We were in Dallas babysitting our two grandkids and the forecast called for an unusually warm and sunny January day, so I promised the grandkids the night before that we would take them to the Dallas Zoo. At what felt like 2:00 in the morning I heard "Dukie, get up - we're ready to go to the Dallas Zoo - hurry!" With sleep in the eyes I jumped in the shower and was ready to go in 10 minutes and we were out of the house at 8:15! That early, I figured that we would be the only ones at the Zoo but to my surprise at least 100 cars had beat us. We found a parking spot about 100 yards from the entrance and set off for a fun day at the Dallas Zoo - and we had a blast.
Here are just a few reasons why I can highly recommend the Dallas Zoo, which was named one of the Nations "Top Ten Zoos" by USA Today:
As soon as we walked in I heard "Let's go see the gorillas and elephants" - so we walked through the tunnel to Wilds of Africa. What a really cool area with everything from an aviary to zebras - giraffes, ostrich, lions, cheetah, gorillas, crocodiles, chimpanzees, and more. All together that are 13 very well done exhibits all of which resemble the animals natural habitat. Some of what I really liked in Wilds of Africa included:
After a couple hours in Wilds of Africa we went back under the tunnel to ZooNorth and the first stop was to re-fuel with a huge bag of popcorn and to plan our route to make sure that we didn't miss anything. ZooNorth is huge and home to over 20 different exhibits and attractions. Our first stop with the Children's Zoo with lots of fun things for the younger kids - a stream to wade in, petting zoo, pony rides, barn animals, birds, and the Discovery House.
And for the next two or three hours we saw: the Wings of Wonder (a variety of unique birds - eagles, vultures, etc.); the gigantic Galapagos Tortoise; a giant anteater; Texas Cats (bob cats, mountain lions, and more); the reptiles and amphibians in the Herpetarium which is home to at least 100 small exhibits for snakes, spiders, lizards, and lots of other creepy stuff; some Australian animals like a koala, emu, kangaroo, and wallaby; Bug U where the Zoo's Texas invertebrates live; tigers; otters; a couple cages with primates; a majestic tiger, and Nature Connects.
Nature Connects is where the kids (for a fee) can ride the T-Rex Express train or play with legos in the tented Stay and Play Brickyard which is presented by LEGOLAND Discovery Center. In the Brickyard, kids of all ages can build, experiment, problem-solve, and connect with science, technology, engineering, and math. Each week, master builders and LEGO enthusiasts will be on hand, challenging children to recreate the pros’ nature-themed models while teaching youngsters how to build sculptures that connect to nature. We also got to see a remarkable traveling sculpture show featuring the wizardry of award-winning artist Sean Kenney. Created from more than 700,000 LEGO bricks, the larger-than-life sculptures include an 8-foot-tall hummingbird frozen in flight; a 7-foot-wide peacock displaying its colorful feathers; a gardner and boy made with over 46,000 LEGOS; a playful polar bear family created from an impressive 133,263 bricks; a wheelbarrow; and more. The exhibit is only at the Zoo for four months.
ZooNorth at the Dallas Zoo is outstanding and it's hard to pick a few things that really stood out, but here are my favorites:
The daily Keeper Talks included Macaw, snakes, birds, a tiger, and a koala. We missed the Cheetah encounter but did watch an enjoyable 30 minute show in the Amphitheater called DinoSOAR where trained birds soar, swoop, and dive as they perform aerobatic feats during the SOAR. Hawks, owls, toucans, hornbills, ibises, ravens, eagles, and others demonstrate natural behaviors as they fly through the audience. One bird flew from the stage to a guest toward the back of the Amphitheater, grabbed the dollar bill he was holding, and flew back and deposited in a donation box. At the end of the show you could walk up to the donation box with some money in your hand and the bird would grab it and stuff in the donation box.
After all of that walking and watching the animals grazing, I was starting to get hungry and the Dallas Zoo offers several choices:
Some of the special adventures and services the Dallas Zoo offers includes:
What a fun day at one of the best zoos in Texas.