THE WILDS OF AFRICA
|Director of Communications and Social Media|
THE WILDS OF AFRICA
The Dallas Zoo’s Wilds of Africa opened in 1990 as a 25-acre tract featuring six African ecosystems. In May 2010, an 11-acre African savanna was added with the opening of Giants of the Savanna.
The Wilds of Africa is the first zoo exhibit in the world to include every major habitat of an entire continent. It focuses on habitats in order to highlight the fragile bond between man, animals and the environment and shows how animals are suited for their particular habitats. The conservation message is that if habitats are destroyed, wildlife cannot survive.
A specially designed Monorail Safari, the only one in the United States engineered to climb and turn, takes visitors on a one-mile tour through six habitats — bush, desert, forest, woodland, river, and mountain environments. Many of the animals in the Wilds of Africa can only be seen via the Monorail.
The 1,500-foot Gorilla Trail, a winding path through a wooded area of the exhibit, provides an up-close perspective of wildlife and habitats. Natural elements such as termite mounds and elephant footprints occur along the trail and are designed to encourage visitors to discuss what animals might have passed that way.
At the beginning of the Gorilla Trail, visitors enter the award-winning Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Center, a two-acre reserve for the Zoo’s Western lowland gorillas. Here, visitors can observe the gorillas from several places, from special viewing bunkers, or from the Conservation Research Station, a building within the gorilla reserve designed for the public and researchers to view gorillas from floor-to-ceiling windows in climate-controlled comfort. Gorilla Guide volunteers, videos, and graphic information are available to explain animal behaviors, and visitors may occasionally watch researchers at work. Check schedules for gorilla training demonstrations to see how zookeepers work with the animals to reinforce positive behaviors for health exams and safety.
Giant Aldabra tortoises reside next to the gorillas. Native to islands off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Aldabra tortoises are the second largest species of tortoises in the world.
Around the corner is Crocodile Isle, home to Nile crocodiles.
A short distance from the gorillas is the Kimberly-Clark Chimpanzee Forest. This 19,000-square-foot, open-air habitat houses the Zoo’s troop of chimpanzees and includes trees, rocks, a waterfall and stream, natural climbing structures, and a variety of edible plants. Guests enjoy watching periodic training sessions at the large glass windows. The chimpanzees also can be viewed from an open air pavilion and from the Monorail Safari
The A. D. Martin Sr. Forest Aviary, a walk-through exhibit entered off the trail, allows visitors to observe colorful African birds in a free-flight enclosure.
A kopje (rock formation) has been recreated midway along the Gorilla Trail. Found in eastern Africa, the kopje is home to several varieties of small animals such as the rock hyrax, meerkat, and klipspringer. Next, visitors encounter the okapi, a distant relative of the giraffe, native to the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Dallas Zoo, which has one of the most successful okapi breeding programs in the country, has produced approximately 20 percent of the okapi in United States and Japanese zoos.
Finally, visitors pass the saddle-billed stork exhibit. Videos explain how the Dallas Zoo became the first to breed and successfully raise these long-legged birds in captivity.
With the exception of a small rock climbing area off the main path of the kopje exhibit, the Gorilla Trail and the Monorail Safari are handicapped-accessible.
As visitors enter or leave the Wilds of Africa, they will encounter mandrills next to the Don Glendenning Penguin Cove where African penguins entertain guests as they frolic and swim in a large climate-controlled pool. Guests can see the birds “fly” underwater through giant glass panels in front of their pool.
The Wilds of Africa is anchored by a large African plaza containing buildings decorated with designs inspired by the art of the Ndebele people of southern Africa. The Ndebele Plaza features a restaurant, restrooms, and seating areas, which allow visitors to rest after enjoying a real, live African adventure right in the heart of the city.
The newest addition to the Wilds of Africa is Giants of the Savanna. The multi-species habitat is home to elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, impalas, and guineafowl. Visitors can feed giraffes at the Diane and Hal Brierley Giraffe Ridge. Zookeepers also hold Elephant Encounter talks twice daily. The Simmons Safari Base Camp and Levy Family Observation Deck provide guests with a panoramic view of both of the activity-based habitats.
Nearby, warthogs and red river hogs can be found at Warthog Wallow, made possible by Diane and Hal Brierley. In addition, Predator Rock features lions and cheetahs in separate exhibits with a Predator Encounter area in between the two habitats where zookeepers demonstrate training methods for the big cats. Guests get an eye-to-eye view of the lions through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the Serengeti Grill.
Giants of the Savanna has received high praise from researchers, zoo industry professionals, and Zoo guests. It was recognized for Significant Achievement with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ 2011 Exhibit Award.
About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is the largest zoological experience in Texas featuring a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The official airline of the Dallas Zoo is American Airlines. The Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis). Admission is $15 for ages 12-64, $12 for ages 3-11 and 65+, and free for ages 2 and younger and Dallas Zoological Society (DZS) members. The Zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, download the free iPhone app, visit DallasZoo.com, or call 469.554.7500.
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