Zoo Blog - Blank Park Zoo

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Zoo Blog

Find out about the animals, events, behind the scenes information and more from the staff of Blank Park Zoo.

Creature Feature: Eland

Posted on 07/01/2014 at 2:22 PM

Blank Park Zoo is proud to be the home of many large mammals, including Elands. Tragelaphus derbianus is the Elands scientific name. Even though the Elands are considered the least concerned on the IUCN red list there still are cases of over-hunting. This can lead to elimination of Elands in certain areas, but they are still highly populated in protected areas. Blank Park Zoo is delighted to house these animals at the Zoo to keep their species from extinction. 

The Eland is the largest breed of antelope. It is of similar size to as a cow, weighing up to 1,500 pounds. From their shoulders to the ground they stand around six feet tall. Elands have a tan coat that is usually fawn or tawny-colored. Once older the Eland will start to turn a gray or bluish-gray color. You can tell which Elands are the oldest because their coat will turn almost black. Males grow a tuft of black hair located on the fold of skin that hangs down from their neck. Elands have horns that are slightly twisted and rise from the front of their heads. The female’s horns are usually longer and thinner than the male’s horns. Elands can travel in large herds of one hundred or more animals. This breed lives around 15 to 25 years. 

Where do Elands live? Elands live in the open plains, grassland, mountain, subdesert, acacia savanna, and miombo woodland areas. Most of them are located around Africa. Elands try to stay away from swamps, deserts, and forests. 

Elands are Herbivores and mainly prefer to eat vegetables. Elands will browse around and eat in areas where there are shrubs and bushes around. They will use their horns to break down twigs and branches to eat the leaves from. They will sometimes consume some types of fruits, large bulbs, and tuberous roots. 

Come to the Zoo soon and visit with our Eland friends! 



Campout at the Zoo #1 & Iowa Cubs Night

Posted on 06/24/2014 at 2:49 PM

On June 13, 2014 the Zoo was happy to host 41 campers at the third annual Campout at the Zoo! Everyone had fun meeting new people, crafting, making Ants On A Log treats, and going on private tours of the zoo where they met many animals including giraffe, rhinos, tortoises and more! We’d like to give a big thanks to Zoo Keeper Nikki and Zoo Keeper Stacy for leading the tours! Campers also played an animal-themed game and got to hear the rooster’s crow in the morning! The families were able to get the full camping experience from being able to set up their own tent to waking up to the early morning animal coos. This Campout at the Zoo was surely a memorable one!

Go Cubs go! Another fun event the Blank Park Zoo team got to be a part of this month was the Iowa Cubs Night. We were invited out to Principal Park to have our mascot, Wally B, throw one of the first pitches! He also got to take part in the Kum and Go race against 3 other mascots; a hot dog, a koolee, and a bag of chips. Wally B even ended up winning the race (after a shove or two to his competition). Not only did the fans get to enjoy Wally, but we also brought along an alligator and snake from the Zoo for fans to see up close. All in all, Blank Park Zoo has had a very eventful and enjoyable month of June!


Guest Post Creature Feature: Chilean Flamingo

Posted on 06/10/2014 at 10:44 AM

Huge varieties of birds and animals are the asset we can proudly boast of. They add to the biological diversity of the land. It is our responsibility to conserve all those species which inhabit and share our land.  The Chilean Flamingo is a species of birds which has similar characteristics to almost all other breeds of flamingo. This species is often getting misrepresented because of its characteristics which resemble other species. These flamingos are known to converse in goose-like honking or squawking.

The Chilean Flamingo is a little smaller than Greater and Caribbean flamingos. It usually grows up to 3-3.8 feet and weighs slightly less than five pounds. These can be otherwise called the pink beauties since their feathers are pink in color. The tail, chest and wing areas are intense pink in color and the plumage is a pale shade of pink. The beak is white near its face and it turns to black near its tip. The most amazing characteristic of the Chilean flamingo is that there is a pink cap which covers its ankle joints. These joints are designed to help the flamingo to dip its head under the water. That is the way it catches its food from water.

As the name itself indicates, these are mostly found in Chile. This does not mean that they are found only in this location. They may also be found in the Andes, Uruguay and Peru. Like other flamingos Chilean flamingos also prefer shallow waters. Generally the water surrounding these areas is alkaline and there will not be much vegetation.

The Chilean Flamingo is a social creature much like other flamingos. They live in groups, sometimes up to thousands of birds together in a flock. They feed, mate and migrate in huge flocks. They fly with their neck and legs extended fully and in v-shaped formations. While migrating they honk and squawk in order to make sure that they are all together and connected. They stand only on one leg while resting and curl their long necks under one wing. These birds often sleep in water to protect themselves from predators. When they do not sleep, eat or mate, they preen their feathers to keep their bodies waterproof and clean. This activity keeps their feathers in good condition to fly. They face the wind and sleep or rest in order to keep rain and moisture away from penetrating their downy coats. 

Chilean flamingo – Phoenicopterus chilensis

These pink beauties look slender, but they can stand on one leg for hours on end. They can withstand extreme climatic conditions ranging from scorching summers to chilly winters of up to -30 C. 

Mary Rose is a freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience in draft essay writing services online. She enjoys writing about current trends and innovations in education, beauty tips, travelling experience, and about web designing tips. 




Zoo Brew Presented by Hy-Vee

Posted on 05/27/2014 at 4:31 PM

Zoo Brew is back and kicks off next Wednesday, June 4 with the HOME OPENER! For those 21 & over, Blank Park Zoo comes to life after hours every Wednesday in the summer. This popular event features a variety of live music, themes and brews while guests enjoy the animals of the Zoo. The middle of the week is now something to look forward to! 

Zoo Brew admission is FREE for Zoo Members and $11 for Non-Members. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event ends at 9:00 p.m. Samples are first come, first serve and take place during the first 30 minutes of the event. The first 500 visitors will receive a FREE Zoo Brew koozie each week! Be sure to check out the Zoo Brew Facebook page for updates. 

Iowa wineries will be featured on Wednesday, June 18, Iowa breweries on Wednesday, July 16 and Des Moines breweries on Wednesday, August 6. 


Looking to host a private party or have a large group interested in coming out to Zoo Brew? Check out the spaces you can rent! For more information about Zoo Brew rentals email sales@blankparkzoo.org or call 515-974-2506. 

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Hy-Vee and media sponsors KCWI and Cumulus Media!

Questions about the event? Email events@blankparkzoo.org or call 515-285-4722. 

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Conservation in Action: Trash Bash

Posted on 04/29/2014 at 3:25 PM

Last Friday, April 25, Blank Park Zoo participated in Earth Day Trash Bash and invasive species removal projects.

Volunteers remove invasive species at Trash Bash

Earth Day Trash Bash began in 2004 with a few individuals committed to cleaning up the Des Moines area and has grown into a collective project between the cities and citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive as well as Metro Waste Authority, Polk County Conservation, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Water Works.

Last year, volunteers removed 67,000 pounds of trash and 37 pounds of cigarette butts. This year was Blank Park Zoo’s third year involved with Trash Bash. Besides participating in the city-wide project, the Zoo also focused on invasive species removal, specifically honeysuckle and mulberry plants.

Blank Park Zoo’s partnership with the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department helps benefit Iowa’s native plants. Christine Eckles, volunteer manager at Blank Park Zoo, states how removing the invasive plants helps the native species around the metro area: “Removing the honeysuckle will let light into the woodland floor and hopefully promote native plant re-population, which will hold the soils in this area much better and make for healthier woodlands and creeks.”

The Zoo’s animals also benefit from the invasive species removal, as the removed honeysuckle and mulberry is given to some of the animals to play with.  

The giraffe play with the honeysuckle invasive species removed at Trash Bash

Volunteers and staff of the Blank Park Zoo had a great time participating in Trash Bash and invasive species removal for the well-being of the Des Moines area and its native plant species.


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