If you’re planning a family outing that combines fun, education, and the chance to witness some of the world’s most exotic animals, you’re likely considering a trip to the zoo. But which one should you choose? We’re fortunate in our area to have not one, but two amazing zoos: the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo.

Located in the heart of Dallas, the Dallas Zoo is a beloved institution that has been providing animal encounters and conservation education for well over a century. Similarly, the Fort Worth Zoo in our neighboring city has a rich history and a diverse animal collection that is sure to fascinate visitors of all ages.

Both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo have their unique charms and features. This article aims to provide a detailed comparison of these two fantastic institutions, covering everything from the history, the animals and exhibits, conservation efforts, educational programs, and the overall visitor experience. Whether you’re a native Texan or new to the area, we’re sure this guide will help you make an informed decision about which zoo to visit for your family’s next adventure!


In this section, we delve into the origins of these two renowned zoos. While both zoos share a common goal of wildlife conservation and public education, their histories provide interesting insights into how they’ve grown and evolved to become the institutions they are today.

Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo has a rich history that goes back to the late 19th century.

  • Founded in 1888, the Dallas Zoo is the oldest and largest zoological park in Texas.
  • Originally, the zoo housed just a handful of animals, including two deer and two mountain lions.
  • Over the years, the Dallas Zoo has expanded significantly. Today, it spans over 106 acres and is home to more than 2,000 animals representing 406 species.
  • In 1955, the zoo gained significant recognition when it became the first zoo in the United States to house the offspring of two Yucatan miniature pigs, a rare species at the time.
  • One major milestone came in 2010 when the zoo opened the Giants of the Savanna exhibit, where animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, and zebras coexist in a recreation of the African Savanna.

Fort Worth Zoo

Like its counterpart in Dallas, the Fort Worth Zoo also boasts a long and storied past.

  • The Fort Worth Zoo was established in 1909 with one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock, and a few rabbits.
  • Today, the zoo has grown to encompass 64 acres of land and houses more than 7,000 animals from around the world.
  • In 1992, the Fort Worth Zoo became a privately owned institution, which allowed for greater freedom in expansion and renovation.
  • An important milestone in the zoo’s history was the opening of Texas Wild! in 2001, an eight-acre exhibit dedicated to showcasing the various landscapes and wildlife found in the state of Texas.
  • Another significant achievement was in 2009, when the zoo successfully hatched a Komodo dragon in captivity, the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

These unique histories highlight the growth and development of the Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo over time. They also reflect the zoos’ ongoing commitment to providing quality animal care, enhancing visitor experience, and promoting wildlife conservation.

Animals and Exhibits

One of the primary attractions of any zoo is, of course, the animals and exhibits. Both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo house a variety of animals and have curated exhibits that provide visitors with a unique wildlife experience.

Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals representing over 400 species. This diverse collection of animals spans across two main exhibits: the Giants of the Savanna and the Wilds of Africa.

Giants of the Savanna: This exhibit offers an immersive experience where visitors can observe different species cohabitating, much like they would in the wild.

  • The Savanna houses species such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, and lions.
  • One of the unique features is the giraffe feeding platform where visitors can hand-feed the giraffes—an up-close and personal encounter that’s a hit with both kids and adults.

Wilds of Africa: This exhibit provides an equally captivating experience, boasting six habitats that mimic African ecosystems.

  • The habitats house species such as gorillas, chimpanzees, penguins, and crocodiles.
  • The highlight of this exhibit is the monorail safari that offers visitors an overhead tour of the various habitats.

The Dallas Zoo also takes pride in its conservation efforts, as evidenced by their successful breeding programs for several rare species, such as the Okapi and the Taveta Golden Weaver.

Fort Worth Zoo

Over at the Fort Worth Zoo, you’ll find more than 7,000 animals from a staggering 500+ species. These animals are spread across several themed exhibits, but we’ll focus on Texas Wild! and the World of Primates.

Texas Wild!: This exhibit takes visitors on a journey through various Texan landscapes, ranging from the dry desert to the lush swamps.

  • It houses several species native to Texas, such as black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles.
  • The exhibit also features the “Texas Town”, a replica of an early Texas settlement, providing a historical context to the native wildlife.

World of Primates: This exhibit offers a closer look at the lives of our closest animal relatives.

  • It is home to several species of primates, including orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos.
  • Visitors can observe these animals both from outdoor habitats and through indoor, climate-controlled viewing areas.

The Fort Worth Zoo also stands out with its successful breeding of several endangered species, including the Texas Horned Lizard and the Puerto Rican Crested Toad, helping to bolster their population numbers.

Conservation Efforts

Both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo are more than just places to observe and learn about animals. They’re active participants in conservation efforts, working to protect and preserve the world’s diverse animal species. Let’s explore the conservation programs and achievements of these two institutions.

Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo has a strong commitment to wildlife conservation, both locally and globally.

  • The zoo’s Wildlife Conservation initiative funds and supports over 25 projects in more than 15 countries. The scope of these projects ranges from protecting the habitats of migratory birds in Texas to saving elephants from human-wildlife conflict in Africa.
  • Notably, the Dallas Zoo has had significant success with its breeding program for the Okapi, a species at risk due to habitat loss and hunting in its native Congo.
  • The Dallas Zoo is also dedicated to engaging the community in conservation efforts. Through its Conservation Guide, it provides resources for visitors to learn about wildlife issues and ways they can contribute to conservation efforts from home.

Fort Worth Zoo

Similarly, the Fort Worth Zoo also undertakes substantial efforts in animal conservation.

  • The zoo is involved in more than 40 international and local conservation projects, with a focus on species preservation, habitat protection, and environmental education.
  • One of its remarkable achievements is the successful captive breeding of the Texas Horned Lizard, a species that has seen a significant decline in its population in recent decades.
  • Furthermore, the Fort Worth Zoo encourages community involvement through a range of educational programs. These programs aim to foster an understanding and respect for wildlife, thereby nurturing the conservationists of tomorrow.

Education Programs

Education is a key part of any zoo’s mission. Both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo offer a variety of programs and events designed to educate visitors about wildlife and the importance of conservation.

Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo provides an array of educational offerings aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for wildlife among visitors of all ages.

  • The zoo offers various educational programs including field trips, overnight adventures, camps, and even digital learning for those who can’t visit in person.
  • With a dedicated Children’s Zoo, the Dallas Zoo offers hands-on experiences tailored for young visitors, including an interactive aviary and a nature play area.
  • The zoo frequently hosts special educational events, such as Animal Adventures, where trained staff showcase different animals and share interesting facts about them.
  • Additionally, the Dallas Zoo has established partnerships with local schools to provide science-based curriculum and experiential learning opportunities that align with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo is equally dedicated to educating its visitors about the animal kingdom and the environment.

  • The zoo’s comprehensive educational offerings include camps, school programs, overnight adventures, and even homeschool classes.
  • With programs such as KinderZoo for preschool children and Zoo University for high school students, the Fort Worth Zoo ensures that visitors of all age groups have a chance to learn and engage with wildlife.
  • The zoo also hosts special educational events, including Zoo Keeper Chats, where visitors can learn more about the animals directly from the experts who care for them.
  • Furthermore, the Fort Worth Zoo collaborates with local educational institutions to provide resources and learning experiences that adhere to TEKS standards.

Education is a cornerstone of both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo. By participating in these programs, visitors can deepen their understanding of animals and their habitats, and the role each of us plays in conservation.

Visitor Experience

Visiting a zoo is more than just watching animals. It’s about the overall experience, including access, facilities, and special activities that make your visit memorable. Here’s what you can expect when visiting the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo.

Dallas Zoo

At the Dallas Zoo, visitor experience is a top priority – second only to the animals!

  • Admission: The Dallas Zoo offers a variety of ticketing options, including general admission, group rates, and membership packages that provide year-round access and special benefits.
  • Amenities and Facilities: The zoo provides numerous amenities for visitor comfort, including several dining options, gift shops, stroller rentals, and accessible facilities for individuals with disabilities. For convenience, the zoo also offers a mobile app with a digital map and other useful features.
  • Special Events and Activities: The Dallas Zoo hosts a number of special events throughout the year, such as Safari Nights concerts and holiday celebrations. Furthermore, there are several interactive experiences like giraffe feedings, bird shows, and keeper talks, adding extra excitement to your visit.

Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo also provides an enriching and enjoyable visitor experience, plus it has lots of tree covering which makes it a nice place to walk around during the hot summer months!

  • Admission: The zoo offers various ticket options, including daily tickets, memberships, and discounts for groups. Memberships come with additional benefits like free parking and discounts at zoo shops.
  • Amenities and Facilities: The Fort Worth Zoo is equipped with numerous amenities, such as several dining facilities, gift shops, stroller and wheelchair rentals, and accessible facilities. To help plan your visit and navigate the zoo, you can download the Fort Worth Zoo’s mobile app.
  • Special Events and Activities: The zoo regularly hosts special events, including Boo at the Zoo for Halloween and Zoo Run. Moreover, visitors can participate in unique experiences like the Texas Wild! Petting Corral, keeper chats, and animal training demonstrations.

Both the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo are committed to providing visitors with a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. From their varied animal exhibits to their visitor amenities and special events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.