Dallas Zoo

We were heading out to the Dallas Zoo this morning so as I'm putting things in the car, Nicholas was getting a hat for himself. Rachel walked out of the front door wearing a hat too. She obviously didn't care that she was wearing a winter hat in the 100 degree summer! She even brought a second one with her just in case.

We like going to the zoo but we haven't been since before Rachel was born so we were all excited about this trip.

The Dallas Zoo has a butterfly house. You can walk in and see lots of butterflies up close and maybe even have one land on you.

Nicholas asked why these two were stuck together. Ummm, they're hugging...

Nicholas had a great time trying to catch a butterfly.

On to Nicholas' favorite exhibits, the reptiles...

We liked watching the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. It's the largest of the 32 identified species of rattlesnakes. Adults are usually about 5-6 feet long but the longest known diamondback was about 8 feet long!

We always like to visit the albino alligators. How unusual!

Rachel loved watching the turtles.

These are pancake turtles. We love turtles and pancakes so we had to spend some time with these cute little guys. Unlike most turtles who have rounded shells, the pancake turtle's shell is flat which allows it to hide in tiny crevices.

We recently learned about the Texas Nature Challenge. It's really an awesome idea whereby you are given missions to go to a list of parks and find certain things or answer questions. What fun! The Dallas Zoo happens to be one of the nature missions in the DFW area so we took a moment and worked on answering some of the questions on our mission.

Nicholas, who until just recently was afraid of little petting zoos, actually wanted to ride on a camel! I was so proud of him for doing something that I know he was afraid of. He seemed to have a great time.

My favorite part of the Dallas Zoo is their Nature Exchange program. Kids can bring in items that they find in nature such as shells, seed pods, fossils, rocks, bugs, etc. They meet with a Nature Exchange staff person and tell the person what they are bringing in, where they found it, and anything else they know about it. They get points for the items they bring in and for how much they know about them. Then they can spend those points to "buy" other items in the Nature Exchange. Here are the items that Nicholas brought in today - a dead cicada, a rock that Nicholas calls his chalk rock because it writes well on concrete, the top of a giant acorn, a shell fossil, and a piece of agate.

Nicholas talked with the Nature Exchange lady who was so informative. She clarified that the chalk rock was actually sandstone and she doesn't usually see such a large piece of sandstone. The giant acorn is from a Bur Oak. She also talked about the fossil. It's a fossilized piece of scallop shell probably 65 or more million years old and it is encased in limestone.

Nicholas got 305 points for his items. He could keep those points on his account and let it build up to get a larger item but delayed gratification is lost on most 6 year olds so he went off to shop.

This is just a few of the bookcases full of items that he could buy with his points. There are many of these throughout the room with different things like rocks, shells, fossils, bones, seed pods, etc.

I was glad to find a name for these. We found several of these out at Grapevine Lake. They are fossilized oyster shells and their official name is Gryphea. They kind of look like a crawfish shell. I learned a lot myself just by looking around the room.

I really liked the fossil section. I want the fossilized fish (6,000 points!) or the ammonite fossil (15,000 points!).

Nicholas finally decided to spend most of his points on these three shark teeth and keep some points on his account. Cool choice!

We played in the kid's section for a little while. There is a little "river" and splash area that are great for kids to cool off in. Nicholas loves to climb on the giant spider web.

I was proud of Nicholas for figuring out one of our questions for the Nature Challenge. He even found the pelicans despite the fact that there aren't any signs on their cage letting you know where they are.

Hey, look! It's Happy Feet! Rachel loved watching the little pelicans waddle around and jump in their pool.

We were getting really hot and tired by now but couldn't leave without visiting the Giants of the Savannah exhibit. It is really a great exhibit and so much better than last time we were at this zoo.

The giraffes can even come right up to you and you can purchase food to feed them. Neat!

The Dallas Zoo is comprised of 95 acres and thousands of animals. Plan to make a whole day of your stay. There is really that many things to see and do. It can be quite expensive with admission prices of $12 for adults and $9.00 for kids 3 and up plus parking is $7.00 per car. But there are often special Zoo Days with $1.00 admission prices or you can find local coupons for cheap admission prices. They are located at 650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35E), Dallas, TX 75203. It's about three miles south of downtown Dallas, on I-35E at the Marsalis exit. The zoo is open 9:00 - 5:00 daily.

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