthian Sailing Club and had great weather once again for one of our favorite events.

Labor Day Book Sale

Our annual book sale broke records this year, raising more than $2,000 over three days of selling used books, DVDs, and other items donated by the Dallas Zoo community. Profits were split between the Okapi Conservation Project (the okapi was our 2016 “featured animal,” decided by a staff vote in our second annual AAZK March Madness contest) and the Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas. Our book sale continued a partnership between Dallas AAZK and the Zoo’s Enrichment Committee as we sold animal-painted magnets and bookmarks, and allowed us the perfect platform to introduce tote bags with our chapter logo printed on them!

Painting with a TwistOther Conservation Events

Our first-ever painting event, the Painting With a Twist for World Giraffe Day in June, not only raised $1,300 for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, but also provided a fun way to honor the memory of Dallas Zoo’s own, late Kipenzi.

Our first-ever Salamander Saturday event in May helped raise funds and awareness for some of nature’s less-appreciated creatures. Our contributed funds also helped the Foundation for Conservation of Salamanders to offer a Texas-specific grant for researchers working on salamanders (and we have some amazing endemic species here)! Read more »

Categories: Conservation, Events, Zookeepers | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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