Carrie is a stay-at-home-mom to two children, Jack (3) and Claire (1). Previously an account manager for a local insurance firm, she now spends the days wrangling small children and wondering how the house got so messy, and considers the day a success if everyone is dressed by noon. She also likes horses, books, iced tea and lip gloss. She blogs about learning to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom at Carrie Elle.

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Springtime at the Dallas Zoo

Hello, everyone!  I am so excited to be blogging for Today’s Mama!  Before I get started, I’d like to introduce myself.

My name is Carrie and I’m the mother of two small kids…Jack (3) and Claire (whose first birthday is coming up in July).  I left my job of five years as an Insurance Agent to be a stay-at-home-mom.  This SAHM thing has been the most rewarding *and* the most challenging job of my life.  When I’m not wrangling kids or trying to convince a kid to sleep or cleaning up toys – AGAIN – I like riding horses, reading books, and writing.  I blog about learning to be a SAHM (it’s quite a journey!) at Burp Cloths and Saddle Pads.

I’ve been married for 11 years to a man I met at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas when I was 21 (no joke!).  We moved from California to Texas in 2004.  And that is a nice segue into my FIRST BLOG POST (yay!) for Today’s Mama.

I am a California girl at heart.  In the eight years we’ve lived here, I’ve come to love Texas and after five years of working in Dallas, I know the city well and can even say I don’t think I would live anywhere else.

But (and I blame this on California!), I am kind of a Zoo Snob.

I grew up with the San Diego zoo just a short drive away.  We had annual passes and would often go to the zoo in the evenings after the crowds had dwindled.  We’d meander through the Panda exhibit and admire the baby chimps in the nursery, then munch on iced lemonade while petting the deer in the children’s zoo.

I have such fond memories of the San Diego Zoo (and such high expectations) that I refused to go to the Dallas Zoo for six whole years.  It wasn’t until I had a kid (and needed something to do) that I caved and visited the Dallas Zoo for the first time.

And it turned out I was wrong, and all my Zoo Snobbery was for naught.  The Dallas Zoo was (is!) awesome.  We even bought annual passes that same day.

So, fast-forward two years, and the zoo is *even better* – we’ve see two new exhibits open since we became members.  The most recent exhibit to open is the Koala Walkabout, and the other day I took Jack and Claire to check it out.

Located in the northern tip of “Zoo North,”  the Koala Walkabout has…you guessed it…koalas!  Two of them.  And boy are they cute.  But that’s not all – they are housed in the Australian Outback exhibit, which also has kangaroos, emus, and wallabies.  And, doing what the Dallas Zoo does best, you can get up close and personal to these animals.   Most animals are behind glass, and it’s easy for the little ones to get eye-level with the wildlife.

While we were in the Australian Outback, we checked out the Rainbow Lorikeets.  These cheerfully-colored little birds are housed in an atrium, and the best part (aside from their pretty colors!) is that you can join them.  Many will let you touch them…some will even let you hold them.  And if they don’t want to be held, or touched, they will let you know.  This bird let Jack know, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to be messed with:

Despite being severely reprimanded by a Lorikeet, this was Jack's favorite part of the day - and the hardest thing to tear him away from. He loved these little birds!

Also located in Zoo North is the Children’s Zoo.  At the Children’s Zoo you’ll find farm animals, a petting zoo, pony rides, and a playground.  If that isn’t enough, let the kids stare at the fish in the gargantuan trough/tank, or let them splash in what Jack calls “the pool” (it’s really more of a creek-like fountain).  Be warned, though: if your child is a toddler or older, it’s going to be very hard to get through the Children’s Zoo without them wanting to get wet.  If you’re up to it, bring a change of everything…because for all the wonderful animals and exciting things to do at the zoo, the kids seem most enthralled by the water!

The other side of the zoo is known as the Wilds of Africa, and let me tell you…this part is awesome!  This is where you will find the gorillas, the crocodiles, and the Giants of the Savannah exhibit (which opened recently and includes elephants, lions – which can often be viewed from the air-conditioned comfort of the Serengeti Grill – zebras, giraffes and more).

Again – you get to be so close to the animals.

For $5, you can feed a giraffe (they provide you with a head of lettuce, and the giraffes come up and munch away – from your hands!).

When you’re ready for a break, enjoy a picnic lunch from home in the shaded picnic area (which is located next to bald eagles), or grab something from one of the several restaurants.  Or, take the kids for a monorail ride.  The monorail circles the Wilds of Africa and gives you views of some animals you can’t see just by walking the park (a word from the wise, though…in the middle of summer, when the zoo is all quiet and deserted and admission is cheaper – don’t think you’re going to cool off on the monorail…we tried this once, and it was HOT – so, enjoy the monorail now, while the weather is still amazing).

On your way out, you can talk to the parrots (they are located right next to the restrooms, and one of them does indeed talk – or say “hello!” at least) and let the kids ride the Endangered Species Carousel (my kid likes to ride the gorilla).

If you are close enough to the zoo, you might consider an Annual Pass.  For a family of four, a basic pass is $119, tax-deductible, and includes free parking and several free rides on the carousel or the monorail.  This is a great value, and we have an annual pass – that way, I don’t feel like I need to “do everything” every time I am there.  It’s nice to just go visit for a couple of hours and then be able to leave as soon as someone (and I admit, sometimes it’s me) starts to get cranky or tired.

And one more thing – everyone who works there is so nice.  They must screen employees for helpfulness and friendliness, because I always feel like I get a real dose of Texas Friendly when I go to the zoo.

Zoo hours are 9-5.  Admission prices vary by season, but tickets right now (March, April, May) are $15/adult, $12/childen (3-11). More details, and prices for the rest of the year, are here.

Have you been to the Dallas Zoo?  What is your favorite exhibit?

 

 

 

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