“OTTERS!”And with that one simple yell, two sleek Giant river otters rocketed out from their den, over the log separating their private area from the viewing pool and into the water, sending splashes up the glass. Beneath the draping tendrils of lush Amazon vines, the Dallas World Aquarium otter keeper answered questions fired at her from the growing crowd as she pitched chucks of fresh fish toward the comical pair.
Like with any trip, weather can throw a kink into the best-made plans so having a rainy day backup plan is essential. Especially in the South. So when thunderclouds loomed overhead on our weekend jaunt to Dallas, we opted for a day spent downtown among the neon-colored poison dart frogs, jewel-toned manakins, and glittering fish of the Dallas World Aquarium.
The trek through DWA begins in the canopy of the Orinoco Rainforest. Trills and throaty croaks of free-flying toucans, mot-mots, and ibis pierce the constant murmur of the seven-story waterfall. Red-handed tamarin and pale-faced saki monkeys lazily maneuver through the branches high above Monkey Island.
Before descending closer to the rainforest floor, saunter into Sloth Forest, a resounding favorite of visitors of all ages and creeds. Here, just high enough to be safely out of reach but close enough to inspire wonder, Leno, the brown-throated three-toed sloth, casually watch the ebb and flow of the Dallas World Aquarium guests passing beneath their perches.
Leaving the upper canopy, venture into the Understory, home to DWA’s ever-playful Giant otters. This mother and daughter pair remain a testament to the ongoing conservation efforts dedicated to bringing this species back from the brink of extinction.
Continuing through the Understory, speckled poison dart frogs, massive green anacondas, and obscure vampire bats line the trail leading to the river. Before diving beneath the surface, glimpse the brooding Orinoco crocodile lounging in the shallow waters.
Slide below the water’s surface and marvel as an Antillean manatee leisurely freestyling around the lagoon and along the panoramic viewing glass. (Want to watch a live feed of DWA’s Manatee Cam? Click here!) Next, follow the path to the many exhibits of brilliant tropical fish from the warm waters of Palau to New Guinea, Indonesia to Southern Australia.
Descend yet another level and enter the mysterious Mundo Maya. For a fish-eye view of the sacred cenotes, enter the shark tunnel where brown sharks, sawfish, and blacknose sharks stalk the waters around and above you. (Wonder what that’s like? Click here for a look into their Shark Cam!) Leaving the dark, foreboding cenotes, ascend into a brilliant world of color in Dallas World Aquarium’s last level.
A flamboyance of flamingos – yes, that’s the correct name! Fabulous, right? – brighten the trail leading to the Jaguar Temple. Come face to face with the fabled jungle cat revered in much of ancient Mayan lore. Turn around and search the heights for a pair of Harpy Eagles, whose five-inch talons rival those of a grizzly bear. And amid these impressive predators soar a myriad of brilliantly colored birds ranging from the minute violet-crowned hummingbirds to stately scarlet macaws.
Lastly, admire a waddle of blue penguins (I know! It just keeps getting better) from the gift shop before exiting. After hours of admiring every color of the rainbow from every corner of the world, it may be difficult to face the gray skies lingering outside.
But no worries! There are plenty more ways to brighten your rainy day in Dallas while visiting downtown. Here are just a few:
Dallas World Aquarium Hours and Admission:
- Opened seven days a week (except Thanksgiving and Christmas)from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Admission is $20.95 for adults and $14.95 for child two years of age up to 12.
- Two and under get in free. Senior Citizen admission is $16.95 Military Admission is $18.95
- 1801 North Griffin St. Dallas, TX 75202
- Phone: (214) 720-2224
For driving directions please click here