The Dallas Zoo's mission statement explains its desires to give people a better understanding of biological diversity and create programs that foster conservation. The zoo supports its efforts through fund raising and promoting public awareness and participation. The Dallas Zoo is the largest zoo in Texas. The zoo stands on nearly a hundred acres of land and is home to thousands of animals. It was founded in 1888 as the first zoo in the southwest.
Visitors who first arrive to the zoo are greeted by a sculpture of a giraffe that stands over 67 feet tall. The giant giraffe sculpture prepares the visitor for the large zoological experience ahead. There are four main areas at the Dallas Zoo. The areas are the Entry Plaza, Children's Zoo, Wilds of Africa, and Zoo North. In the entry area visitors will find an information station, a place to get tokens for rides, an elephant fountain, and a carousel propped in the middle of the entry area called the Endangered Species Carousel. The first animal experience is the Lemurs which are located near the carousel. Lemurs are critically endangered primates that come from Madagascar, Africa. A placed called the Zoofari Market is located in the entry area and is the zoo's souvenir shop.
The second area in the Dallas Zoo is the Wilds of Africa area. The area is divided into five different land terrains. The five terrains are forest, mountain, woodland, desert, and river. A large mixture of animals can be found on the five terrains which all merge together to form one area. Visitors navigate through the terrain by walking on the Nature Trails provided. The Wilds of Africa area is also home to the Crocodile Isle, Acacia Springs Aviary, Penguin Cove, and Gorilla Conservation Research Center.
Zoo North has the most diverse range of animals in the entire zoo. Animals from several different continents are represented in the Zoo North area. There is an Australian Outback territory, a place for the Galapagos Tortoises, Flamingo Pond, Primate Place and an area called The Hill where viewers can spot black rhinos and endangered cheetahs. There are several animal-housing facilities in the area as well. Tthe Bird and Reptile Building, Large Mammal Building and Bug U Building are all located in Zoo North. The zoo's main food court is located in Zoo North and is the Prime Meridian Food Court. Burgers, salads, sandwiches, hotdogs are also served at Prime Meridian.
The final area at the Dallas Zoo is the Children's Zoo area. The Children's Zoo area is far more interactive and provides a hands-on approach for children interested in learning about animals. There is a farm, pony trek, and place for toddlers to have fun and engage with a variety of animals. The Discovery House in the kid's area provides a place for children to play games, and have fun with arts and crafts. Dallas Zoo also encourages event rentals for birthday parties.
The zoo has a firm belief in conservation and actually has breeding programs established for endangered species. In order to raise money for its conservation efforts the zoo has instituted an Adopt an Animal program. Individuals and groups can participate in the program and adopt their favorite animal at the Dallas Zoo. Adoption costs start at $25 and can go up to $2,000 per year depending on the animal adopted. Educational programs for kids, adults, and families are also available and aimed at broadening the individual's perspective on the importance of conservation.