We’ve lived in the Dallas metroplex for three years now. We kept saying, “we need to visit the zoo!”, but we never have. When the Dallas Zoo asked some local bloggers to join them for their #DallasZooBlogs media day, we knew we had to attend and finally cross that ‘staycation’ item off our list.
The hosted day was wonderful and they really made sure we could experience all the zoo offers its guests. We got to partake in some pretty extraordinary activities.
The first was a VIP seating at the Cheetah Encounter. There is also a public viewing area for this, that gives great views as well. But the VIP spot has the extra perk of some fans for the guests. If you’ve been in muggy Texas weather you’ll appreciate that added perk. I want to make a note that if you want to take in this Cheetah Encounter it is in the ZooNorth part of the park NOT in the Wilds of Africa. A HUGE, HUGE thank you to the Dallas Zoo staff who very graciously still let us in for the VIP seating after we failed to read our provided schedule and followed the cheetah signs to the Wilds of Africa, where we realized our mistake at the same time that we were supposed to be meeting in ZooNorth. So we booked it back to ZooNorth arriving just before they let Winspear the Cheetah out, but I digress, let me get back to the encounter itself.
First they let Winspear take a famously fast Cheetah sprint across the yard so we could indeed see EXACTLY how fast a cheetah can run (it’s fast folks, very, very fast). Then we were able to see Winspear quite close up (well as close as possible with chain link between us, because poking a cheetah is not a great idea). It was a really fantastic up close encounter. Don’t miss that in ZooNorth when you’re at the Dallas Zoo.
Next we got to feed (YES, FEED!!) the Galapagos Tortoises.
This is currently not something zoo guests get to do. We were..shall we say..guinea pigs for the Dallas Zoo to see if it’s an activity they may want to add for their guests. I say YES!!
This was the most awesome thing ever.
The tortoise handlers were so patient and answered all our bajillion questions. We probably spent more time there than we were supposed to, but it was just such a neat experience.
These tortoises are just youngins’ at about 20 years old, and all with quite distinctive personalities. My daughter found Yertle the anti-social one off in the corner by himself. Yep my brooding 20 year old found a kinship with him, ha ha!
After that we headed to the Reptile House (because air conditioning y’all!), and all I can say is, I’m thankful for thick enclosures between me and snakes.
That. Is. All.
ZooNorth is FULL of interesting animals. Koalas, Wallabies, Emus, Cranes, Tigers…
You can walk right in among these beautiful birds and for just $1 feed them nectar. They were all full up when we came by, but I was enthralled anyway just watching them hop and fly around their habitat.
While we didn’t have any young ones with us, we did stop at the Children’s Zoo in ZooNorth to take a peek. There are lots of fun things there for little ones to do. The play area is amazing, slides and tunnels and lots of room to get the wiggles out. Plus there is some great shade protection which is so important in Texas.
Besides feeding the tortoises, I have to say I was SO impressed with the Wilds of Africa section of the zoo.
If you want up close and personal with a giraffe the Dallas Zoo is the place to go.
For $5 you can get some lettuce and feed them.
It was pretty amazing to have that giraffe RIGHT THERE, nearly in your face!
The monorail tour takes you through several African wildlife habitats.
One of the other fun things the Dallas Zoo planned for us was a meet and greet in Camp Okapi, with their amazing animal ambassadors 🙂 From snakes, to hissing cockroaches and a big lizard (which I all found a bit anxious about!) to a cute (but stinky!) lesser anteater, porcupine and gorgeous owl. We were able to learn more about some of the creatures the Dallas Zoo cares for and their conservation stories.
So I could write SO much more about our day at the Dallas Zoo, and add a lot more photos too! But those were the highlights of our visit. Let me add a few closing thoughts to our first (but not last!) Dallas Zoo day:
- Don’t miss out on the interactive experiences. The Keeper Talks, the Cheetah Encounter, the Wonders of the Wild show, animal feedings and the monorail. Most are free, some do have a small fee, however the experiences in my opinion are worth the extra money, (and that’s coming from someone who is very thrifty!)
- Pack a lunch. The Dallas Zoo allows guest to bring in their own food (no alcohol is permitted). While both sections have places to eat, if you’re on a budget bring your lunch and snacks and any extra $$ you may have, use toward the monorail or to feed the Lorikeets or Giraffes.
- Don’t worry about traffic and parking. If you don’t want to drive and park (the lot fills up fast), the DART Red Line takes you right to the front gate of the Dallas Zoo.
- Go early when it’s cool. Texas gets hot and humid y’al! Some of the animals seek out shade when the day is at its peak. To get the most bang for your buck for your zoo day, try and go as early as possible when the animals are still ‘fresh’ before they start taking midday naps 😉
- Be prepared to walk. The Dallas Zoo is bigger than you think! Wear comfy shoes and if you have a FitBit, set up a daily challenge with your friends – it’s a good bet you might win the step count for the day!
Stay up to date with photos and videos of the Dallas Zoo animals, read about their conservation success stories; and follow along as they give you an up-close look at what they do at the Dallas Zoo by following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and at ZooHoo.DallasZoo.com.
You can learn more about zoo hours, admission prices and closures at http://www.dallaszoo.com.