Dallas World Aquarium

2 Sep

Located in downtown Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium is one of the most unique zoo experiences I’ve encountered.  When it first opened more than a decade ago, it was already impressive, with its indoor rainforest that showcased jaguars, penguins, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, and birds.  But recently, they’ve expanded the facility – doubled it, at least – and it’s absolutely amazing.  All of the original favorites are there, plus manatees, river otters, a huge shark tank, bats, flamingos, sea turtles, etc.  And the vegetation is incredible – look up, and it really feels like you’re in the rainforest.

And of course, as the name implies, it’s also an aquarium.  Several beautiful tanks of exotic ocean creatures display some of the most amazing colors found in nature.  And the tank that houses the manatees (and many other animals) is one of the largest I’ve ever seen.  It can be viewed from above or below the surface of the water.

Though it’s pretty pricey (a one-day ticket for an adult is $20.95, kids 3-12 are $12.95), it’s worth it.  Like any zoo, it’s very kid-friendly.  Plus, it’s a great place to go in the summer, when regular zoos are just too darned hot.  They do offer memberships, which easily pay for themselves in a few visits.

There are three cafes inside the facility.  A sign at the entrance says that no outside food is allowed, but I’ve always smuggled in my own snacks.  (I would imagine that outside food is frowned upon because they don’t want the animals to be fed.)  Because no food should be brought in, there’s not really a picnic area for lunch – if you want to sit down and eat, you’ll have to do so at one of the restaurants.

When you go, don’t forget to check out their daily schedule of feeding times and zookeeper talks.  Feeding time at the shark tank is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!  You can also get up close and personal with the sloth, who lives out in the open in a tree along one of the major walkways of the rainforest area.

Another cool feature – check out the webcams on their site, www.dwazoo.com.  You can watch what’s going on inside the manatee tank or the leafy seadragon tank, 24 hours a day.  It’s almost as cool as being there!

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