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.

Guest Post Creature Feature: Chilean Flamingo

Posted on Jun 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 May 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. 

Sponsored By


Media Sponsors




Conservation in Action: Trash Bash

Posted on Apr 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.


Blank Park Zoo's Walking Club Starts May 1!

Posted on Apr 22, 2014 at 12:19 PM

What better way to get fit than to do so while in the presence of some of the world’s most captivating animals? Walking Club is one of the many perks that comes along with being a Blank Park Zoo member. Designed specifically for Zoo members, Walking Club is a fun opportunity for you to get outside and move among Iowa’s wildest creatures.

Participate in Walking Club on the Zoo paths throughout the week and log your distance any time during the Zoo’s business hours throughout the summer. You can also enjoy early entrance to the Zoo on Thursday mornings at 8 am, before the Zoo opens and becomes crowded with visitors. This allows for a peaceful walk in a quiet setting, although you may hear the animals as they wake up in the morning!

Learn more and register for Walking Club today!

Walking Club is in session May-September and the kickoff for our 2014 season will be Thursday, May 1 at 8 am. Come and meet zoo staff and other walking club members while enjoying small snacks and refreshments.  

Take a walk on the wild side and get fit at Blank Park Zoo!  

Conservation in Action: Prairie Chicken Translocation

Posted on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Because of the Blank Park Zoo’s partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Zoo staff recently had the opportunity to spend a few days assisting with the trapping and translocation of greater prairie chickens from western Nebraska to southern Iowa and northern Missouri – conservation in action!

This is part of a multiple-year program to support the disappearing wild prairie chicken population still remaining in Iowa, with the goal that this unique “symbol of the prairie” could become self-sustaining. The species was once found across the state, but was extirpated at the turn of the century due to land-use and habitat change, along with over-hunting. In the 1980s, the IDNR translocated hundreds of birds to Iowa, but by 2010 it was estimated that less than 30 remained.

The prairie chicken translocation project is a local project and is part of the Zoo’s Coins for Conservation. Did you know that a portion of your daily admission or your membership goes to support Blank Park Zoo’s Coins for Conservation projects?

Since 2010 when the prairie chicken translocation project began, Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the Nebraska Fish and Game to relocate prairie chickens from Nebraska to southern Iowa. The Zoo has bought GPS tracking devices to track the chickens to monitor their movements and conduct research on prairie chicken populations. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has permission from Nebraska Fish and Game to trans-locate 50 males and 50 female chickens to Iowa.

This year’s trapping project ran from April 1-11, with two groups of staff traveling to Nebraska. The prairie chickens were caught and driven back to Iowa the same day of their capture. 

“The focus on re-establishing a population of Greater Prairie Chickens in Iowa is also beneficial to other grassland dependent species…and it is a local conservation project we can physically participate in,” says Kevin Drees, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at Blank Park Zoo.

This “in the wild” conservation project is one way that the Blank Park Zoo can be intimately involved in assisting wildlife, part of the mission of a modern zoo.

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