|Director of Communications and Social Media|
The Dallas Zoo, founded in 1888, moved from Fair Park to what is now ZooNorth in 1912. The site, opposite the Zoo’s Wilds of Africa section built in 1990, has been continually renovated throughout its history. Although some of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) buildings constructed in the 1930s have been renovated, ZooNorth is home to some of the newest attractions at the Dallas Zoo, such as the Koala Walkabout, Wildlife Amphitheater, and Otter Outpost.
Before entering ZooNorth, guests pass the Endangered Species Carousel and Lemur Lookout exhibit. The custom-made carousel features hand-crafted exotic animals. The carousel and its shelter received a design award from the AIA. Lemur Lookout is a 4,000-square-foot, circular, naturalistic exhibit for these endangered primitive primates. It currently houses three species of lemurs: ring-tailed, collared, and black-and-white ruffed lemurs on rotating exhibition.
Crossing the bridge into ZooNorth, guests approach the Flamingo Pond, home to Caribbean and Chilean flamingos as well as other birds of North and South American wetlands. The grouping includes wood storks, hooded mergansers, crested screamers, macaws, whistling and ruddy ducks, great egrets, eastern brown pelicans, black-necked swans, and more. Many of the birds came to the Zoo from wildlife rehabilitators and cannot be released into the wild.
To the right of the Flamingo Pond, the Wildlife Amphitheater features SOAR, A Festival of Flight presented by Kimberly-Clark. The interactive bird show showcases free-flight demonstrations and trained birds perform natural behaviors in a humorous program. In front of the stage, guests can view penguins or alligators swimming as they participate in the ever-changing show. The amphitheater also accommodates 650 guests for special programs and events.
The Wildlife Amphitheater is located adjacent to the award-winning Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo with educational, interactive, and entertaining exhibits for toddlers to pre-teenage children. The two-acre space features a variety of areas such as the Kresge Farm, with farm animals and activities; The Underzone, with naked mole-rats, mongooses, and other underground animals; the Hillcrest Foundation Nature Exchange, an interactive “store” where children trade fossils, rocks, and other finds from nature; the JCPenney Discovery House and A.H. Belo Discovery Yard with outreach animals, puzzles, and games; the Texas Instruments Party Place for birthday celebrations; the Simmons Family Pony Trek with pony rides; the Stream, a man-made creek where children can splash, that’s surrounded by a colorful playscape; and more.
Within the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo, Travis & Zach’s Birds Landing is one of the Zoo’s most popular interactive exhibits. Guests have been flocking to feed insects and seeds on sticks to approximately 60 colorful inhabitants. Birds Landing is different from most interactive bird exhibits because it features more than 20 different species of birds.
Nearby, Tamarin Treetops is home to golden lion and cotton-top tamarins. The endangered tamarins live in a habitat that simulates the forest canopy with branches, vines, and leaves.
A tree-lined path leads to Primate Place, home to the Zoo’s monkeys and gibbons naturalistic habitats. Seven species are featured in five exhibits: Bolivian grey titi monkeys, saki monkeys, and spider monkeys from South America; colobus monkeys, swamp monkeys, and mona monkeys from Africa; and endangered white-cheeked gibbons from Asia.
Across the path, the ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat is a one-acre exhibit built to resemble a rain forest that has recently been logged and is in the process of regrowth. It is home to four Sumatran tigers and one Malayan tiger. The exhibit includes heated rocks for cat napping, small shrubs, a variety of exotic grasses, and pools of water where tigers love to swim. It also includes buildings designed in traditional Southeast Asian architectural style featuring a variety of graphics, and a sweeping view of the exhibit through large glass windows.
The path between Primate Place and the ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat ends at the Zoo’s newest exhibit, Koala Walkabout. A climate-controlled building surrounded by glass is home to two Queensland koalas. Nearby, guests can visit the lorikeet aviary and offer the colorful birds a cup of nectar. The Zoo’s kangaroos, wallabies, and emus were recently joined by two laughing kookaburras.
To the south of the ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat, the Betty Moroney Norsworthy Otter Outpost’s Asian-inspired shade pavilion, bubbling stream, tropical landscaping, and special windows for underwater viewing, is a charming home for Asian small-clawed otters and a peaceful setting for visitors to watch the otters’ antics.
The Herpetarium, formerly known as the Pierre A. Fontaine Bird and Reptile Building, is a warm environment for the Zoo’s cold-blooded creatures, such as snakes, lizards, Komodo dragons, American alligators, and amphibians. The extensive collection of venomous snakes, many of which are not found in other U.S. zoos, has earned the Dallas Zoo the title as the “hottest zoo” in the country.
One of the most popular exhibits in the Herpetarium is Ghosts from the Bayou. Upon entering the swamp, guests travel along a boardwalk that is only 8 feet above a giant albino alligator named Boudreaux and his companion, a gray/green female. The exhibit features a tin-roofed shack with water trickling into the 3-foot-deep pond. The alligators have a 15-foot pool surrounded by a sandy beach and a muddy bank with cypress roots shooting upward. Several smaller exhibits nearby house other creatures of the swamp, including snapping turtles and copperhead, cottonmouth, and rat snakes.
Texas Cats is a rocky home to wild cats found in Texas, including ocelots, bobcats, and mountain lions. The felines spend much of the day snoozing on the rocks and become active as evening draws near.
The tough guys of the bird world are found at Wings of Wonder. Birds of prey, scavengers, and other predatory birds have a rugged reputation as meat-eaters, but they are living a comfortable life in their luxurious homes at the Dallas Zoo. The bald eagles, a harpy eagle, fish eagles, condors, king vultures, and other big birds enjoy extensive landscaping, water features, and rock structures along with big tree stumps and cedar perches in their spacious habitats.
Next door, Bug U! guests can study the lives of social insects, including a termite colony, leaf-cutter ants, cockroaches, and a honeybee colony in an observation hive. Bug U! is home to diving beetles, praying mantises, walking sticks, millipedes, and centipedes as well as tarantulas, vinegaroons, brown recluse spiders, black widows, and other invertebrate species native to Texas. The historic rock building, built in the late 1930s, was renovated for the exhibit and features a butterfly garden by the entrance.
When in ZooNorth, visit the Zoofari Food Court, featuring delicious choices from hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and pizza to chicken, salad, ice cream, and more. This spacious food court overlooks the scenic Flamingo Pond and features meeting facilities for private events.
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.
# # #