We’ve been members to the Dallas Zoo for years, and we go almost weekly, especially during the summer. I’ve got lots and lots of tips for making your visit, be it once a week or once a lifetime, the best it can be!
Know Before You Go
Download the Dallas Zoo FREE App! Search “Dallas Zoo” on your android or i-phone.
Check the daily schedule for Keeper Talks, and don’t miss them!
Outside food and drinks are welcome.
Parking is $8
Wilds of Africa
One of the toughest decisions you’ll face at the zoo is deciding what to do first! We always start our day in the Wilds of Africa, especially during the summer when the cooler temperatures promise to see the animals more active!
The Simmons Hippo Outpost
We had been looking forward to the opening of the new Simmons Hippo Outpost since the Zoo first announced it over a year ago, and we were there on it’s opening weekend to see it! It’s AMAZING!
The zoo’s two new hippos, Adhama and Bipelo, are such fun to watch, and the male, Adhama loves to get up close to the big underwater viewing window and say Hello! Recognized as a good mating pair, the hippos came from different zoos for the Species Survival Plan, with hopes that they will mate. Bipelo, the female, may be smaller, but she’s already keeping Adhama in line!
Don’t miss the keeper talk, daily at 11:15 and 2:30, when they go through the target training with the hippos, feed them yummy yams and lettuce, and answer any questions you may have!
We love watching the zoo’s penguins, especially during their feeding time! In 2015, the zoo hatched their first penguin chick, Marina. In 2016, her family grew when two more chicks were hatched!
Ready to trek through the African Forest, just minutes from Downtown Dallas? The Gorilla Trail at the Dallas Zoo is over a 1/4 of a mile long, and is a fun and factual representation of the regions of Africa, without the need for a passport!
The Gorilla Trail is located in the Wilds of Africa. Visit the restrooms just inside the Giants of the Savannah Exhibit before you start, as there are no restrooms on the trail.
There are (2) one acre gorilla habitats, labeled North and South. In the North Habitat live 3 female gorillas, Madge, Shanta and Megan, which you can view from the first Gorilla Viewing Bunker on the trail.
Madge (born 1981) and her daughter, Shanta, (born 1997) both came from the Cincinnati Zoo in 2011. Madge is the most curious, and usually the first to come “visit” at the window. Shanta can be easily recognized by a small grey spot on her back. Megan (born 2005) has only been at the zoo since February, 2014, coming from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.
Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Station offers an air conditioned respite from the heat, there is also an outside viewing, and large viewing windows inside, along with many educational resources about the zoo’s friendly simians.
One of the biggest factors leading to loss of habitat for the Western Lowland Gorillas may be right in your hand. Coltan, a mineral used in cell phones, lap tops and other electronics, is mined in the Congo. The demand for Coltan is so high that it has created a crisis not just for the gorillas, but a bloody, war-like state for all the inhabitants.
The Dallas Zoo participates in Eco-Cell, a cell phone recycling initiative. By donating your broken or used cell phone, and insisting that any future mobile phone purchases be manufactured with Conflict Free Coltan, we can help reduce the demand, and hopefully the destruction in the Congo.
The South Habitat is the residence of the zoo’s 4 bachelor gorillas, Zola, Jumba, B’wenzi and Shana. B’wenzi was the gorilla whose video went viral a few years ago, as children were taunting him and he ran at the glass, throwing his hands up and startling the unsuspecting kids! B’wenzi often displays comical behavior, to zoo guest and his fellow gorillas, and you usually do not have to wait long for a chuckle.
Next to the Gorilla Exhibit are the Giant Aldabra Tortoises. The 2nd largest tortoise species in the world, they are most active when eating.
The Forest Aviary is a large, walk-in aviary, housing numerous different birds native to Africa. One of my 6-year-olds favorite activities is to find and identify each of the birds on the list, and some take a little searching! My favorite are the Weavers, which build their nest upside down and are fun to watch as they flutter back and forth.
The numerous sculptures along the Gorilla Trail, created by artist Tom Tischler, make for terrific photo ops.
Nine Chimpanzees, including Mishindi, born in January 2014, live in the 19,000 sq. foot Chimpanzee Forest. It’s a treat to see Mishindi, always accompanied by either mother Ramona or big brother Kona.
Don’t miss the Keeper Talk each Saturday and Sunday at 2pm!
Take a small pair of binocular for your kids to get a closer look!
A rock formation of Eastern Africa, the Kopje houses a Leopard tortoise, rock hydrax, klipspringer and meerkats.
The Dallas Zoo offers several different opportunities for overnights at Camp Okapi! Scouts, schools and other organizations can reserve the camp. They also offer Family Campouts once a month. Click HERE for more information.
Elephants on the Savannah
The biggest attraction at the Dallas Zoo is the “Golden Girls”, the zoo’s herd of 4 female African forest elephants. Led by Jenny, the oldest of the elephants, the girls are a thrill to watch!
In March 2016, the Dallas sought to rescue 4 elephants from Africa, who were suffering in the regions extreme drought. Once the elephants arrived, the zoo was surprised that one of them was pregnant! To learn more about all the elephants, click HERE.
On May 17th, the baby elephant was born! While momma and calf are not yet on exhibit, click HERE to watch an adorable video of the baby.
The Elephant Keeper Encounter happens each day, when the elephant keepers come to Base Camp for an informal talk. They entice the elephants to come closer with bits of apples, and it’s fun to watch as they scoop up the apples from the water with trunks, and even trumpet for the fruit! They tell you a little of the history of each of the Golden Girls, who had circus and movie careers before coming to the zoo. They also answer questions about the elephants, and even about working in a zoo!
Simmons Safari Base Camp is located in front of the elephant habitat is Base Camp. You can find it by following the elephant tracks in the walk. Inside Base Camp, zoo volunteers answer questions about the elephants and other animals at the Giants of the Savannah exhibit. Along the back wall, there is a game that test their elephant knowledge, along with 3 videos.
FAMILY restrooms are located in Base Camp.
Guest can get a real sensory experience from seeing and feeling the elephant hiney, also located inside the Base Camp. Careful though, because a button on the back end will provide you with elephant noises, some coming from the trunk, and some not. I’m just glad they don’t try to recreate the smell!
Elephants are disappearing from the earth at 96 a day, mostly due to poaching for their tusk, which is nothing but a tooth. The cast skull show where the tusk emerges from the skull, as well as the elephants other teeth. There is also a cast elephant foot, which seems very petite considering they hold up approximately 5 tons of elephant weight!
This strange looking tree with a stranger name is one of the first things you see when visiting the elephants. A man-made model of the African Strangler Fig, which grows on host trees, eventually killing them. Elephants love to search for food, and to keep them entertained and satisfy some of their explorative nature, the staff will hide snacks in the tree, and all throughout their enclosure. It’s fun to watch as their long, sensitive noses poke and prod through the little nooks in the tree.
Several times a week, the gates separating the elephants and the giraffes, zebras and ostriches are open, making the Dallas Zoo the only zoo in the United States, and one of only 2 in the world, to combine elephants and giraffes. It’s a work in progress, as the animals have been slowly introduced to one another, but it’s a treat to watch how they interact with each other!
While you can’t ride on an elephant at the zoo, you can see what it would feel like when on top of one of the four elephant statues that mark the entrance to the Giants of the Savanna exhibit. Although they are shaded, they do get hot during the summer, so grab your pictures early in the day!
The iconic Elephant Fountain is probably the most photographed place at the Dallas Zoo,
Escape the summer heat with a walk along the shaded Nature Trail, across from Lemur Island! You won’t find any animals, but there is a nice variety of plants, including elephant ears, and it runs along the man-made creek to the elephant fountain!
Have you ever fed a giraffe? We did one day at the Dallas Zoo one day. It’s obvious that the Dallas Zoo loves their giraffes, they have pictures of giraffes on their sign.
Even a statue of a giraffe at the entrance to the zoo.
So we were excited to get a chance to feed them! The giraffes are located in the eleven acre Giants of the Savannah exhibit, and they share their habitat with elephants, zebra and even ostriches. It’s a beautiful place to just sit back and watch them going about their daily routines.
At the Diane and Hal Bierley Giraffe Ridge, I paid $5.00 for 6 special “giraffe” crackers to feed to them. Then I paid another $5, and another, because the kids loved getting to feed them, and even touch them!
When we finished feeding them, we asked about the baby giraffe that was born in 2011. She was the first baby giraffe born at the zoo in over 2 decades, and we have enjoyed watching her grow up! The zoo held a contest to name her shortly after she was born. Out of countless entries, the zoo chose the name, Jamie, after a little 7 month old boy, James, who passed away from a rare brain tumor just days before the baby giraffe was born. His parents entered the name Jaime in the contest, and via their blog, asked others around the state and country to submit the name in his honor. So little Jaime the Giraffe is a wonderful living memorial, as well.
The Giraffe Feeding Station is open 7 days a week, during regular zoo hours. During different times of the day, they offer different types of food, so the giraffes don’t tire of what they are being fed.
The Safari Express is always a hit with kids, as it pulls them around a small loop at the zoo!
The Children’s Zoo
The Children’s Zoo has lots of interactive and fun exhibits for kids, including pony rides, bird feedings, a nature exchange, The Underzone, goats to pet, and the Discovery House.
There is also a terrific little splash area where kids can play!
The entire zoo is a little crazy over the birth of the baby elephant, and you can purchase lots of fun items here!
Not only will you see some amazing, real animals, but the Dallas Zoo also has plenty of Pokemon, also! Click HERE for more information and tips when playing at the zoo!
Things To Do in Dallas (near the Dallas Zoo)
The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is extremely hands on, and kids will love feeding a sting ray! Click HERE to read more!
We love a visit to nearby Bishop Arts District in Dallas, with fun shops and restaurants! My kids love the Dallas Grilled Cheese Company! After a hot day at the zoo, cool off with a yummy treat from Carnival Barkers Ice Cream! Click HERE to visit their facebook page.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Dallas puts you right near all the fun spots to visit in Dallas. Click HERE to visit their website.
650 S R L Thornton Fwy, Dallas
Click HERE to visit their website.
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