Dallas, Texas is a great place to visit with children. Several animal attractions are available to fill up a fun week or have a weekend trip. Be sure to call ahead or check on the Internet to make sure of opening hours changes occur during the year based on school and holidays.
The Dallas Zoo, founded in 1888, was the first zoo in Texas. The City of Dallas’ Parks and Recreation Department currently manage it. The zoo covers 95 acres with many specialty areas. The ZooNorth area of the zoo contains many exhibits. Bug U! is the newest, featuring all kinds of invertebrates found in Texas. A termite colony and a honeybee colony are designed for observation. There are even leaf-cutter ants on the job. The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is two acres of fun and education. The Kresge Foundation Farm teems with farm animals that can be petted, fed, brushed and watered. There is even a separate area for toddlers with size appropriate activities. The ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat opened in 1999. It was built to resemble a recovering rainforest and even has heated rocks for tiger napping. Others areas include the Primate Place, Historic Bird Valley and the Mammal buildings. The other main area of the Dallas Zoo is the Wilds of Africa exhibit. This 25-acre area contains six African habitats with animals, birds, murals, map and stations with information. There is even a Monorail Safari that will take you on a 25-minute tour of the areas. The Dallas Zoo is located at 650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway.
The Dallas Zoo manages the Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park. This beautiful Art Deco building was opened in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial celebration. It was originally a freshwater only aquarium, but a saltwater section opened in 1964. The aquarium has over 6,000 animals. They are leaders in breeding endangered Texas species as well as members of several national and international projects. The current main attraction is a ‘Seahorse Rodeo’. There are multiple display tanks with many breeds of seahorses for viewing. Another exhibit is the ‘Amazon Flooded Forest’. It shows thirty species of fish from the Amazon River. Some of them are so large that they have to be seen to be believed. There is a tank of Piranhas too, and a regular public feeding schedule for them and several other species. A large tank filled with jellyfish is something not to miss. Other sea creatures on display are a lionfish, anglerfish, sharks, electric eel and alligator gars. The Dallas Aquarium is located at 1462 First Avenue in Fair Park.
The Dallas World Aquarium located at 1801 N Griffin Street contains aquariums, rainforest exhibits and other interesting sights. One aquarium is a tunnel that allows you to walk and view what life on a reef is like. They have a ‘Predators’ that displays animals at the top of the marine food chain. Huge aquariums representing aquatic life from all over the world including the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Japan are a wonder to walk through. The rainforest exhibit is a representation of the South American Orinoco River basin in Venezuela. The South Africa exhibit is an outdoor area with plants and animals from the region. The Mundo Maya exhibit is a huge eight-story trip through the lands that comprised the ancient Mayan lands.