Zoo Blog - Blank Park Zoo

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

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. 

Sponsored By


Media Sponsors




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.


Blank Park Zoo's Walking Club Starts May 1!

Posted on 04/22/2014 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 04/18/2014 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.

Home School Earth Day at Blank Park Zoo!

Posted on 04/11/2014 at 11:51 AM

On Tuesday, April 22, Blank Park Zoo will host our first ever Home School Earth Day! In conjunction with the launch of Plant.Grow.Fly., Home School Earth Day will give children the opportunity to help pollinators like butterflies and bees thrive. This event will be fun for the whole family to enjoy!

For nearly a decade, Blank Park Zoo has offered one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for home-school families with our unique drop-off program for children of all ages. With hands-on experiences and up-close encounters with Zoo animals, the Zoo offers science-based curriculum that incorporates a broad range of themes about animals and their environment.

The Zoo offers home school classes for children ages 5-12 with about 15-20 kids per class.  For older children, the Zookeeper class is for those interested in working with animals someday. This popular class is limited to eight children, giving them the opportunity to help with the daily care and feeding of the Zoo animals.

The Zoo reaches nearly 300 children per year with our home school education programs. They are such a hit that kids return year after year!

Blank Park Zoo Education Specialist Amy Kopatich says that Home School Earth Day will be a fun, new opportunity to get the entire family involved with the Zoo’s home school classes.

“This is a great way for the whole family to enjoy spending time at the Zoo and doing Plant.Grow.Fly. activities together. And, it will be a great way for the parents to meet and talk with some of their children’s teachers,” Amy says.

The activities on Home School Day will be centered around pollinators, like butterflies and bees. Stations will be set up around the Zoo for families to explore, with educators helping facilitate activities like showing children how to plant their own pollinator gardens at home. You’ll also get to see some of the Zoo’s education animals, attend keeper chats and more.

Plant.Grow.Fly. believes no effort is too small and that each and every one of us can do our part to help pollinators thrive just by planting butterfly gardens in our yards. At Home School Day, you will get a chance to learn all about this project and potentially register your garden and become a part of the butterfly mission.

Register your family for Home School Earth Day today!

Interested in learning more about home school opportunities? Find out more about Home School Earth Day, our classes or setting up your own private program around a specific theme by contacting Amy at amkopatich@blankparkzoo.org.

Education Specialist Amy Kopatich with
Amborro, the Zoo's macaw used for
education programs


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