I’ve been to Dallas several times over the years, mostly for racing events.
On one of my trips to ‘The Big D’ I decided to go to the zoo and check it out. This article is about that trip, so let’s get started.
I was impressed with Dallas’ zoo.
It was clean and there were a lot of good animals to see.
I even saw them cleaning the Flamingo area while I was there.
They had good signage and this is a big pet peeve of mine when I go to a zoo.
If I can’t find an animal’s sign or there isn’t one for me to learn about the animals, I get upset.
I discussed in my last article how a Flamingos’ diet causes them to be pink or orange.
One thing that researchers have learned by placing Flamingos in captivity is that they don’t do well if there aren’t plenty of other members around. This is why a zoo has from 15 to 25 of them to display.
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. They can run 70 mph, which is as fast as cars drive on the highway.
The cheetah can reach its’ top speed in just 3 seconds!
In the photo below, you’ll notice if you look, that the cheetah here has worn out a path in the grass from its’ constant pacing. Sometimes I feel bad for animals in the zoos.
Especially the cheetah. It can never run to its’ potential because its’ enclosure is too small for it to run 70 mph.
The cheetah has a long, muscular tail that has a flat shape. The tail almost functions like a rudder on a boat because they use it to help control their steering and keep their balance when running very fast.
Cheetahs have “tear marks” that run from the inside corners of their eyes down to the outside edges of their mouth. These marks help reflect the glare of the sun when they are hunting during the day.
They work just like the black marks that football players put under their eyes during the games.
These marks also work like the sights on a rifle, to help the cheetah “aim” and stay focused on their prey when they are hunting.
The camel was domesticated over 3,500 years ago and have been used for transportation ever since.
The one-humped camel, or dromedary camel, is found in the Arabian deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, while the two-humped camel, or Bactrian camel, is native to the Gobi Desert in China and the Bactrian steppes of Mongolia.
In the Houston Zoo article, we learned that Asian elephants have small ears and African elephants have large ears.
I’d have to say that this is an African elephant.
Elephants travel in a herd (10 or more elephants) lead by a female.
Both female and male African elephants have tusks but only the male Asian elephants have tusks. They use their tusks for digging and finding food.
Elephants have large, thin ears. Their ears are made up of a complex network of blood vessels which help regulate their temperature. Blood is circulated through their ears to cool them down in hot climates.
Elephants have no natural predators. However, lions will sometimes prey on young or weak elephants in the wild.
The main risk to elephants is from humans through poaching and changes to their habitat.
The rhinoceros is another favorite animal of mine.
This one looks like it’s dead, lol.
Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains.
White rhino can weigh over 7700 pounds.
Rhinoceros are often hunted by humans for their horns.
Rhinoceros horns are made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that fingernails and hair are made of.
Rhinoceros are herbivores (plant eaters).
A group of rhinoceros is called a ‘herd’ or a ‘crash’.
Oryx is a large antelope. It reaches 5 to 7 feet in length; 18 to 35 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh between 220 to 450 pounds, depending on the species.
Oryx is a territorial animal which uses its’ horns to establish dominance in the herd. Dominant males use their dung to mark the territory.
Bongos are the largest and most spectacular of the African forest antelopes.
Bongos are well equipped for a life in the forest – impressive, long, spiralling horns can be used to break branches and a long flexible tongue can grasp leaves with ease.
Despite their bold appearance, bongos are shy and reclusive animals that stay out of sight in the cover of the forest during the day.
A giraffes heart is 2 feet long and weighs up to 20 pounds. This large and strong heart pumps 75 liters of blood every minute.
Giraffes have one of the highest blood pressures in the animal kingdom because of their height and size of heart.
Giraffe tongues are so long that they could lick every part of their face, including their ears.
Favorite food of giraffes is acacia. They also like leaves of mimosa and apricots.
One of the most distinguishing features of tapirs is their long, flexible proboscis, formed from the upper lip and nose, which is used to strip leaves and pluck fruits.
This bristly-coated tapir varies in color from dark brown to greyish-brown, generally with a dark underside and legs, and lighter cheeks, throat and ear tips.
Dwarf mongooses are the smallest members of the mongoose family, and like their larger cousins, dwarf mongooses are ground-dwelling predatory carnivores.
As their name implies, dwarf mongooses are among the smallest carnivores native to Africa. From head to tail, the average male is only between 7 and 12 inches in length and weighs less than 1 pound.
Dwarf mongooses are covered in dense fur that can range in color, but is typically brown, speckled gray or reddish.
The Jackson’s Hornbill (Tockus jacksoni) is found in Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.
Despite the huge size of their bills, they are relatively light, being made of spongy tissue. The helmet too is made of a pneumatic bone.
Still, in order to support the huge bill, the first two neck vertebrae are fused together, a unique case amongst birds.
Now to see some primates.
Lemurs are fun animals to watch.
The word Lemur is Latin and means spirits of the night. There are many legends throughout cultures that talk about the Lemurs being active at night. They are nocturnal.
Lemurs are a type of primate known as Prosimians. This means ape. They are considered to be the type of primate at the highest risk of extinction.
A monkey is any primate that is not a human, prosimian, or ape.
Apes and spider monkeys swing arm-to-arm in trees, but most monkeys don’t. Instead, they run across branches.
A group of monkeys is called a “troop.”
The meerkats are another favorite animal of mine. They are so cute that I wish I had three or four of them.
Meerkats are catlike carnivores that are part of the civets and mongoose family.
These animals are found in the deserts and grasslands of Africa, including southwestern Botswana, western and southern Namibia, and north and west South Africa.
The largest of four anteater species, the giant anteater may be five to seven feet long, from nose to tail, and weigh 40 to 100 pounds.
It has a narrow head, long nose, small eyes, and round ears.
The giant anteater detects termite mounds and anthills with its keen sense of smell and tears them open with its strong claws.
The Dallas Zoo has a Petting Zoo area for the kids, just like the Houston Zoo.
These tiny goats are too cute.
There were also some ducks swimming around.
The kids could take a horse ride. When I was a child, I loved this sort of thing.
Next up is one of the ugliest animals I have ever seen.
The naked mole rats have no fur, only wrinkled skin… and they have big bucked teeth. Very gross looking.
There’s nothing funny about a scorpion. I’d hate to get stung by one.
There were Black Widow Spiders at the Dallas Zoo also.
Notice the sign says ‘very dangerous’. You don’t have to tell me twice. I hate poisonous spiders like this, and also the Brown Recluse.
A tarantula bite will hurt pretty badly, but it won’t kill you like the Black Widow’s bite will.
Next, we start looking at the reptiles.
This looks like the Eastern Long – Necked Turtle.
It is a widely distributed long necked species that inhabits a wide variety of water bodies and is an opportunistic feeder.
In early summer, the female will lay between 2 and 10 eggs in the banks of her aquatic habitat. Three to five months later the hatchlings break out of their shells.
These young turtles often fall prey to predators such as fish and birds. Females will lay 1 to 3 clutches of eggs per year.
It is possible for the Lizard to lose their tail when they feel that they are in danger. It can be a means of escaping from a predator.
In time the tail will grow back again. The tail they leave behind will move and confuse the predator. What grows back will be slimmer and often a different color.
Lizards are able to smell by tasting the air around them. This is why they are often seen with their tongues going in and out at a rapid pace.
For the most part Lizards aren’t dangerous. There are two species though that have a dangerous venom. They are the Gila Monster and the Mexican Beaded Lizard.
Now we’ll take a lot at the big snake that the Dallas Zoo has on display.
I said in my Houston Zoo article that people expect to see a big snake when the come to the zoo, and Dallas doesn’t disappoint.
The also have other snakes that are constrictors.
Snakes eat their prey whole and are able to consume prey three times larger than the diameter of their head because their lower jaw can separate from the upper jaw.
To keep prey from escaping, snakes have rear-facing teeth that hold their prey in their mouths.
Venomous snakes inject their prey with venom, while constrictors squeeze their prey. They do not need to hunt everyday.
Anacondas and pythons can survive for up to a year without food after feeding.
Snakes hunt mostly at night.
The snakes in the next photos are vipers.
Most snake species lay eggs, but some species give birth to live young.
Snakes lay their eggs in a warm location.
With the exception of some python species, eggs and young are not cared for by the male or female.
Most of the world’s approximately 3,000 snake species are nonvenomous and only 200 are considered by the World Health Organization to be medically significant venomous species.
Snakebite fatalities are common occurrences in many parts of the world.
According to a 2008 study published in PLoS Medicine, an estimated 20,000 human deaths occur each year from snakebites, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, though with the unreported incidents the total may be as high as 94,000.
Despite the relative abundance of venomous species, few deaths attributed to snakebites occur in the United States and none are reported in Canada, partially because of access to appropriate medical care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 7,000 to 8,000 people bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. every year, only 5 die.
Despite the high number of venomous snakes in Australia, only about 2 to 4 deaths occur every year from snakebites.
The highest rate of snakebite fatalities by far occurs in south Asia, particularly on the Indian subcontinent, where nearly 11,000 deaths occur every year, accounting for over half of estimated snakebite deaths worldwide.
Poor, rural areas that lack appropriate medical care and the correct antivenoms contribute to this high number of snakebite fatalities, and the World Health Organization considers snakebites to be a threat to public health in these areas.
Snake bites by venomous species do not always cause symptoms, and only 50-70% of bites by a venomous species will actually cause envenoming.
Rattlesnakes are the most venomous species in the US and they can strike at up to a third of their body length.
You are 9x more likely to die from being struck by lightning than to die from a venomous snake bite.
More people die from spider bites in the United States each year than they do from snake bites.
I always like to close an article about the zoo with the Komodo dragon if the zoo I’m talking about has one.
This one was not as large as the one at the Houston Zoo.
I still wouldn’t want it to get near me though.
When the Komodo is hunting and catches its’ prey, a deer for example, it attacks the feet first, knocking the deer off balance.
When dealing with smaller prey, it may lunge straight for the neck.
The dragon’s basic strategy is simple: try to smash the quarry to the ground and tear it to pieces.
Strong muscles driving powerful claws accomplish some of this, but the Komodo’s teeth are its most dangerous weapon.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at the Dallas Zoo, all the animals and information.
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