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TinoPup does Dallas (and Fort Worth and Denver)

Discussion in 'United States' started by TinoPup, 30 Jul 2018.

  1. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    My Tuesday evening flight from Philly to Dallas got cancelled, so I ended up leaving from Reagan instead and having a 5 hour layover in Denver. Just enough time to check out the Downtown Aquarium! My flight got in at 330, so there was no chance of going to the zoo instead (gates close at 4). I’m normally over-prepared for trips and wish I had looked up the airport’s website that morning, because I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get out of there, costing me considerable time. To help matters, Uber told me to meet my driver at a door that no longer exists. I lost more time in trying to save money and going with an express pool Uber (sharing the car with someone else). There were several accidents going into the city and the other couple got dropped off at a hotel 20+ minutes out of the way for me… my trip in to the city took nearly 3x as long as my trip out, and we picked up a third person on the way out, as well. I was left with about 45 minutes once I paid for my ticket.

    The aquarium itself was nicer than I was expecting. It is clean and well-kept, with easy to read signs. There’s just the one path to follow, great for my time crunch, and the major exhibits are staggered throughout. I speed walked most of it but managed to take 217 photos with my phone, somehow, including photos of every single identifying sign. I’d say at least half of the fish have signage, with some tanks naming every species and others only naming one or two. The otter, Olive, was a typical playful, silly otter who was having lots of fun in her enclosure; it’s a good size for being indoors, and there’s a ramp to a small area with hay, etc. if she wants to nap. The exhibits were rather immersive, with plenty of plantlife, decorated walls, etc. to emulate the look and feel of natural environments, as opposed to just having tanks. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the indoor Tiger enclosure but it’s larger than some outdoor exhibits I’ve seen, with plenty of rocks and levels for climbing and exploring. Only one was out but he was mostly splashing in his pool by the glass. I was glad to see sawfish, and they have several impressively sized specimens. It was definitely worth the visit.

    Species with signage, in order:
    Sunfish (Lepomis sp.)
    Crappie (Pomoxis sp.)
    Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
    Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus)
    Buffalo Fish (Ictiobus sp.)
    Walleye (Sander vitreus)
    Sturgeon (Acipenser sp.)
    Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys temminckii)
    Rio Grande Cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus)
    Razorback Sucker (no latin name given)
    Humpback Chub (Gila cypha)
    Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus Lucius)
    Rio Grande Chub (Gila Pandora)
    North American River Otter ((Lontra Canadensis)
    Kokanee Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
    Musky & Pike (Esox. Sp.)
    Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
    Arctic Grayling (Thymalius arcticus)
    Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
    Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus)
    Greenback Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias)
    Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
    White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)
    Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
    Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)
    Pupfish (Cyprinodon sp.)
    Butterfly Splitfin (Ameca splendens)
    Tequila Splitfin (Zoogoneticus tequila)
    Cortez Rainbow Wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum)
    Scissortail Chromis (Chromis atrilobata)
    Cortez Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)
    Woma Python (Aspidities ramsayi)
    Emerald Tree Boa
    California King Snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)
    Piebald Chuckwalla (Sauromalus varius)
    Bonaparte’s Gull
    Caspian Tern
    *no signs for fish in shorebird exhibit*
    Barred Flagtail (Kuhlia mugil)
    Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium sp.)
    Bluespotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii)
    Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus)
    Creole Fish (Paranthias furcifer)
    Blackbar Soldierfish (Myripristis Jacobus)
    Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus)
    Passer Angel (Holacanthus passer)
    Tarpon (megalops atlanticus)
    Graybar Grunt (Haemulon sexfasciatum)
    Seahorse (Hippocampus sp.)
    Green Moray Eel (Gymnothorax funebris) – HUGE ones!
    Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos)
    Horse-eye Jack (Caranx latus)
    *several other eel species*
    Popeye Catalufa (Pristigenys serrula)
    Scythe Butterflyfish (Prognathodes falcifer)
    Giant Grouper
    Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)
    Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)
    Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus)
    Grunt Sculpin
    Striped Surfperch
    Spot Prawn
    Silver-spot Sculpin
    Painted Greenling
    Penpoint Gunnel
    Decorated Warbonnet
    Green Urchin
    Potbelly Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)
    Surfperch
    Rochfish (Sebastes sp.)
    Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus)
    Sea Urchins
    Sea Stars
    California Sea Cucumber
    African Cichlids
    Red Belly Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
    Poison Dart Frog
    Freshwater Stingrays (Potamotrygon sp.)
    Pacu (Colossoma mmacropomum)
    Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)
    Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)
    Tigerfish (Datnioides microlepis)
    Clown Knifefish (Chitala chitala)
    Giant Gourami (Osphronemus gorami)
    Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
    Barramundi (Lates calcarifer)
    *exhibit included turtles and rays*
    Rainbowfish (Melanotaennia sp.)
    Ghost Catfish (Kryptopterus minor)
    Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis)
    Asian Yellow Pond Turtle (Mauremys mutica)
    Malayan Box Turtle (Cuora ambionensis)
    Spotted Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii)
    Blue and Gold Macaw
    Upside-down Jelly
    *missed a few amphibian exhibits here*
    Fire Belly Toad (Bombina orientalis)
    Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornate)
    Clownfish
    Sea Anemones
    Four-eyed Fish (Anableps anableps)
    Archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix)
    Rockmover Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus)
    Blue Hamlet (Hypoplectrus gemma)
    Colonial Cup Coral (Tubastrea spp)
    Sea Apples (Pseudocolochirus violaceus)
    Dart Fish (Ptereleotris zebra)
    Barracuda (can’t read the sign for latin name)
    Circular Batfish (Platax orbicularis)
    Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum)
    Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
    Green Sawfish (Pristis zijsron)
    Brown Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)
    Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharius Taurus)
    Moon Jellies (Aurelia aurita)
    Lion’s Mane Jelly
    Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
    Wolf Eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus)
    *several fish and star species*
     
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  2. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    For my first day in Dallas, we went to the World Aquarium. The building is easy to notice and impressive on the outside, covered in vegetation to look like a jungle. The entrance is a little harder to spot and I saw several families walk right by it; the plants are thick and the path nearly blends in. The entrance path itself is rather long and winding, with several species of birds in mostly half-moon shaped tall exhibits along the way. The tree kangaroo is just past the ticket area and a lot of people were walking right by to the ticket-checker without noticing. The shoebill is also in the same area. The Little Blue Penguins were just past the ticket-checker, and while their exhibit is interesting looking – a very long, slim rectangle – there’s only a small part you can stand next to and the couple of penguins were, of course, at the far end.

    I don’t think photos really do this place justice. It is massively impressive. The paths in each of the connected buildings wind up or down, so you can often look and see other exhibits from above or below. The manatee pool, for example, is viewable from high up, water-level, and then below, with other occasional glimpses. In the middle of the pool is a fake tree that goes from floor to ceiling, with saki monkeys climbing from top to bottom, playing in the branches and grooming one another at the top.

    My plan was to take photos of signs again, but that quickly went out the window due to busy-ness and being so in awe of everything. New toucans were in the first exhibit on the left, and the giant anteater wasn’t out, sadly. After a bit of walking, there’s a very well placed drink vendor, just in time for a cool drink after you’re getting tired of the heat. Right before it is a sloth, hanging out on some branches just above your head, not in an enclosure.

    The path continues to wind down, through otters and lots of birds, and the “scary” area – vampire bats, anaconda, and spiders in a group area together, but thankfully skippable (bats for me, snakes for my friend). After the crocs (which most thought were fake, for some reason) and an archway you’re at the water-level of the manatee area. I LOVED the manatee tank! There is a towering waterfall, the aforementioned tree with monkeys, and lots of large fish mixed in with the mammal. The bottom is rocky, as well, making it look very natural instead of the typical sea mammal tank that’s a blue rectangle. Labeled species include Redhook myleus, Fork-snouted catfish, Red-tailed catfish, Golden dorado (many with chewed up fins and tails), Pacu, Arrau side-necked turtle, Polka-dot stingray, and Arapaima. The Arapaima and catfish specimens are MASSIVE, easily the biggest non-shark fish I’ve ever seen.

    The path then gets a bit confusing, with your options being to go in the gift shop or down a set of stairs that looks more for workers than visitors. I knew we were missing a hell of a lot and the gift shop looked like the main one you’d see at the end, so took a chance on the stairs that no one seemed to be using, which ended up being the correct way. The bottom ends at the underwater viewing for the manatee. I spent a considerable amount of time watching them all swimming around.

    There’s only one way to go from there, into an area with nice tanks along the walls representing different locations around the world. Nice to see Canada represented for once! There’s a restaurant and a small bookshop. My friend was having vertigo issues so went into the bookshop and out the back to watch the penguins, while I did (what I thought was going to be) a loop around of more of the same country-based small tanks. Nope! Suddenly everything turned brown from blue and I was in a desert-like environment underground. Instead of birds, this area mostly has reptiles and amphibians, with the occasional owl or rabbit and of course some fish tanks. The shark tunnel is seriously impressive, and a sawfish was hanging out right on top. The path then moves up – I was able to run past the bats – and into another large, open former warehouse. I was finally able to see the flamingos that I’d viewed from some other point. The ocelot exhibit was also here, along with the impressive Harpy eagle (I’d never seen one, wow!) and the above viewing for the shark tank, set up to look like a limestone cenote. The path then ends at the large gift shop seen earlier. We ended up having to loop back down again, because the exit is by those country-based tanks. It’s kind of strange. The manatee was hanging out in the corner right at the front of the glass, though, so I got some great photos of her. She was playing with a log and it was adorable.

    I’d say the major cons for me were the lack of bathrooms (the ones they do have are usually hidden, as well), the early closing time (4pm year round), and the lack of signage. They really need to do some sort of signage that allows them to easily switch out what they have, so that they can update when they change species. A few enclosures had electronic signs with multiple species that you could click on to learn more about them, but there was only ever one per exhibit and they were usually in use; 2 weren’t working at all. I have no real idea of what birds I saw and didn’t see, for the most part, which is disappointing. I plan on going back and taking photos of each sign next time! The restaurants also close at 230, which seems incredibly early. The manager of the one near the exit was super nice and let us sit and eat just after 3, because I asked if they closed at 4 with the aquarium or not. Thankfully there was a bratty child refusing to eat her food and parents insisting she couldn’t leave until she did so we weren’t the last ones there. The food was wonderful and super cheap, my salmon was only $13.50.

    Friday morning we got up early to drive to Houston. My plan had been to go to the Houston Zoo after dropping stuff off at the hotel and getting situated at the dog show, with the aquarium as my back up if the heat was too overbearing. Unfortunately I started having chest pains soon after we arrived. I have quite a few health issues and usually know what I can handle but I’ve never had chest pains before, and after talking to the medic at the NRG Center it was decided that I shouldn’t do much of anything for at least the rest of the day. The pains were gone by the late evening, thankfully, but I’m really sad that I missed out on the zoo.
     
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  3. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    On Monday we went to the Dallas Zoo. We had a hard time getting in, because the GPS took us to the entrance but *not* to the long drive you have to take to get in the fence. My friend didn’t feel well so just dropped me off. I specifically wanted to go on Monday or Tuesday because I wanted to see the cheetah encounter show, which started at 10am and I got there at 930, so I hightailed it up the path to the area where it takes place. By the time I got there my right calf was killing me, my Delaware legs are used to flat and most of it was uphill! Of course, once I got there, there was a sign saying it was cancelled. So, so disappointing. There was a keeper watering plants in front of the area who apologized about it, and told me that the male they use had a few ticks that morning so he was getting checked out by the vets. She suggested I come back at the end of the week, and when I explained that I couldn’t, she radioed over to the carnivore keeper and asked if they could use cheetahs for the show instead of lions (they alternate between them) for me. That was so nice of her to do. That show started at 1030 and was in the other section of the zoo, back near the entrance and through the tunnel, so I set off speed walking again.

    The tunnel is filled with images taken by Joel Sartore on the concrete going from floor to ceiling, which was a nice touch. The keepers tried to get the cheetahs up for me for the show, but even with lots of banging and shouting they weren’t getting up from their naps, so the lions were used. It was still very impressive, with the lions showing off some of the tricks they know, like standing on their hind legs and stretching to show their paws and bellies to their keepers and opening their mouths for inspection. I usually skip keeper shows and whatnot, they’re always busy and filled with kids, but this was seriously impressive and I’m glad I made it!

    Once the show was over and I’d thanked the keepers for trying for me, I did a quick look at the giraffe area before backtracking a bit and starting with the gorilla trail. There are two large gorilla areas with lots of vegetation and things to do. The baby wasn’t out, or wasn’t visible at least, but two others decided to hang out in front of the glass, stretching out on their backs to pick their noses and sniff their armpits and do other primate things. The Forest Aviary had a lot of interesting species and kept my attention for a while. The chimps have a massive enclosure, the biggest I’ve seen, with a crazy jungle gym for them to climb on. Just about every species Dallas has was in the biggest enclosure I’ve seen for it, barring drive-through safaris. The klipspringers, meerkats, storks, etc were all out and either resting in a very visible area or being active.

    The hippo area is fantastic. It is gigantic, with plenty of above ground and underwater viewing spots. Hippos around here usually have mostly concrete areas with small pools, so this exhibit was literally breathtaking. I highly doubt there’s a better hippo exhibit out there.

    After the hippos, I happened to pass by the encounter stage right before the flamingo show so I stuck around. Very, very disappointing that I was the only one there who knew that if the first three Caribbean flamingos were named Aruba, Jamaica, and Bermuda, that the 4th would be named Bahama! I’m honestly afraid of birds and Aruba made me jump about a dozen times by suddenly squawking while I was focused on taking photos, but she was a delight. I’d love to check out more of their shows if I had the time.

    After that, I received my second major disappointment of the day – the monorail was closed due to the engine overheating. No ungulates for me, which I love L The grill by the elephants was also closed, along with several food stands, which was a bit of an issue for me regarding hydration. I started stocking up at places instead of just buying one or two things... I probably spent $40 on drinks, but I didn’t want to risk having a heat stroke or fainting from dehydration, both things I’m prone to.

    I then went back to the elephants, and wow. Their area is ENORMOUS. It’s something you really have to see to believe. One of the females was in the front pool, playing with two logs. Further up, a female and her young calf went charging into a different water area with a third elephant keeping its trunk over her back. When they came back out of the water, it became clear what was going on – the third was a male and he “wanted to play choo choo”, the kids around me decided. The poor baby had to stand there and wait while its mom shrugged him off and then took a massive dump at his feet. They then went back in the water, splashing and rolling about, before having dirt baths.

    The giraffe area is similarly impressive. The feeding station is great, with the alpha male rarely leaving the area, and there’s a bridge that lets you walk right next to a few of the others. There’s also zebra, kudu, and ostrich in the enclosure, but they were so far off that they were barely visible. After hanging out with them for a while and getting some great photos I stopped by the cheetah exhibit again and found one sleeping right next to the glass, so I got some photos there, hooray. The glass at each exhibit was clean and well-kept, with any handprints easily wiping off (so they were recent) instead of being caked on. Something a lot of zoos overlook but it makes a big difference to people like me taking photos, as well as to the overall clean appearance.

    The mandrills were mostly hiding and the penguins weren’t swimming, so I went back under the tunnel to ZooNorth. I never did see a single lemur out. I went counter clockwise, stopping first at the Children’s Zoo. It’s well thought-out and would be really nice if I had a kid. There’s one building that has stuffed animals and whatnot to teach kids about not littering (stuffed birds with nets around their necks, a fox with its head in a can), along with basic care and husbandry behaviors. The petting area is nice and is set up to rotate animals, so no goats or sheep get tired from constantly being bothered. I didn’t see any horses in the barn but there was a large cow, some Flemish Giant rabbits (love those!), an owl, and an adorable armadillo running about. There’s also a walk-through aviary, but it’s limited to 15 people at a time and a large group was going through so I skipped it.

    I stopped at the café, which had great sandwiches, before continuing on to the primates. This is clearly an older part of the zoo but their enclosures are still very nice and spacious. The path then goes left, to the tiger area. There’s multiple viewing points, with a large glass window being the main viewing spot. The area is heavily forested and I never saw a tiger, but I can’t be positive that there wasn’t one in there.

    This is the part where I talk about bathrooms. I have IBS, and the heat can really set it off as well. “It” hit me while I was looking for the tiger, and I had to nearly run past the otters and to the closest bathroom. The Dallas Zoo has seriously nice bathrooms! I’d stopped in a few others and they were all very clean and modern, with some being single-use locations. The one I ended up in, near the kid’s train ride, was another single-use. It was very spacious, with faux hard wood floors, a window with a screen to look out, and plenty of hand towels. Definitely a toilet I didn’t mind spending an hour in! And thankfully the café was right by with lots of toilets, so I didn’t feel too terrible the couple of times people checked to see if it was open or not. Dallas does a wonderful job trying to keep people cool, as well. Several areas – elephants, gorillas, hippos – have large buildings that are moveable doors on 3 sides that only contain comfortable seating and blast air conditioning. Shops are kept cold, as well, and there were several large misting areas set up. At no point did I feel like I was really pushing myself.

    Once I felt it was safe to leave, I headed over to the Herpetarium. Like the rest of the zoo, the place was impressive. A room within the building is set up to look like a bayou and contains the American alligators, including an albino, plus a few snakes. The rest of the snakes have large enclosures, with several having ones bigger than any snake exhibit I’ve seen. I was able to see every single species that was labelled, a rare feat. While I normally don’t like children, I love talking to them in reptile houses and helping them find the snakes, frogs, etc. after giving them some time to find the animals themselves. They always seem to really enjoy and appreciate the reptiles.

    After the herps I walked around and got to see a Giant Anteater, one of my favorites, along with some birds of prey, including another Harpy Eagle. I skipped the little bug building, I wasn’t sure if it was open, and spent some time in the gift shop buying stuff and talking to the friendly employees before catching an uber back to the house.

    Birds seen:
    Abdim's Stork
    African Fish Eagle
    African Grey Parrot
    African Penguin
    African Spoonbill
    African White-backed Vulture
    American Wigeon
    Amethyst Starling
    Andean Condor
    Argentine Lake Duck
    Bald Eagle
    Black Vulture
    Blue & Yellow Macaw
    Blue-Bellied Roller
    Brown Pelican
    Buff-crested Bustard
    Canvasback
    Caribbean Flamingo
    Cattle Egret
    Cockatiel
    Common Shelduck
    Congo Peafowl
    Eastern Brown Pelican
    Great White Pelican
    Green Woodhoopoe
    Hadada Ibis
    Hamerkop
    Harpy Eagle
    Helmeted Curassow
    Helmeted Guineafowl
    Hooded Vulture
    Hottentot Teal
    Jackson's Hornbill
    King Vulture
    Kori Bustard
    Lady Ross's Turaco
    Lappet-faced Vulture
    Lesser Flamingo
    Maguari Stork
    Marabou Stork
    Marbled Teal
    Northern Pintail
    Northern Shoveler
    Ostrich
    Palm-Nut Vulture
    Red Shoveler
    Red-and-yellow Barbet
    Red-crowned Crane
    Red-legged Seriema
    Sacred Ibis
    Saddle-billed Stork
    Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat
    South American Comb Duck
    Southern Ground Hornbill
    Southern Screamer
    Speckled Mousebird
    Speckled Pigeon
    Spectacled Owl
    Spur-winged Lapwing
    Superb Starling
    Taveta Golden Weaver
    Violet Turaco
    Vulturine Guineafowl
    Waldrapp Ibis
    Wattled Crane
    West Indian Whistling-Duck
    White-backed Vulture
    White-cheeked Turaco
    White-faced Whistling Duck
    White-headed Buffalo Weaver
    Wood Stork
    Wreathed Hornbill

    Herps seen, mostly in the herpetarium:
    African Bullfrog
    African Clawed Frog
    Aldabra Tortoise
    American Alligator
    American Bullfrog (off exhibit)
    Argentine Racer
    Aruba Island Rattlesnake
    Banded Rock Rattlesnake
    Barnett's Lancehead
    Barton Springs Salamander
    Beautiful Pitviper
    Black Breasted Leaf Turtle
    Black Mamba
    Black Tree Monitor
    Black-spotted Newt
    Blue Poison Dart Frog
    Blue-legged Mantella
    Blue-tailed Firebelly Newt
    Brazilian Lancehead
    Broad Banded Copperhead
    Brown Forest Tortoise
    Bullsnake
    Bumble Bee Dart Frog
    Bushmaster
    Cape Cobra
    Cave Salamander
    Central Blue Tongue Skink
    Chinese Alligator
    Crocodile Monitor
    Dyeing Dart Frog
    Eastern Green Mamba
    Egyptian Tortoise
    Emerald Tree Boa
    Eyelash Viper
    Fiji Island Banded Iguana
    Fire Salamander
    Flat-tailed Tortoise
    Forsten's Tortoise
    Galapagos Tortoise
    Giant Leaf-Tailed Gecko
    Gila Monster
    Golden Poison Dart Frog
    Grand Cayman Rock Iguana
    Gray-banded Kingsnake
    Green Bush Ratsnake
    Green Mantella
    Green Tree Monitor
    Green Tree Python
    Green Tree Skink
    Hellbender
    Inland Taipan
    Kaiser Newt
    King Cobra
    King Ratsnake
    Komodo Dragon
    Long-nosed Viper
    Mangrove Snake
    Mangrove Viper
    Mangshan Pit Viper
    Meller's Chameleon
    Mexican Axolotl
    Mexican Beaded Lizard
    Moellendorff's Ratsnake
    Moroccan Cobra
    Mossy Frog
    Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko
    Nile Crocodile
    Olive Python
    Palestine Viper
    Panamanian Golden Frog (off exhibit)
    Pan's Box Turtle
    Phillippine Tree Skink
    Prehensile-Tail Skink
    Puerto Rican Crested Toad
    Rainbow Boa
    Red Eyed Tree Frog
    Red Spitting Cobra
    Red Spotted Pitviper
    Reticulated Python
    Samar Cobra
    Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko
    Sedge Viper
    Sharp Nosed Viper
    Shingleback Skink
    Solomon Island Leaf Frog
    Southern Ridgenosed Rattlesnake
    Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake
    Speckled Forest Pitviper
    Spider Tortoise
    Splashback Poison Dart Frog
    Sri Lankan Pit Viper
    Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake
    Taylor's Cantil
    Taylor's Shield-Tailed Lizard
    Temple Viper
    Tentacled Snake
    Texas Blind Salamander
    Texas Horned Lizard
    Texas Rattlesnake
    Tiger Salamander (off exhibit)
    Timber Rattlesnake
    Tomato Frog
    Tuatara
    Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana
    West African Green Mamba
    Western Bush Viper
    Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
    Western Gaboon Viper
    Wetar Island Viper
     
    Last edited: 30 Jul 2018
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  4. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    For my last day we went to the Fort Worth Zoo, which my friend was familiar with. It’s a great zoo, but a bit disappointing compared to Dallas. We did the primate area first. I was a bit dismayed at the small size of the indoor orangutan area, with no climbing opportunities. The baby gorilla was hanging out by itself near some glass, though, so we were able to enjoy it licking a stick over and over J The quality of the glass was poor in most areas, with many scratches on the inside and so many hand prints on the outside that I couldn’t wipe off anything for better photo-taking.

    The new savanna area is gorgeous, and as previously stated, would have been breathtaking if not for visiting Dallas the day before. It’s easily the second best giraffe/savannah type exhibit I’ve seen. There are a few zebra mixed in, along with some pelicans, guineafowl, and kudu that didn’t have access to the main area for some reason. The black rhinos have large areas and were difficult to see; one was even hiding behind a rock, so only the top of his back was visible. The hippo area is gigantic, with a neat underwater viewing area and a surprising 4 hippos in it. There’s no above-water viewing area, though. Another second-place to Dallas IMO. Signage in the savanna is also a bit confusing.

    Once you loop around the new area, you pass back by the elephants and walk along a single path along the narrow length of the zoo. The Asian Trail was underwhelming, other than the One-horned Rhino areas that have a waterfall and pools that you view from above. There is a lot of attention paid to their white tiger, which I’m not a fan of. The lions have two very small areas with very little to do in each. Most of the exhibits are similar. The walk-through aviary has parakeets, cockatiels, and canaries… things you can see plenty of at any petsmart. You can purchase feeding sticks, but they get fed all day long and by 11am none of the many birds were interested and people were passing the untouched sticks from person to person as they left.

    The Australian area didn’t live up to my expectations, either. The little aquarium building was nice but nothing to write home about, and the only other animals were 2 red kangaroos in the back of their area and a few galahs and parrots. The Texas area was nicely done, though! My only real issue is it’s hard to figure out what building holds what, because they stuck with old saloon type signs and window décor but the places are actually gift shops and cafes. For kids, there’s a few games you can play that seemed popular. The petting zoo looks like it’s going to be amazing. I was disappointed to not see the swift fox, and there were a lot of cob webs in the enclosure including over all of the log hiding areas. The burrowing owls were actually burrowing, though, which was neat. There was only one white-tailed deer out. I didn’t see the wolves – does anyone ever see the wolves? – but I at least saw the coyote, who was molting terribly. There was a nice, small collection of local birds, including a “walk through” aviary that really only has room for a few people to stand there. Bird-wise, I think every species they had also lives here in Delaware. I did have a nice chat with the keeper at the horseshoe crab touch tank, at least, and the pool with the pelicans, spoonbills, and scarlet ibis was quite nice. I skipped the indoor walkthrough exhibit because of the bats, even though I wanted to see the snakes.

    It’s pointless to walk back to the front instead of taking the train once you’ve done the animal-lined path down, because the only other path just has picnic tables and a few food carts. The train back to the entrance was weird. It’s really, really, REALLY long, but very rickety. There’s some little scenes set up along the ride of mannequins doing Texas themed scenes, which reminded me of the awful fright fest type things farmers set up around here in their cornfields, trashy and sad. The ticket vendor for the train informs you that no animals are visible from the train, but you actually pass two large bird enclosures, a secretary bird and I forget the other; both birds I would have liked to see closer, or at least not in quick passing from a train.

    The train drops you off by MOLA. It’s a very nice, new building with plenty of reptiles, amphibians, and bugs and fish. The saltwater crocodile and gharials both have large pools with several viewing spots each. Many of the species are the same as Dallas’s, but they were still nice to see again, especially the rarer snakes and ones that are more Texas-specific. I tried one more attempt at seeing the Bongo before leaving but it was barely visible, still.

    After seeing a few cheetah items in the front gift shop I asked the employee about them and found out the new savanna took over their home L He thinks they will be bringing the species back with the new elephant exhibit in 2 years, though. Overall Fort Worth is an extremely nice zoo, but given the choice between it and neighboring Dallas, I would choose Dallas.

    Birds seen:
    African Pygmy Goose
    Abyssianian Ground Hornbill
    African Penguin
    American Robin
    Andean Condor
    Australian Brush Turkey
    Bald Eagle
    Bar-headed Goose
    Barrow's Goldeneye
    Black Vulture
    Black-bellied Whistling Duck
    Black-necked Swan
    Blue-throated Macaw
    Brazilian Spectacled Owl
    Bronze-winged Duck
    Brown Pelican
    Bufflehead
    Burrowing Owl
    Cape Teal
    Caribbean Flamingo
    Chilean Flamingo
    Chiloe Wigeon
    Cockatiel
    Congo Peafowl
    Demoiselle Crane
    Eclectus Parrot
    Emerald Starling
    Eurasian Wigeon
    Falcated Teal
    Galah
    Great Argus Pheasant
    Great Blue Turaco
    Greater Roadrunner
    Green Jay
    Harpy Eagle
    Herring Gull
    Hooded Merganser
    Hottentot Teal
    Hyacinth Macaw
    Indian Spot-billed Duck
    King Vulture
    Laughing Gull
    Lesser Bird of Paradise
    Lesser Flamingo
    Lorikeet
    Madagascar Crested Ibis
    North American Ruddy Duck
    North American Wood Duck
    Northern Bobwhite
    Northern Pintail
    Ocellated Turkey
    Ostrich
    Palm Nut Vulture
    Parakeet
    Plush-crested Jay
    Radjah Shelduck
    Red-bellied Woodpecker
    Red-breasted Merganser
    Red-fronted Macaw
    Redhead
    Ring-necked Pheasant
    Roadrunner
    Rockhopper Penguin
    Roseate Spoonbill
    Rosy-billed Pochard
    Saddle-billed Stork
    Sarus Crane
    Scarlet Ibis
    Scarlet Macaw
    Smew
    Southern Pochard
    Storm's Stork
    Sunbittern
    Sunda Wrinkled Hornbill
    Swainson's Hawk
    Taveta Golden Weaver
    Toco Toucan
    Tufted Duck
    Violet Turaco
    Wandering Whistling Duck
    Wattled Crane
    White Pelican
    White-headed Buffalo Weaver
    White-naped Crane
    White-necked Raven
    White-winged Dove

    Herps seen:
    African Pancake Tortoise
    Aldabra Tortoise
    Amazon Milky Tree Frog
    Amazon Tree Boa
    American Alligator
    Annam Leaf Turtle
    Banded Rock Rattlesnake
    Bavay's Giant Gecko
    Beaded Lizard
    Beautiful Pitviper
    Big-eyed Treefrog
    Boelen's Python
    Budgett's Frog
    Burmese Python
    Bushmaster
    Caiman Lizard
    Chinese Crocodile Lizard
    Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle
    Common Spider Tortoise
    Crocodile Monitor
    Crocodile Skink
    Desert Grassland Whiptail
    Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
    Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
    Egyptian Tortoise
    Evergreen Toad
    Fly River Turtle
    Four-horned Chameleon
    Frilled Lizard
    Gharial
    Gray-banded Kingsnake
    Green Anole
    Green Basilisk
    Green Toad
    Green Tree Monitor
    Green Tree Python
    Guatemalan Palm Viper
    Haitian Giant Anole
    Haitian Giant Galliwasp
    Hourglass Frog
    Humpheaded Lizard
    Indochinese Serrated Turtle
    Iranian Harlequin Newt
    King Cobra
    Komodo Dragon
    Kweichow Crocodile Newt
    Lake Titicaca Frog
    Lance-headed Rattlesnake
    Leaf-tailed Gecko
    Lemur Leaf Frog
    Louisiana Pine Snake
    Madagascan Tree Boa
    Mandarin Ratsnake
    Mantella
    Mata Mata
    McGregor's Pitviper
    Mexican Alligator Lizard
    Mexican Axolotl
    Mexican Leaf Frog
    New Caledonia Giant Gecko
    New Guinea Snapping Turtle
    Painted Terrapin
    Panamanian Golden Frog
    Pan's Box Turtle
    Philippine Sailfin Dragon
    Philippine Tree Skink
    Poison Dart Frogs
    Puerto Rican Crested Toad
    Quince Monitor
    Red-bellied Walking Toad
    Reisinger's Tree Monitor
    Ridgenose Rattlesnake
    Rio Cauca Caecilian
    Saltwater Crocodile
    Sambava Tomato Frog
    San Esteban Chuckwalla
    San Esteban Spiny Iguana
    Savanna Side-necked Turtle
    Savu Island Python
    Shield-tailed Agama
    Side-striped Palm Viper
    Smoky Jungle Frog
    Solomon Island Leaf Frog
    South American Map Frog
    Southeast Asian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle
    Speckled Forest Pitviper
    Spider Tortoise
    Spiny Tailed Lizard
    Spotted Pond Turtle
    Springs Salamander
    Sri Lankan Tree Viper
    Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake
    Tentacled Snake
    Texas Coral Snake
    Texas Indigo Snake
    Thai Bamboo Racer
    Usambara Mountain Viper
    Utila Island Spiny Iguana
    Vietnamese Leaf-nosed Snake
    Vietnamese Lichen Frog
    Wagler's Viper
    West African Dwarf Crocodile
    West African Gaboon Viper
    West African Green Mamba
    White-lipped Island Pit Viper
    Yellow-spotted Climbing Toad

    Labelled fish:
    Angelfish
    Arapaima
    Asian Bonytongue
    Bala Shark
    Banner Fish
    Barbs
    Blacktip Reef Shark
    Boeseman's Rainbow Fish
    Brain Coral
    Butterflyfish
    Catfish
    Chinese Algae Eater
    Clown Knifefish
    Clown Tang
    Clownfish
    Congo Tetra
    Convict Tang
    Coral Beauty
    DamselFish
    Danio
    Dragon Goby
    Dwarf Giant Clam
    Emperor Angelfish
    Epaulette Shark
    Featherduster Worm
    Flying Fox
    Four-eyed Fish
    Galaxea Coral
    Garden Eel
    Giant Pangasius Catfish
    Gourami
    Hatchetfish
    Horseshoe Crab
    Jewel Cichlid
    Kribensis
    Loaches
    Long-spined Sea Urchin
    Lookdown
    Mandarinfish
    Needlefish
    Neon Damselfish
    Orbiculate Batfish
    Pacu
    Pecos Pupfish
    Plate Coral
    Plecostomus
    Pompano
    Powder Blue Tang
    Purple Firefish
    Rainbow Trout
    Rasbora
    Red-tailed Catfish
    River Stingray
    Seven-spotted Archerfish
    Siamese Flying Fox
    Silver Arowana
    Silver Barramundi
    Silver Dollar
    Spotted Wobbegong
    Staghorn Coral
    Sunfish
    Synodontis Catfish
    Tetra
    Tilapia
    Twinspot Goby
    Upside-down Jelly
    Wrasses
    Zebra Haplochromis

    Anthropods seen:
    Asian Praying Mantis
    Australian Spiny Leaf Insect
    Brazilian Birdeater Tarantula
    Dead Leaf Mantis
    Flamboyant Flower Beetle
    Giant Waterbug
    Haitian Cockroach
    Malaysian Jungle Nymph
    Millipede
    New Guinea Spiny Stick
    Scorpion
    Spotted Diving Beetle
    Tailless Whip Scorpion
    Water Scorpion
    White Spot Assassin Bug
     
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  5. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    My flight home was also cancelled, so now I've got a couple hundred in airline vouchers. I don't really have the money to do a big trip, so I'm planning on flying out one day, going to a zoo the next, and flying back on day three. I think the zoo will be Omaha.
     
    BigNate likes this.
  6. BigNate

    BigNate Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Hopefully a Zoo
    This would be my choice as well, as long as you've already seen the San Diego zoo
     
  7. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    I actually haven't, but San Diego really isn't in my budget, unfortunately. If I knew I'd be getting these airline vouchers I wouldn't have spent so much on my Texas trip! But their entry fee alone is a chunk for me right now, especially given they don't do the AZA reciprocity program, and I figure if I'm going to go out there for the zoo, I need to do it when I'm also able to do the safari park, sea world, and a whale tour or something. My tentative plan is to go in a year or two, once they have platypus :)
     
    BigNate likes this.
  8. d1am0ndback

    d1am0ndback Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Texas, United States
    I'm glad you enjoyed your visit, but where on Earth did you get information the aquarium closes at 4? The aquarium closes at 5 year round, and this is not a recent change. Also, did you check the map for restrooms? They are very clearly marked on it and Iv'e never had problems finding them because of that. Don't worry about missing the signage for the birds, many are unsigned, so my strategy is to take pictures of any bird I find I can't readily recognize (especially free flight), which allows me to know exactly what species I have seen there. Were you able to find the ornate hawk eagles, crested eagle, and tyrant hawk eagles? All of them are among my favorites at the aquarium, but none of them are easy to locate.

    Also, I'm pretty sure the "exit" you found was the member entrance (for when it's crowded and you want to skip a line), the exit is located to the right of the main gift shop (as you are leaving Mundo Maya).
     
  9. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    ... I have no idea. Until your post, I would have bet money that it closed at 4. I'm pretty meticulous with planning, double check stuff everywhere, write things down, etc. and I know I did all of the planning based on it closing at 4. I just looked again at all the sources I used and they all say 5. It's a mystery!

    Bathrooms are well marked on the maps, but not in person; I mostly kept my map in my bag so that I could carry my camera (and the delicious peach drink I got after the three toed sloth).

    I definitely didn't see the ornate hawk eagle, I was looking for it. I might have seen the crested eagle, it looks very familiar, but I wouldn't swear to it. No clue on the tyrant hawk eagles. I didn't see most of the mammals they have listed, which was a little disappointing; particularly the agouti and rock hyrax. I really wish I'd been able to take my friend's great digital camera but it was too short notice and her brother had it.

    The exit we used had an exit sign and other people were going out that way, haha. The map has the main exit as being kind of behind where the cottontails are? I definitely don't remember seeing it there. From the main gift shop I remember exits to each of the two main areas and I think the main entrance? But nothing marked as an exit. Definitely confusing.