Went on a Thursday morning in late August 2012, yet it was still rather busy with strollers.
+ Located right on the DART line, 5 minutes south of downtown Dallas. Good signage from the highway.
+ A jovial and rather humorous "Welcome to the Dallas Zoo" song warmly greets patrons. Score A+ for creativity here.
+ The zoo is broken into two main parts: Zoo North (entrance side; consists of mainly child exhibits, large cats, primates and birds) and the massive Zoo South (the more exotic yet exhausting Wilds of Africa and Giants of the Savannah).
+ Enjoyed seeing the Texas cats (only the ocelot was active).
+ Zoo North also features an impressive reptile building with monitors, poisonous frogs, snakes and a komodo dragon. Great way to beat the heat.
+ Lots of fun activities (parakeet feeding, hurricane booth, bird shows etc.)
+ Be sure to take the 20-minute monorail narrated safari tour ($3), which covers the outskirts of the Wilds of Africa and will save you considerable walking.
+ There is an impressive array of habitat here; Zoo North took over two hours to cover (without seeing any shows); Zoo South would realistically take 5-6 hours to fully walk and explore each exhibit. This zoo is massive.
+ The Mandrills (Zoo South, on the way to the monorail) have a large area and are fascinating to watch.
+ Gorgeous habitats with an abundance of green space and shade - imperative given the Texas heat.
+ It is evident the zoo has undergone a significant transformation and expansion.
+ at $12 for adults in 2012, this zoo is a fantastic value.
- Colorful, yet inaccurate Zoo map. Main issue: it is not to scale, not even close. It gives the impression that Zoo North (entrance side) is roughly equivalent in size to Zoo South. Zoo South is around 3x the size/amount of walking of Zoo North.
(Been to well over a dozen zoos in the U.S. and this was easily the least accurate map.)
- Long walks. Relative to other zoos, there is a considerable amount of walking in between exhibits here (but the animals do benefit from larger enclosures). From the main entrance to the monorail is a good 10-minute walk under the highway. With the intense Dallas heat, you will need to hydrate often.
- A driven tour (tram would be ideal) for the vast Giants of the Savannah exhibits is desperately needed.
- Poorly-designed, customer-unfriendly viewing areas. Many of the primate and bird enclosures are roped back and have tight wire fencing and vegetation in front, rendering it impossible to get a clear view or take a sharp photo of the animals. The lone Sumatran tiger viewing area is well above the enclosure; his feeding and drinking stations were directly below the windows and against the wall, rendering it hard to see the tiger when active, while encouraging kids to smear against the windows and look down in a futile attempt to see the tiger.
- Poor signage. In several spots, a post pointed to a number of exhibits and their corresponding general direction, but one had to immediately venture another way to actually get there.
- Average advertising. The understated single-page flyer in Dallas-area hotels fails to highlight the vast beauty of this zoo.
Overall, the Dallas zoo has the potential to be one of the best zoos in the United States. In its present form, the overall patron experience suffers, though it is still a very strong offering.
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