Thursday, July 15, 2010 By: Suzanne

Dallas Zoo

I heard this wonderful story about the Dallas zoo on our local show, Think, on NPR. It's a great show. I feel really lucky to be living in an area that can support a large NPR station that will bring us really great national and local shows. Ok, that was my crazy NPR addict plug. hehehe.

Anyway, the guests went on and on about this new Savannah exhibit at the Dallas Zoo. I had never been to the Dallas Zoo because I had heard that the animals were kept in little cages and that just makes me sad. I grew up going to places like Busch Gardens where the animals roam on these large open habitats. So if I want to go to a zoo and view animals I can only see in videos, I go to the Ft Worth Zoo. It's not a good as Busch Gardens but at least the animals have some space to get away from the gawking humans. But the new Savannah exhibit they were talking about sounded wonderful! I had to see it for myself. So off my mom and I go to the Dallas Zoo. That's her in the pic above and here's a close up of that same shot:
hehehe, she's gonna love that shot!

Right in the front entrance are two beautiful macaws just sitting there.

I had talked it up so much that we went straight to the Savannah exhibit.
And close up:
You only have to scroll up to see where I get it from.

To the Savannah! Or so we thought. What we went to was the the tram ride around what we thought was the Savannah exhibit. Because that's the way it is at Busch Gardens. In order to see the animals up close, you have to get on the tram. We were early for the next ride so we went to look at some of the animals close by. We saw this wonderfully odd and beautiful creature.
It looks like it could be cousin to a zebra, huh? But apparently it's most closely related to a giraffe! It's hard to believe but when I saw it flick it's tongue, I believed it. It looked very much like a giraffe in the face when it did that.
And just opposite the Okapi were these beautiful birds.
The vulture is difficult to see because she blends with the gray mesh between me and her but I just had to have a picture of her. I have a thing for vultures. Well, all birds really. If I have a spirit animal, I'm sure it's a type of bird. And it's possibly a vulture. I have a strange attraction to them.

We also got to see the meerkats while waiting. Cute little creatures! (that pic is for Andrea)
And then we went on the tram! YAYYYY! ummmm, wait. This is not what I was expecting. We saw some wonderfully beautiful animals but they were in little bitty habitats. Not in cages, thank goodness, but still. There was so little space, I couldn't believe this is what I came to see! The only really cool part was when I got this giant bird (don't remember what kind, though it looks related to the pelican) sitting on it's nest.
So we traveled the tram and saw the beautiful animals in their little spaces and felt a little disappointed. Then as we're getting off the tram we hear the driver making announcements and she says, "And don't forget to visit our new Savannah exhibit." hehehe, well, ok. Where is it then? We make our way there with great anticipation and....let down. Yeah, it's bigger than anything else they have there but it's not this great expanse where the animals can be viewed in "their natural surroundings and studied as if in the wild" like they said. I'm not sure why there are scientists out there studying. You can see the stands they sit in to study the animals in this picture.
I've seen better habitats. I'm very confused by this and wonder exactly WHAT they're getting out of this. However, I did get to watch an elephant spraying herself with water. That was very cool! I missed the big show but was able to a little video of her doing it again the second time. (video for Sage though I found better on youtube).

We were also able to feed the giraffes! I have to say this far and away was the best part of the visit. Seriously, who gets to feed giraffes? Of course, they made us pay $5 for 3 leafs of lettuce but I think $5 is definitely worth the experience of feeding a giraffe. I was able to get pics of mom with the giraffe she fed, but not knowing my camera, she couldn't get me.
We went to eat lunch right after because it POURED rain. But then the sun came out again and we saw the rest of the zoo.

At one point we're just walking along and this bird crosses my path.  I give my camera to my mom and walk slowly up to him. Not sure if he's supposed to be free or not but it was still fairly cool. We just stared at each other for a minute. There was a sign posted about feeding birds at certain times but I think it was canceled due to the rain.  He might be one of those and is just not afraid of people at all.

He followed us for a few minutes after this but I guess we were boring.

We soon were passing these wonderful turtle sculptures.

And then one moved to reach the grass on the other side of the fence. You know, the grass is always greener...Seriously, I never would have known they were real if it didn't move! They were so still!

I will now end my story and leave you with a beautiful harpy vulture.