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Zoo News

Zoo News

Dallas Zoo helps individuals with dementia reconnect with nature and wildlife
Feb 22, 2019

Zoo partners with Alzheimer’s Association to offer free program
to participants and caregivers

DALLAS (Feb. 22, 2019) – The Dallas Zoo is welcoming a new audience through its gates free of charge – individuals with early-stage dementia. The new memory care program called Wild Gatherings allows people with early-stage dementia to reconnect with their memories of experiencing nature and interacting with wildlife.

The zoo is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to offer this unique program to participants and their caregivers on select Mondays throughout the year. MEDIA: Join us Monday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. during our next Wild Gatherings program. Photo/video opportunities include participants meeting flamingos up close, in addition to crafts, a zoo tour, and more.

“Animals can have a healing effect on people, and we see it with these folks – their eyes light up in amazement as they connect with our animals,” said Tonya McDaniel, Dallas Zoo’s Education Supervisor for Family and Intergenerational Learning. “We’ve met some incredible people through this program. The family of one of our regular participants, who recently passed away, included the zoo in his obituary as a place of fellowship that helped him cope with his vascular dementia.”

Each Wild Gatherings program offers a new theme and experience for the participants, which includes a focus on a specific species; a private zoo tour; hands-on activities and crafts; and an up-close experience with one of the zoo’s ambassador animals.

“Working with those with early-stage dementia in nature was an opportunity that was missing in our South Dallas community,” said Marti Copeland, Dallas Zoo’s Director of Education. “We are proud the Dallas Zoo offers such diverse educational programming, and especially grateful we can create moments of joy for these individuals and their caregivers.”

“Just because an individual receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or Related Dementia (ADRD) does not mean they want to stop living,” said Debra Adams, Director of Community Relations, Alzheimer’s Association, Dallas & Northeast Texas Chapter. “Partnerships such as this one between the Dallas & Northeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Dallas Zoo Wild Gatherings program provides people the fun and social experience that everyone can thrive in.”

To register for a Wild Gatherings program, visit through the Alzheimer’s Association or call 1-800-272-3900. Upcoming events are on March 25, April 22, and May 20.

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About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to creating a better world for animals. Named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, it is the largest zoological experience in Texas. The zoo has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985, and features a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis) and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit or call 469.554.7500.