You can imagine my excitement when I received the invite to visit the Dallas Zoo‘s Blogger Day – AKA the best adult field trip, EVER! One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting the Dallas Zoo. That sounds cliche, but I really mean it. I hadn’t even stepped foot out of the car when I was hit with this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. I felt like a kid again, stepping off the school bus with my smashed sack lunch in hand, name tag on, holding the hand of the kid in front of me in a long line of excited classmates.
To experience the Dallas Zoo as an adult is something completely different – and I’d even suggest visiting *GASP* without your kids. That way, you can totally immerse yourself in all they have to offer, take your time, read the various plaques and info cards in each area, and you yourself can be a kid again. Below are my 6 favorite experiences (in no particular order) from, I’ll say it again, the BEST ADULT FIELD TRIP EVER:
#1 – Giraffe Feeding
Having such a gentle, yet wild, animal just inches from you as it sticks out it’s tongue and slurps a piece of lettuce out of your hand – could possibly be one of the coolest things to happen to me. I felt like a zookeeper, but without the years of education and training…so I really just felt like a tourist!
#2 Galápagos Tortoise Feeding
The second feeding experience to make the list, and possibly the slowest meal (get it? because they’re giant tortoises and tortoises are slow…) I’ve ever experienced. These turtles can live WAY longer than humans and being able to get up close and personal was so special. I even got to pet one – who’s skin feels like the skin between our thumb and pointer finger, or the thin skin around our eyelids. And although they appear rough and callus, their skin was actually pretty smooth. I REALLY wanted to ride one and I’m fairly certain it’s hard shell could have supported me, but I settled on the giant statue outside of the enclosure.
#3 Human Feeding (myself)
After feeding the animals, we worked up an appetite of our own. Since I’m a bit of a foodie, of course I had to take some zoo bites for a spin. I referenced earlier the smashed sack lunch I would always have to bring on field trips, well I FINALLY got to eat something other than a warm bologna with mayo sandwich at the zoo! That’s a sign that you’ve made it as an adult. The tacos and avocado fries we enjoyed from Wilds of Africa Grill (nothing says TACOS like the Wilds of Africa) were top notch and worthy to go up against any taco shop in Dallas. A little birdie also told me the chef was formerly of Torchy’s Tacos – A.K.A the taco authority. I love that they’ve stepped their food game for a new generation.
#4 Passion, Protection, and Conservation Efforts
This is perhaps the most important experience on the list, and the closest to my heart as an adult who is hyper-aware of the threat we as humans pose to the wild. Long-term conservation and management of species in captivity, as well as in the wild, is one of the primary missions of the Dallas Zoo. They fulfill this mission, in part, through their strong commitments to a select group of international conservation partners as well as through field projects managed by the Dallas Zoo. It’s that passion for animals of all shapes, sizes, breeds, etc., that shines through every employee we interacted with. The knowledge these Zookeepers possess is astounding, but it’s the way they communicate that knowledge to us regular folks that is truly outstanding. We were lucky enough to get up close and personal with some crazy-interesting animals and hear more about their story and impact on our Earth.
#5 Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari Monorail
The Adventure Safari is the closest experience to a real safari that I’ve ever had and may ever get! Jump on board the newly renovated monorail for a closer look at some of the zoo’s most popular animals, as well as five African habitats not accessible by foot: the mountains of Ethiopia, the woodlands of Kenya, the Great Rift Valley, the arid Saharan Desert, and the bush of the Serengeti in Tanzania.
#6 Looking Forward: The Simmons Hippo Outpost
I’m already itching to visit this Spring when the Simmons Hippo Outpost opens to the public! When it opens in 2017, the Zoo will be home for Nile hippopotamuses for the first time in 15 years! A 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window will bring you eye-to-nostril with hippos, allowing zookeepers to teach millions of you about conservation efforts to help the world’s third-largest land mammal. The hippos – one male and two females – will be seen from multiple vantage points, and nearby, an upper-level habitat will provide an enhanced home for the Zoo’s world-renowned okapi herd, red river hogs, and saddle-billed storks. Both habitats will be visible from our elevated monorail, the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari.
So there you have it. I’m not sure why you’re still reading and haven’t navigated to dallaszoo.com to learn more about their incredible conservation efforts, book your group or corporate visit, family visit, or even planned your date night without the kids. They’ve just set their SEVENTH attendance record in a row – so you know #DallasBig things are happening at the Dallas Zoo.