Sunday, October 6, 2013

Discover the animal in you at Dallas Zoo

Recently, I was invited by the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau to experience Dallas with a group of travel and family writers brought in to explore Dallas attractions. I thought it would be interesting to see how the Dallas CVB presents Dallas to outsiders, so I tagged along for several of their outings.

One of our treks included a trip to the Dallas Zoo. As a Mom, I've taken my son to the zoo a handful of times, but it's been years since I've been there. I tend to think of the zoo as place to entertain little kids but I am thrilled to report that I was proven wrong. The Dallas Zoo is a great venue for adults and children of all ages.

I was struck by the passion zookeepers have for these animals. Our tour guide, Laurie Holloway, spoke of the extreme measures they go to to create a habitat for each animal that is as close to the wild as possible, she spoke about the lengths that zoos around the world go to to track the ancestry of every animal so that when the time comes, they can mate the animals with others best suited to keep their bloodlines pure, and she shared with us the great excitement she and her coworkers take in educating people about the majesty and wonderment of the animal kingdom.  I left the Dallas Zoo with a new-found passion of my own for their work and I can't wait to take my son back so that we can share in the experience together.

The Dallas Zoo has three restaurants on the premises or you can bring in your own cooler and enjoy a meal at one of the many picnic table areas around the park.  The zoo offers many "Keeper Encounters & Trainer Demonstrations" throughout the day.  These sessions allow you to get up-close and personal with many of the animals, ask questions to the zoo keepers and learn something new!  One of my favorite activities was feeding the giraffes at The Diane and Hal Brierley Giraffe Ridge. For $5 you get a handful of romaine lettuce and can gaze eye-to-eye with the tallest animal on land.  Another fun interactive activity is to head to the Bird area and visit the Larikeet Hut. For $2 you'll get a cup of coconut nectar. Enter the bird house and the larikeets will land on you (and I do mean all over you. Your hair, your arms, everywhere!) and drink the nectar from your cup.

October 24-27, take your family to enjoy Halloween Nights. The Zoo is the most naturally frightening place for Halloween! Candy stations, a Monster Mash show, Animal Adventures shows, Professor Magic’s show and more. Tickets are $10 per person (ages 3 and up); DZS members receive a $2 discount per ticket. Parking for this special event is $5 per vehicle; please note that there is no free member parking for this event. Another great day to visit will be November 27, when the zoo offers Dollar Day! $1 admission and $1 treats will be available all day!  The zoo also offers lots of camps, scout programs, homeschool sessions and even a "Lights Out Overnight" slumber party experience!

Looking for a really special experience? If you are a photographer, you will love "Evening Views at the Zoo"  This NEW program allows you to photograph the animals from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. – the magic hours right before sunset! You will receive a special map indicating where these animals are located and will have the freedom to move about the Zoo after the other guests have gone home. Pre-registration is encouraged but on-site registration is available beginning at 5 p.m.  Cost: $30 advanced registration; $40 same day registration.

Visit for more information.