Stupid things I do: Watch someone shoveling elephant poop

This morning I got up at 6 a.m. to get over to the Dallas Zoo to watch the zoo’s Vice President Sean Green shovel elephant poop. As a bonus, I caught Lydia Jennings, the zoo’s communications and media specialist, also shoveling elephant poop.

Of course, elephant poop gets shoveled at the zoo every day and with five new elephants, the elephant poop has more than doubled. But Sean lost a bet. The St. Louis Zoo bet the Dallas Zoo over the Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars lost, so Sean got to shovel in a St. Louis whatever-their-team-is-called-we-really-don’t-care jersey.

Lydia helped. I know Lydia from other visits to the zoo. So that was a bonus.

But what we really care about are our five new elephants. Two of them, one of the younger females and the six-year-old bull, have been introduced to two of the Golden Girls — that’s what they call the original four female elephants.

The other three older females that have recently come to Dallas are taking their time. Lydia said they’ll meet the others when they’re ready. All of them have been communicating in tones inaudible to the human ear, so they all know about each other already.

Here’s some video of the poop shoveling and photos of two of the Golden Girls — Congo, 38, and Kamba, 36.


—  David Taffet

New elephants gaining weight and adjusting to their new home


Congo and Kamba, two of the zoo’s current elephant residents

The Dallas Zoo gave a progress report and posted the first pictures of our five new elephants — Mlilo, Zola, Amahle, Nolwazi and Tendaji. They range in age from about 6 to 25 years old. Only one — Tendaji — is male.

Their quarantine should be over soon and they’ll be slowly introduced to their new habitat, Giants of the Savannah. We hope to get some of the first pictures of our new Dallas residents once they’re introduced to their new friends.

Zookeepers report the five are enjoying their new diet after being rescued from drought-plagued Swaziland. Several have put on more than 100 pounds since arriving.

They’ve been adding a variety of vegetation to their diets. Upon tasting broccoli, however, one hated it so much, she spit it across the barn.

See the April 1 issue of  Dallas Voice for some other zoo facts and a story about a photo safari that Ben Jones, dean of the Dallas Zoo Wild Earth Academy, will lead.

—  David Taffet

District 1-2-14 Day at the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas City Council’s Three Amigos — Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston — hosted a free day at the Dallas Zoo on Saturday, June 6. Kingston wasn’t there, so Medrano is threatening to replace him as an amigo with incoming District 9 Councilman Mark Clayton.

I went to see one of Dallas’ newest residents — Kipenzi. Mama Katie was keeping a close eye on him.


—  David Taffet

OOCCL presents innovative transportation options for Oak Cliff

Oak Cliff I35

Which zoo would you rather visit?

The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League sent out a concept for what people in what’s now being called “the Southern Sector” would like to see as a solution to transportation.

They used two ideas that have worked well in North Dallas. Of course, they’ve been told it’s too expensive. Wasn’t too expensive for North Dallas, but for Oak Cliff? No fucking way.

The ideas taken from North Dallas are: 1. Put I-35E below grade like North Central Expressway and 2. Deck over I-35E like Woodall Rodgers. No one can argue that downtown’s deck park isn’t successful. It’s always packed.

Above I posted a picture of a before and after of I-35E at the Dallas Zoo. Before: The giraffe faces a highway. After: The giraffe faces a deck park. Which Dallas Zoo would you rather visit?

The design also calls for multiple foot bridges to reconnect neighborhoods that were cut off in 1960 when the interstate was built and returning shoulders to the highway. Another Oak Cliff innovation — put the OAK back in Oak Cliff with massive tree plantings along the right-of-way. Trees. Wow. Radical. City Hall will obviously find a good objection to that one.

Since adding HOV lanes, traffic has slowed and driving on I-35E through Oak Cliff has become much more dangerous. Black paint from cars scraping the barriers rapidly became one continuous line the full length of the dangerous, yet rarely used, lanes. Even people with multiple passengers learned to avoid them. The design includes suggestions for usable HOV lanes.

As usual, OOCCL is coming up with practical solutions that include preserving and helping to find new and creative uses for what’s historic and beautiful while suggesting new and innovative designs to keep Oak Cliff moving forward.

Wanna bet City Hall ignores all these suggestions?

—  David Taffet

Oak Cliff Film Fest runs throughout the weekend

Texas tales

The inaugural Oak Cliff Film Festival gets underway tonight showcasing the local and statewide films with a few national and international screenings to boot. But perhaps the real gem is watching movies in all the cool venues the OCFF is home to. The historic Texas Theatre, the Kessler Theater, Bishop Arts Theater, the Belmont Hotel and even the Dallas Zoo all screen films throughout the festival and make for a different feel. You know, the way Oak Cliff likes to do it.

DEETS: Various venues. $10 per film. The festival runs through Sunday.

—  Rich Lopez

HRC Family Project to host gay day at Dallas Zoo

Lions and tigers and bears aren’t as big a deal as the HRC Family Project’s latest event. The Project will host the LGBT Family Day at the Dallas Zoo on Saturday, which may be the first kind of “gay day” for the zoo. The blog 2 Daddies, 1 Love/2 Mommies 1 Love posted the event details. It’s an all-day affair but families can come and go as they please.

Families will gather at 10:15 a.m. at the carousel for a meet and greet and from there, they can either explore as a group or break off on their own. The group will then meet for lunch at the Serengeti Grill.

But they aren’t limiting it to just families. If you just like going to the zoo, they say you can join as well.


—  Rich Lopez

April 1 is Census Day

Census Bureau

Tomorrow is Census Day. Remember to return your census forms. If you are in a relationship, mark either married or unmarried partner to be counted as a same-sex couple.

To celebrate Census Day, here’s a history of the census figures in Dallas with a Dallas timeline to put the population numbers into some perspective.

Population of the city of Dallas

1841 Dallas founded by John Neely Bryan. (His log cabin is downtown). Population: 1

1849: Dallas Snag (later renamed Dallas Herald) begins publishing

1850 Population 163

1850: Town of Dallas selected county seat of Dallas County

1856: Dallas incorporated as a city

1860 Population 678

1867: First church built in Dallas (by Disciples of Christ)

1870 Population about 3,000

This number comes from several sources but I cannot find why an actual census was not taken in Dallas in 1870.

1872: Sanger Brothers opened first store

1880 Population 10,385

1885: Dallas Morning News begins publishing

1890 Population 38,067

Only time Dallas ranked as the most populous city in Texas

1892: Old Red completed

1894: Parkland Hospital opens on Maple Ave at Oak Lawn.

—  David Taffet