Friday, May 24, 2013

Totally Texas -- Mingle with the animals

Dallas Zoo

650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 South)


It’s easier than ever for people to get a close view of the Dallas Zoo’s animals -- and for the animals to get a closer look at each other. This spring’s experiment in mingling animals in the Giants of the Savannah exhibit has giraffes, zebras, impalas, ostriches and guinea fowl grazing side by side daily. The zoo’s elephant herd is being accustomed more gradually to the other animals, with selected groups of elephants typically joining either giraffes or zebras on Fridays and Sundays, weather permitting.

Neither group of grazers seems to mind the guinea fowl, who pick their way among all the big animals as if they rule the roost.

Also new this spring -- live encounters with animals and their keepers every half hour, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ndebele Plaza in the Wilds of Africa area. On my visit this week, lively African penguin Sid delighted in leaping off a stump and scampering around the stage area.

On the other side of the zoo, the free-flight bird show in the ZooNorth amphitheater takes off Wednesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Birds take time off Mondays - Tuesday.)

Other regular encounters are scheduled with lions, cheetahs, elephants and koalas on weekdays, and a wide variety of animals on weekends, at their respective enclosures.

My family enjoys the zoo even on rainy days, with the indoor reptile exhibits and the gloriously creepy exhibit of insects, spiders and other invertebrates at Bug U!, both in ZooNorth.

If the weather’s hot, we can cool off in the air-conditioned Gorilla Research Center and base camp viewing center in the Giants of the Savannah exhibit. Or enjoy the mist machines near the wart hog enclosure and the meandering stream through the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo in ZooNorth.

The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Shortened hours apply in winter, and the zoo is closed on Christmas Day.) Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children (ages 3-11), parking $8 per car. And yes, we usually succumb to the boys’ pleas to ride the endangered species carousel ($2). If you come by DART (there’s a stop outside the entrance), show your DART pass for a $2 discount.

For more discount information and special events, see

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