Blank Park Zoo releases its spring and summer lineup for 2013

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Blank Park Zoo releases its spring and summer lineup for 2013


Blank Park Zoo announced today its spring and summer lineup that includes the grand opening of a $4 million Africa exhibit that will feature rhinoceros, eland, kori bustards, spurred tortoise and an aviary with African birds.

For Immediate Release
(Scroll to bottom for Zoo B-Roll)

DES MOINES, Iowa (February 12, 2013) - Iowa’s only accredited Zoo announced today its spring and summer lineup that includes the grand opening of a $4 million Africa exhibit that will feature rhinoceros, eland, kori bustards, spurred tortoise and an aviary with African birds.

“There will be more going on at the Zoo than ever before,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo. “In addition to literally ‘tons’ of new animals this year at the Zoo, we will be holding many events that Zoo fans love. You’ll want to ‘Do the Zoo’ many times this summer.”

 Blank Park Zoo will also continue its expansion efforts with construction of a new camel exhibit in the front entrance of Blank Park and a new indoor home and winter viewing area for penguins and Aldabra tortoises.

 Here’s a list of happenings at the Blank Park Zoo this spring/summer:

  • Jaama Kwa Africa- Blank Park Zoo’s new exhibit will be a ‘connection to Africa’ this summer. Not only will the public see many new animals, they will experience Africa through the theming elements and educational interactives. The aviary is based on a home. The exhibit also includes a Maasi hut and a pavilion for education programs. (Opens May 4)
  • Cinerous Vultures- This Eurasian vulture is among the largest of the true birds of prey in the world and will take up residence with Blank Park Zoo’s white handed gibbons.
  • Bactrian Camels- This camel not only doubles the ‘humps’ of the dromedary camels Zoo visitors are accustomed too at the Zoo’s camel ride but also is much larger and hails from desert regions of Mongolia and China.
  • Critter Corner- The Critter Corner is a new place in the Zoo where our education animal collection can go outside and meet the public and enjoy the sun when they are not traveling around the state as the Zoo’s ambassadors. (times and hours vary based on travel schedule)
  • Return of Expanded Zoo Hours – Due to popular demand, Blank Park Zoo will be returning to its expanded summer hours, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. beginning May 1. (May through September) 


  • Field Trip Pricing- Blank Park Zoo is continuing its $2 price of Kindergarten through grade 12 field trips. School groups that wish to participate must pre-register at and be from a recognized school.
  • Summer Safari Day Camps- expanded all-day camps will return this summer for children ages 5-13. Half-day camps will also be available for children ages 3-6. Registration for camps begins March 1.
  • ZooTots- Join some furry, feathery, slimy and fuzzy animal friends in an exciting, hands-on adventure. We will read books, make crafts, and eat some yummy animal snacks.  Classes are held at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Ages 2-4 with an adult (Now through February 23, register at; Classes are also held in the fall)
  • Zoo Tots Cooking- Classes consist of exciting cooking lessons right here at the Zoo. Each week, you and your toddler will cook a treat and participate in fun activities.  These classes will be held on Fridays at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Ages 2-4 with an adult. (Now through March 1, register now at; Classes are also held in the fall)
  • ZooTunes-  ZooTunes is a music class for ages 6 mo.-2 years with an adult. Participants in this class will sing songs, play instruments, dance, join in hands-on activities, and enjoy animal visitors.  Adults will be actively involved in the class, helping to engage the young children in music.  Classes will be held alternating Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Classes are about 30-45 min. in length.  (Now through February 27, register now at; Classes are also held in the fall)
  • Zoodlers! is a drop off class for children, three - five years of age. Children will attend every Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday for four weeks. Classes will be held from March 11-April 18 from 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  During Zoodlers!, children will participate in fun games and crafts, explore the Zoo, read a story, have a snack and meet an animal friend!  Zoodlers! is a great way to get ready for pre-school and spend some time at the Blank Park Zoo! Children must be potty trained.
  • Teacher Workshops- Blank Park Zoo is a leader in state-wide education and will be holding workshops at locations throughout the state to help train teachers on issues of environmental conservation and animal science.
  • Library Programs- Every summer, Blank Park Zoo educators hit the road with animals and travel to 180 libraries in Iowa for summer education programs.
  • STEM- Blank Park Zoo is teaming up with the Iowa Math & Science Education Partnership to be a location for “Parents Night Out.” The event will take place in October. 


  • Eggstravaganza- Kicking off Blank Park Zoo’s 2013 event season is “Eggstravaganza.” Children embark on a safari Easter egg hunt. Some of the animals will participate in an egg hunt of their own. Photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny will be available. Plus check out our twitter page beginning March 25 for clues about the Golden Egg Hunt. (March 30, 2013)
  • Out of Africa: Our Journey to Save Okapi, Lion & Rhino- Blank Park Zoo is excited to announce three conservation events in 2013 focused around three majestic African animals. The evening events include John Lukas speaking on saving okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (February 28, 2013), Dr. Amy Dickman (March 28, 2013) will talk about her work with lions and large carnivores in Africa and Bill Konstant (April 25, 2013), program officer with the International Rhino Foundation, will talk about the threats to and efforts to save the Rhinoceros.
  • Walking Club- Blank Park Zoo will be a wild place to exercise this year starting in May. (more details to be released soon)
  • Adventure Days- This summer families will enjoy added education, activities and themes during four Saturdays with Adventure Days at Blank Park Zoo. This year, themes revolve around the concept of healthy living, including healthy people (May 11), healthy planet (June 8), healthy minds (July 13) & healthy animals (August 10).
  • Zoo Brew returns with even more fun evenings every Wednesday this June, July & August. Each 21-and-over event will feature beer or wine sampling, live music and, of course, all of the animals at Blank Park Zoo. The event is FREE with paid Zoo Admission and free to Blank Park Zoo Members. 
  • Gators on the Green- Help Blank Park Zoo continue its mission of conservation, education and recreation by participating in this golf tournament. After all, where else in Iowa can you golf while viewing ‘real’ alligators on the green! This event is held about a week before the Principal Charity Classic, so participants will enjoy some of the improvements made to the course before the Classic. (Wakonda Country Club, May 20, 2013, $300 single, $1,200 foursome, $2,000 foursome with hole sponsorship).
  • ZACC Conference- Blank Park Zoo is excited to host the 2013 Zoos and Aquariums: Committing to Conservation conference.  This biennial conference provides opportunities for zoo and aquarium personnel and field researchers to meet and develop partnerships that benefit wildlife and wild places around the globe. The mission of the ZACC conference is to encourage and promote increased involvement of zoos and aquariums in support of field conservation - locally, nationally and internationally. (July 8 through July 12, 2013, registration at
  • Campout at the Zoo- This outdoor overnight adventure will be an unforgettable night with Blank Park Zoo’s animals. Enjoy the Zoo after hours to see animal behaviors you may not have seen before, plus campfire stories, s’mores, interact with the Zoo’s small animal friends and more! (June 21, 2013)
  • Rhino Rampage- Lace up your shoes for 5k race, an obstacle challenge or a kids dash. This one-of-a-kind course through Blank Park Zoo includes something for the whole family – whether you feel up for a jog, a walk, an obstacle course or a dash. (June 15, 2013)
  • I Do at the Zoo Bridal Show – Blank Park Zoo is inviting soon-to-be brides to meet dozens of vendors in the wedding industry. The ZooPlex will be set up with vendor booths including DJs, local cake shops, dress boutiques, photographers, and more! Blank Park Zoo will be featured as the location venue. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse will provide food samples. (May 5, 2013)
  • Zoobilation- Our annual gala is returning this September. Whether guests enjoy the Zoo for the animals, education or conservation, this event will allow guests to support your favorite aspect while enjoying cocktails, food stations and fun entertainment. (Friday, September 20, 2013)
  • Zooktoberfest- Zoo Brew is back for one last blast with an Oktoberfest twist. This event features the best seasonal beers, Oktoberfest-style food, live entertainment and the animals of the Zoo. Ages 21 and over only. (Wednesday, October 2, 2013)
  • Night Eyes- Everyone’s favorite trick-or-treat event returns this October for its 23rd straight year of “merry not scary” fun. Over 500,000 treats will be passed out at the number-one family Halloween event. (October 17-20, October 24-27, 2013)
  • Santa at the Zoo- This international celebrity is rumored to make another appearance at Blank Park Zoo with a couple of his reindeer friends. Plus, watch animals open some of their early presents from Santa - they have been waiting all year! (December 7 & 14, 2013, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)


  • Blank Park Zoo, Living History Farms & Science Center of Iowa Tri Membership Pass- This is the eighth anniversary when three great Iowa non-profits combined forces to offer a unique pass for the greatest attractions around. For only $219, a family can experience the fun and excitement of all these attractions for a whole year.
  • Blank Park Zoo Membership - The $89 Blank Park Zoo family member pass will be the best value to return for each of the Zoo’s new attractions. In addition to free, year-round admittance to the Blank Park Zoo and free or discounted admission to 160 other zoos, this year members will receive one free train ride and bring one additional guest for free (one guest per family membership) on “Member Mondays.” Members also receive free admission to Zoo Brew.


  • Group Safari Packages- Blank Park Zoo is perfect for family reunions, company picnics and meetings, group outings and more. Enjoy all the animals and activities the Zoo has to offer. Ask about our special group tours and meal packages.
  • Weddings – Say ‘I do’ at Blank Park Zoo.  The Zoo is the perfect venue for a unique and memorable wedding.  From an intimate ceremony in the aquarium, to renting out the entire Zoo for your guests, Blank Park Zoo will make the wildest wedding day dreams come true. Blank Park Zoo has booked over 30 weddings for 2013. Dates are still available.
  • Birthday Parties- The best place to take the kids is now the wildest place for a birthday party. Check out for details.


  • ‘Wild’ Summer Jobs- Blank Park Zoo will be seeking to fill over 70 seasonal positions this summer in the areas of guest services and education. Potential applicants can find more information at, or attend a job fair at Blank Park Zoo on March 16, noon – 4 p.m.
  • Volunteers- Volunteers work in many areas of the Zoo including horticulture, exhibit interpretation, Kids’ Kingdom, events and more. Visit for more information.

About Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. seven days a week this winter. Winter Admission rates are $7 for adults, $3 for children under 12, and $6 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at . The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.





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