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“Improved but still a very poor value”
Review of Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo
Ranked #6 of 65 things to do in Des Moines
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: A wide variety of animals are housed in natural settings at this 30-acre, relatively small zoo, dedicated to caring for the over 800 animals, educating the public about different species, and generating fun experiences for children, such as crawling through simulated prairie dog tunnels and feeding, petting and riding animals. Open 9 am - 5 pm, May 1 - Sept 30. Open 10 am - 4 pm, October 1 - April 30.
West Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
238 reviews
67 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 139 helpful votes
“Improved but still a very poor value”
Reviewed May 21, 2012

A couple years back I called this the worst zoo in the country. I was wrong that designation belongs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in CO Springs. Since my last visit they have updated the Australia exhibit, Monkey exhibit, Sea Lions, and added a traveling ice age exhibit. As much as the Australia exhibit cost to revamp I'm amazed at how little it seems to have changed. I was most impressed by the Sea Lion upgrade the underwater viewing seemed on par with modern aquatic mammal exhibits I've seen around the country. I would hate to be on the upper level viewing deck on a hot day because it's completely exposed to the sun and would be scorching. The list of demerits for this zoo is still worth noting: Admission price is more than Omaha zoo which is so vastly superior that I wont' compare them, the admission price nearly reaches that of the Denver zoo which again is orders of magnitude better and in a huge metropolitan area. For the prices charged this place should be cleaner, nicer, and more completely staffed. I went during the week but during my entire visit I saw 5 zoo employees and 2 volunteers. The petting zoo prices for animal food are now 1$ for tiny cups, a huge rip off. Quarter machines like they have at the Omaha zoo are the way to go. The traveling Ice Age exhibit that was reported on in local media is really primitive, they look like animatronics from 50 years ago the large bases that the critters sit on have been draped in brown tarps and sprayed with fake snow which has largely fallen off. The only concession stand open is the Safari Grill which is far into the zoo the food there looked really terrible and the help were less than friendly even though it was a beautiful day and they weren't busy - I can't imagine how they'll be when it's 100 degrees and there's a line a block long at their stand.

Some random parting thoughts:

The gift shop is very nice considering the rest of the zoo.
The playground is ok for kids age 4+
So many animals are out of site but there's no signage to let you know (Giraffes are put away don't bother walking the Africa trail because there's nothing to see)

If you live in DSM metro with little kids the value proposition might work out with a membership where you go to the zoo for a couple hours instead of to the movies but individual admission prices are killer and if you have to travel to get here for a once a year thing drive the extra 90 minutes to Omaha.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank nahdogg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bm0nkey, Public Relations Manager at Blank Park Zoo, responded to this review, May 30, 2012
First let me clear up the innaccurate information: the non-profit Blank Park Zoo does NOT cost more than the Omaha Zoo. Omaha's adult admission is 23 percent more than Blank Park's admission. Omaha's child admission is 50 percent more than Blank Park's admission.

Giraffe: The giraffe have been off exhibit at times this spring for two reasons, construction and weather. Now that the weather is warm enough, you can expect the giraffe to be out on Fridays through Sundays for the next couple of weeks until the major construction is completed just to the north of their exhibit. The reason they are kept off exhibit is for the animals safety as they can be easily scared. Once the major earth moving is completed on the Rhino exhibit they can be out all summer. Please check the 'visit the zoo' section of our website for complete schedule of when giraffe are on/off exhibit.

You are correct in saying the zoo membership is a great value for frequent visitors of Blank Park Zoo. Just three visits to Blank Park Zoo in a summer will save the average family money and get them into other zoos in bigger cities for free or 50 percent off regular admission.
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Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
124 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Nice zoo - great for kids”
Reviewed May 20, 2012

Smaller scale zoo, but great for kids and a good value

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
Thank mitchdsm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bm0nkey, Public Relations Manager at Blank Park Zoo, responded to this review, May 21, 2012
Thanks for your reveiw. Hope you can visit us again soon. Thanks.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sioux City, Iowa, United States
Level Contributor
18 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Good small-city zoo”
Reviewed May 17, 2012

Let's be honest here: this is no Omaha Zoo. But for a zoo in a small-city, especially for one that has one of the world's biggest and best zoos just a couple of hours away, the Blank Park Zoo is quite respectable, and they are working on some new exhibits that will make the zoo even more fun to visit. Anyway, it's perfect for taking kids to the zoo for a morning or an afternoon, and being less crowded than bigger zoos makes for more entertaining animal watching in many cases!

Visited July 2011
Helpful?
Thank Lindsay H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bm0nkey, Public Relations Manager at Blank Park Zoo, responded to this review, May 19, 2012
Thanks for your review. Hope you visit us again when you come to Des Moines to see the new seal/sea lion pool, entrance and more!
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Des Moines
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Nice but room for improvement”
Reviewed May 16, 2012

Good: It's in Des Moines, a couple new or upgraded items, you can often find coupons through out the year,

Bad: Needs more animals, food is way overpriced,

Overall: Some things were closed or run down and other items were new or recently refurbished. It's a small zoo so not a lot to see but sometimes it's a good thing because you can see the whole thing in a couple hours. If you're in Des Moines and looking for something to do that's close, go to Blank Park. If you're looking for an amazing zoo experience, maybe plan a bigger trip to Omaha.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank cladano
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bm0nkey, Public Relations Manager at Blank Park Zoo, responded to this review, May 19, 2012
Thanks for your review. We are working hard to improve the Zoo ($6.5 million in new additions and improvements last year alone.) If you like to go to Omaha Zoo as well, consider a Blank Park Zoo membership that will get you 50% off admission in Omaha. Thanks.
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IA
Level Contributor
41 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Great for the size of Des Moines”
Reviewed May 15, 2012

Well kept and ever changind, this zoo is a great family place

Helpful?
Thank iagal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bm0nkey, Public Relations Manager at Blank Park Zoo, responded to this review, May 17, 2012
Glad you enjoy Blank Park Zoo. Come back soon! Thanks.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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