We spent the 3rd day of summer vacation visiting the Dallas Zoo! We absolutely love the zoo, and as members, we go often!
The large giraffe sculpture greets you at the entrance to the zoo. We all cheer when we see it from the freeway.
Most of my friends go to the Fort Worth Zoo. While we also love the FW Zoo, and also are members there, I hate that the Dallas Zoo gets overlooked because it really has so much to offer to young children!
A little zoo history (taken straight from their website, so I know it's true)
* The Dallas Zoo was founded in 1888, making it the first zoological park in the Southwest.
* The park covers 106 developed acres! In terms of landmass, it’s the largest zoological park in Texas.
This year my oldest son, Cole, applied for and was accepted as a Junior Zookeeper for the Dallas Zoo. This means that once a week during the summer he will go to the zoo and basically do whatever is asked of him. I have prepared him that most of his responsibility will probably be cleaning animal poop! As we have so many animals here at home, he should have it down. All of his responsibilities, which also include making the little bird seed sticks they sell in the aviary, will be in the Lacerte Children's Zoo.
Monday we had to drop off his final paperwork, so we packed a lunch and made a day of it. He starts in a couple of weeks, and his shift is every Tuesday afternoon.
We always start our visit to the Children's Zoo at the Nature Exchange. It is probably my children's favorite place in the world! The "store" is full of nature items that, as the name suggest, can be exchanged for other nature items. Cole and Danielle are always on the lookout for anything they can take to trade at the Nature Exchange! The Nature Exchange also has a nature journal program in which points are rewarded for work completed in a journal. The naturalist who work in the Exchange are wonderful at helping the kids to keep up their journals, and explaining different things to them. They also are wonderful at helping to identify unknown items found in nature. My two oldest will sit and talk with them for hours! Cole once traded some deer antlers he had found in the forest for a huge cow femur. We love it and it sits center on our fireplace mantle.
The next stop is the Discovery House! My Danielle drives the poor keepers crazy with request to take out the animals housed there, which include but not limited to, an opossum, two hedgehogs, tortoises and mice. Their rule is once an hour, but believe me, you can only tell her no so many times. They have a huge, fake tree in the middle of the room. The inside is hollow and there are fake animals placed all over the tree. A large basket of animal puppets is a favorite of Leo's, he loves to take them in the tree and pretend. As in the Nature Exchange, there are lots of books about animals and nature that you can read while you are there. There is usually a craft table both inside and outside, as well as a sensory table located outside.
The Goat Barn has about ten little pygmy goats, and you can go inside to brush and feed them.
There is a duck pond and a small garden, and a huge pool of carp.
The barn houses ponies, Flemish Giant hares, barn owls, and pot belly pigs. A word about hares, did you know one of the differences between rabbits and hares is that rabbits are born hairless, with eyes and ears closed for about a week, while hares are born more mature, fully coated and ready to hop around in minutes!
The zoo offers pony rides for $2.00 everyday but Tuesday, when the horses get to rest. As we will be at the zoo every Tuesday this summer, I am very relieved!
Chickens run loose around the barn and in the weeds around the Underground Zone. The Underground Zone is Leo's favorite! It houses naked mole rats, really ugly little things, scorpions, hornbills, dwarf mongooses and a python. There is a tunnel you can climb through (you meaning your child, more than likely), and pop your head up in a dome in the middle of the mongoose exhibit. When we were there, the female mongoose was very pregnant. Hopefully we will get to see the baby mongooses on a future visit.
Next is the aviary, where you can go inside and purchase the earlier mentioned seed sticks to feed to the different birds that live there. The birds fly all around the aviary, and yes, you might get pooped on as an added bonus!
In the middle of the Children's Zoo is a manmade creek, in which chlorinated, recycled water rushes through at about a half a foot deep! It is outlined by manmade rocks and just a wonderful place for the children to play. The kids always take their bathing suits and spend the time splashing!
To plan your own visit, check out http://www.dallaszoo.com/
If you come on a Tuesday during the summer, look for a tall, skinny boy cleaning poop, that's my kid!