Gary and I don’t leave town often. It’s not that we don’t like to travel. It’s just that weekend trips tend to leave us tired, broke, and behind on our usual weekend chores. This weekend was no exception, but we figured that since I’d been home all week at least our usual chores were done. So, we set off for the Dallas World Aquarium.
First of all I have to say that it was raining, raining, raining. I thought we’d be inside and wouldn’t have to worry about it. Well, the entrance is a winding ramp that is mostly covered with plants and stuff, but there are places where you can get awfully cold while waiting in line! And a couple of the “inside” exhibits are actually open to the elements, so I wouldn’t recommend going on a rainy day. However, that didn’t stop the hundreds of people who joined us Saturday, because we were literally “elbow to elbow” with people all through the exhibits. I tried to be pleasant and enjoy the experience, but I have to admit that a couple of times I remembered quite clearly why we left the city!
The DWA is not cheap. The tickets are $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors, and $8.95 for children. (Parking was $5.) Compared with other zoos and aquariums we’ve visited I think it’s a bit overpriced. The Tulsa Zoo is $6.04, $4.03, $3.02. The Oklahoma Aquarium is $12.95, $10.95, $8.95. The OKC Zoo is $7, $4, $4. But those are also farther away from us.
The DWA is part rainforest/zoo and part aquarium. It’s arranged in levels to exhibit the canopy level of the rainforest, the understory level, and the aquatic level. If you want to see examples of some of the exhibits you can visit their site: Dallas World Aquarium.
What impressed me about the experience was how incredibly wonderful the animal world is and how much of it remains a mystery to us. We go about our daily lives with cats and dogs and cattle and birds and give very little thought to how many thousands of animals exist. We don’t think about how even the tiniest creatures help keep our world delicately balanced so that everything functions. As I stood in front of one of the underwater exhibits and gazed at the corals and anemones and urchins I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. How wonderful that God created such beautiful creatures! And the fish! The colors were mesmerizing. In the Southern Australia exhibit the leafy seadragons drew an open-mouthed crowd of children and adults. The seadragons look like giant seahorses with leaves and stems covering their bodies. I don’t recall ever seeing one before or even knowing that they existed.
That was the wonder of the day. I read lots of magazines and books. I watch the news. I’ve been to several zoos and aquariums and animal exhibits. But with all that experience, there are hundreds of animals I’ve never seen. Many that I’ll never see. But I saw at least a dozen new ones yesterday! And it felt like a privilege. A humbling privilege.
That’s the purpose of places like the DWA. Their field guide says that part of their mission is to “help instill an appreciation and understanding of our interdependence on the Earth and its fragile ecosystems.” We tend to be a bit arrogant about our place in the world, and certainly about our role in nature. It’s humbling to see just how much of it survives without us. However, many of the world’s creatures are threatened or endangered by our lifestyle. They won’t survive without help. I noticed that the DWA is involved in a specialized program called Species Survival Plan. Their endangered animals are clearly identified. It’s good to know that groups are working to protect and breed these animals and return some to their natural habitats so that our children and grandchildren will be able to appreciate them.
So, despite being tired, broke, and wet, it was a good day and a worthwhile experience. However, next time I think I’ll stay in Oklahoma and head to OKC or Tulsa.