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.

2015 Speaker Series: On the Front Lines

Posted on 01/05/2015 at 10:40 AM

Has winter got you down? Are you longing to see green leaves on the trees and hear the birds sing once again? We’ve got the perfect event for you!

On the first Thursday of February, March and April, join us for our 2015 Speaker Series at Blank Park Zoo. Each night, we will feature a speaker who is out on the front lines of wildlife conservation, fighting to save some of our world’s most iconic species – before it’s too late.

Each evening starts at 6 PM with a cocktail hour and appetizers. You will have the opportunity to meet and chat with our speakers - true conservation heroes. Then, stroll through our rainforest exhibit and feel immersed in a tropical habitat, surrounded by exotic birds, reptiles, mammals and fish.
The presentation starts at 7 PM. Our speakers will take you on a journey to the corners of the Earth, through the fascinating stories of our endangered species, both big and small.  You will learn what challenges these stunning and unique creatures are facing and what WE can do to help them survive.
We have a fantastic line-up this year:

Thursday, February 5 - Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, advocates for U.S. and Canadian policy initiatives, for species such as whales, elephants and lions. He is currently working to get lions listed as endangered to increase their protection.  

Thursday, March 5 - John Calvelli is the director of the 96 Elephants campaign and the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 96 Elephants is an aggressive campaign working to stop elephant poaching for ivory.  

Thursday, April 2 - Dr. Karen Oberhauser, professor in the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, conducts research on several aspects of monarch ecology. She is one of the nation's leading experts on the monarch butterfly. 

Click here to reserve your tickets and don’t wait as these events often sell out! Each attendee will also have the opportunity to win a Behind the Scenes tour at Blank Park Zoo!

Your support of Blank Park Zoo directly helps endangered animals, as a portion of each admission price to the Speaker Series is sent directly to save animals in the wild.

Santa at the Zoo!

Posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:29 AM

10:00 AM Two of Santa’s reindeer arrive at the zoo 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Picture opportunity with Santa himself 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Holiday crafts in the Discovery Center Room 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Spot the bird seed ornaments in the Discovery Center Exhibit 
10:30 AM Macaques enjoy a special snack 
11:30 AM Seal/Sea Lion Demonstration 
12:00 PM Lions, tigers & snow leopards open presents 
12:30 PM Tortoises enjoy a romaine lettuce Christmas tree 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Explore the wonders of the zoo! 


Come out to Blank Park Zoo to visit the animals and enjoy this special holiday event! 

Keep your eyes and ears peeled – Santa and two of his reindeer will be heading to Blank Park Zoo on Saturday, December 6 & 13. When coming up to the entrance, be sure to check out what two reindeer Santa brought with him on his journey from the North Pole. Head inside to create a holiday craft to help decorate your home. Be sure to write Santa a note with your list so he knows what to bring you this holiday season. Follow the path through the Discovery Center to see what treats Santa and his elves left the birds and to see Santa himself!     

Grab your scarves and mittens and head outside to visit your favorite animal friends! Visit the Japanese Macaques and see what special ornaments are hidden on their tree. Depending on the weather, head over to Hub Harbor to see what cool tricks the Seal and Sea Lions have in store for you. Watch the tiger and snow leopard open their gifts and see what they wished for this year. Warm up in the penguin & tortoise building and see what kind of tree Barnaby and his tortoise friends are snacking on! 

Don’t forget to write Santa a letter and drop it in the mailbox! He loves getting notes and reminders of what good boys and girls want for the holidays. There will be the opportunity to write it while at the Zoo or bring one already written. Be sure to write your address on the note so he knows which house to stop at! 

Thanks to our sponsors!


Santa at the Zoo is free with regular zoo admission and free for zoo members. 

The animals like gifts, too! Check out the tree in the lobby with what they are wishing for this year. The animal’s wish lists can also be found on the website at www.blankparkzoo.com/wishlist.

For more information about the event call 515-285-4722 or email events@blankparkzoo.org.

Blank Park Zoo staff and animals wish you happy holidays!


Holiday Parties!

Posted on 11/05/2014 at 2:25 PM


With the holidays just around the corner the Zoo is in full swing for holiday parties and winter meetings! The view from the Discovery Center Room allows for guests to bring the rain forest to their event to escape the Iowa winter weather. With the option to customize the room to fit your size group, the room is perfect for any event all year long. 

If you have yet to book your holiday event, be sure to call in for the winter discount ending on November 15. All rentals will receive 10% off the rental fee. This includes tables, chairs, linens, built-in speakers, signs to direct guests, and an on-site coordinator the day of to take care of all the little details. You even have the option to offer your guests reduced admission to the Zoo, too!

In addition to our indoor Discovery Center Room, Blank Park Zoo offers several other venue spaces for various events throughout the year. Invite your guests to a unique cocktail hour setting in the Aquarium, host a picnic in the outdoor Pavilion, or bring your whole company out to explore the Zoo after hours with dinner for up to 500 guests in the ZooPlex. The Africa Pavilion is the perfect setting for a quaint ceremony or unique cocktail hour. Enjoy appetizers from Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse as the giraffe, kudu, and other African animals join in on the fun!

Contact the Zoo at 515-974-2506 or sales@blankparkzoo.org to book your holiday event today!*

*Be sure to mention this blog post by November 15 to receive 10% off your entire rental fee!




Posted on 09/09/2014 at 10:37 AM

Already missing Zoo Brew? Join us Thursday, September 25 for ZOOKTOBERFEST, an Oktoberfest twist on Zoo Brew! 

Doors open at 5:30 PM and the festivities continue until 8:00 PM. Food will be provided by the Zoo’s Safari Grill, operated by Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse. Follow us on the Zoo Brew Facebook page to get more details on the Grill feature and updates on Zooktoberfest!

Be one of the first 750 guests and you will receive a Zooktoberfest koozie! Free samples will be available while they last, so make sure to right at the beginning. Samples include: Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider, Newcastle Werewolf, Sam Adams Oktoberfest and Jack-o-traveler Pumpkin. To go along with the samples, check out the pretzel necklace making station. 

Starting at 5:30 PM, Omaha-based Barry Boyce Band will heighten the celebration – their performances include a variety of ethnic music featuring old-time German, Czech and Polish polkas. The three-man band features Barry Boyce on piano accordion, button accordion and vocals. You can often find them at Hessen Haus!

It would not be Zooktoberfest without the animals of Blank Park Zoo. With the early September sunset, Blank Park Zoo’s outdoor animals will be out until 6:30 PM for the safety of the animals and the keepers. The Discovery Center will be open until 8:00 PM for you to visit the Zoo’s aquarium, birds and reptiles. You will also have the chance to meet several of the Zoo’s small critters and furry friends that are used for education all around the state and at the Zoo.

Zooktoberfest is the first of the Oktoberfest Des Moines celebrations! Be sure to head downtown to continue the party September 26 & 27. From 3:00 PM to 1:00 AM there will be live polka music, authentic food, contests, a tented beer garden and more! For more information about Oktoberfest Des Moines or to purchase tickets visit www.oktoberfestdsm.com

German beer, live music, Zoo animals, fun with friends –Zooktoberfest will be the Oktoberfest event of the fall! Zooktoberfest is for adults 21 and over!

FREE for Zoo members
$7 for Non-Members

Click here to purchase tickets! We will honor unused 2014 Zoo Brew Groupon tickets.

Bridal Sneak Peek

Posted on 07/28/2014 at 2:34 PM

Blank Park Zoo is excited to announce their second Bridal Sneak Peek of the year on August 29, 2014! The event allows engaged couples to meet with the event coordinator, catering manager, and explore the decorated venue spaces around the Zoo.

Already have a wedding venue? No problem! The Zoo’s preferred vendors will be out offering incredible discounts and prizes to the brides and grooms in attendance on August 29. The Zoo will even be giving away $500 in credit towards one lucky couple’s wedding at Blank Park Zoo. 

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse will be providing appetizers and drinks as couples and their guests make their way through our Pavilion Ceremony space, Indoor Reception Room, ZooPlex Reception space, cocktail hour locations, and bridal suite. It is the perfect event for any couple as they plan their dream wedding!

Special Events, Scratch Cupcakes, and Pure Bridal are just to name a few of the vendors that you will experience while attending the event. Bridal Sneak Peek is free for the bride or groom and two guests. Additional guests will be $5 per person. Questions? Feel free to call 515-974-2506 or email sales@blankparkzoo.org.


For more information and to register for the event, visit www.blankparkzoo.com/bridalsneakpeek.


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