Posts Tagged With: sea turtle

Saving sea turtles on South Padre Island

Conservation and Community Engagement Intern, Kelly A. Catter guest blogs on ZooHoo!

A volunteer with our Wild Earth Action Team clears large debris from the beachside in South Padre Island, Texas.

Our Wild Earth Action Team recently traveled down to South Padre Island with 50 volunteers, interns and staff from the Dallas Zoo and Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park to remove litter pollution from beaches and dunes in an effort to restore sea turtle nesting habitats.

Plastic and other litter pollution pose a serious threat to the vulnerable sea turtle population.

In just three hours, our team was able to remove 2,238 pounds of litter pollution. It felt great to actually take action and make a difference for wildlife!

The team then explored the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville and enjoyed eco-tours of Laguna Madre and Sea Turtle, Inc.’s new center, where we met the people responsible for monitoring and protecting sea turtle nests and rehabilitating injured sea turtles.

Unfortunately, we did not see a hatchling release – 108 babies hatched at 2:30 am, too early to view – but we did get to observe a night nest check and saw the baby turtles working their way up to the surface through the sand!

We also learned about ways we can help sea turtles in our everyday lives. By reducing plastic use whenever and wherever we can, we’re preventing it from entering our waterways and ending up in the ocean. Even simple things like using reusable grocery bags and straws, recycling and picking up litter rather than walking passed it go a long way to keep wildlife safe. This conservation trip was a huge success, and we all had a wonderful time doing our part to save sea turtles.

Want to get involved? We challenge everyone to pitch in to save sea turtles by pledging to pick up just 10 pieces of litter pollution every Tuesday. Imagine the impact it would make towards creating a better world for animals all the way to the sea. Click here to find more information about the North Texas TenOnTues pledge initiative and make your pledge today.

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

Conservation concerns brought to life with interactive art displays from 9th graders

Conservation concerns about animals may not be top of mind for most teenagers, but the ninth graders at Village Tech High School are far from typical.

The students from the Cedar Hill charter school were challenged this past spring to think deeply about endangered animals for a semester-long project integrating many different school subjects with an end goal of a prototype interactive sculpture.

A partnership with the Dallas Zoo elevated the original challenge by giving the students the opportunity to talk with experts and possibly have their work displayed to the public.

“The Zoo gives the project credibility and an authentic audience,” said Justin Robinson, the director of the Forge, the school lab that brought these projects to life.

By the end of the year, the ninth graders completed four interactive art display prototypes highlighting the ocelot, African elephant, hawksbill sea turtle and western lowland gorilla. These projects used art, engineering, science and more to tell the tale of endangered species.

“We want every project to result in people taking action,” said Dallas Zoo director of Education, Marti Copeland. “[Their work] exceeded my expectations.”

Learn more about each project:

Western lowland gorilla African elephant


The western lowland gorilla team planned to create a gorilla sculpture that looks like it is covered in concrete, emphasizing the habitat destruction that is threatening the animal’s population.


This team created a mechanical sculpture showing the stride of an adult elephant. An integrated 15 minute countdown clock reminds the public how often an elephant is killed in the wild for its ivory.

Ocelot Hawksbill sea turtle


The ocelot team created a sand timer wheel with facts about the carnivore. As you spin the wheel and read the facts about ocelots, the sand timer continually empties, much like the ocelot species in the wild.


The team created a hologram projection of a hawksbill sea turtle swimming. It’s activated with a 3D-printed button. The team tried using living dinoflagellates marine plankton to illuminate the activation button.

The hawksbill sea turtle and African elephant projects were selected by Zoo judges to be scaled up and adapted into public displays at the Children’s Aquarium and Dallas Zoo.

It’s onto the (now) tenth graders to press on with the projects. With the conceptual idea and prototypes created, they must solve more problems like how to scale up the sculptures, make them self-maintaining and safe for the public before eventually debuting the sculptures at the two venues.

Congratulations to the students at Village Tech. We can’t wait to see these larger-than-life projects with important message inside our Zoo and Aquarium gates!

Categories: Conservation, Education | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrate World Oceans Day: WATER you waiting for?

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle, MJ, lives out her life at the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park.

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle, MJ, lives out her life at the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park.

Did you know that oceans make up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface? Or that they’re home to nearly 250,000 known species – with as many as three times that number yet to be discovered and named? June 8 is designated as World Oceans Day, and to celebrate these awesome ecosystems, the Dallas Zoo and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park (our affiliate partner), are highlighting a few of our favorite aquatic animals.

Sea turtles

MJ, our 200-pound loggerhead, was originally found in 2004 when she was one year old, stranded on the beach in South Padre Island, Texas. With injured fins, likely due to a shark bite, MJ was weak, dehydrated and weighed only one pound. Thanks to a concerned beachgoer, MJ was rescued and taken to Sea Turtle Inc., a rescue organization that nursed her back to health and graciously shared her with the Children’s Aquarium in 2013. However, MJ isn’t the only rescued sea turtle at the aquarium! Our hawksbill, another of the seven species of sea turtles, was entangled in a fishing net, causing his right flipper to be amputated. Due to their injuries, neither of our sea turtles were able to be released back into the wild. You can help protect their wild relatives by cleaning up litter on the beach and by avoiding plastic bags, which look like jellyfish to hungry turtles. And when it comes to fashion, never buy authentic tortoiseshell. Hawksbills are the species targeted for their beautiful shells, which has resulted in a significant decline in populations worldwide.

This close-up photo shows the beauty of a hawksbill's shell.

This close-up photo shows the beauty of a hawksbill’s shell.

Brown pelicans

Brown pelicans are the only species of pelican that 's strictly marine in habitat, never found more than 20 miles out to sea or inland on fresh water.

Brown pelicans are the only species of pelican that ‘s strictly marine in habitat, never found more than 20 miles out to sea or inland on fresh water.

Clara, Abigail and Basil are our beautiful, rehabbed brown pelicans who were brought to the Zoo between 2012 and 2013 due to injuries preventing them from being re-released. This species was originally killed for its feathers, which were used for women’s hats and clothing. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt created Pelican Island as part of the establishment of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System – the first time the federal government set aside land for the protection of wildlife. However, the species nearly vanished from North America between the late 1950s and early 1970s due to two harmful pesticides. A ban on DDT and a reduction in Endrin helped the population steadily increase, and by 2009 it was removed from the national endangered species list.

The threats that impact brown pelicans today – and all other ocean life – are pollutants, litter, fishing lines/hooks and humans. Unfortunately, these pelicans are viewed by some as competitors for the fishing market, and as a result, are sometimes shot, including one of our own who sustained significant wing injuries. To keep the brown pelican species healthy, it’s important to keep our oceans clean and free of pollutants and pesticides, and of course harmful fishing gear.

To protect our amazing oceans and their inhabitants, do your part by leaving beaches better than you found them, never littering and always eating sustainable seafood.

Categories: Birds, Conservation | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Brought to you by the Dallas Zoo