Dallas Zoo is a 106-acre (43 ha) zoo located 3 miles (5 km) south of downtown Dallas, Texas in Marsalis Park. Established in 1888, it is the oldest and largest zoological park in Texas and is managed by the non-profit Dallas Zoological Society. It is home to over 2,000 animals representing 406 species. It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
The zoo was established in 1888 when the city purchased two deer and two mountain lions for $60 from a private seller in Colorado City, Colorado. The animals were placed in pens and put on display in City Park. In the 1890s, the Dallas City Council approved funding for the zoo and more animals were purchased and added to the zoo's collection. The zoo called City Park home until 1910, when it was relocated to Fair Park. In 1912, the zoo moved to 36 acres (15 ha) in Marsalis Park which the city had purchased in 1909, from which it has expanded to its current size.
Under the leadership of Zoo Commissioner William H. Atwell, the zoo acquired many more animals as well as exhibits. In the 1920s, a special Zoo Commission was created by the city and the collection was further developed with the acquisition of numerous specimens from game hunter and trapper Frank Buck. In the Depression Era of the 1930s, the facilities at the zoo underwent extensive renovation funded by the Works Progress Administration.
The zoo is divided into two major regions: ZooNorth and Wilds of Africa. ZooNorth is the original and oldest section of the zoo. The Wilds of Africa region was constructed seventy-eight years after ZooNorth and is accessed from ZooNorth via a tunnel beneath Clarendon Drive. It includes Giants of the Savanna, which was opened in 2010. Visitors can download the Dallas Zoo iPhone app to assist them in navigating the zoo. The zoo app is free and provides information about hours, admission, parking, directions, animals, membership, educational programs, and special events, as well as maps. The zoo is the first in the United States to offer visitors such an app in both English and Spanish.
ZooNorth is the original and oldest section of the zoo. It features a wide range of exhibits such as the Otter Outpost, Galápagos tortoises, and Bug U!. The Hill, one of the original parts of the zoo, was closed as many of the animals there were moved to the new Giants of the Savanna exhibit. One of the more recent additions to ZooNorth is the Wildlife Amphitheater. The Wildlife Amphitheater is home to SOAR! A Festival of Flight. Primate Place features monkeys, with species from Africa and South America. ZooNorth is also home to the Pierre A. Fontaine Bird & Reptile Building where visitors are encouraged to learn about endangered reptiles, amphibians, and what can be done to save them.
Endangered Tiger Habitat
The ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat is a 2-acre (0.81 ha), $4.5 million habitat that opened on May 8, 1999 and resembles a forest in the process of regrowth after logging. A glass viewing area and pathways allow the visitor to observe a Sumatran tiger and a Malayan tiger. The tigers' lush exhibits feature sun and shade, shallow pools with deep channels, running streams with hot rocks, perching rocks, and climbing/clawing trees. The observation area of the exhibit consists of two buildings; House of Tiger and House of Man, designed in the Thai pole house style. The complex acts as a bridge spanning the Valley of the Tiger placing the visitors in the Center of the Tiger's landscape.
The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo in ZooNorth is home to the Nature Exchange, the JC Penney Discovery House, the UnderZone, a petting zoo, and pony rides. It also features an artificial creek that children are encouraged to splash around in.