(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Since 1888, when the city of Dallas opened the first zoo in the Southwest, animal-adoring families have flocked to see its amazing residents as well as other local delights for animal-enthusiasts. Check out the top five family friendly, fur and feather-filled spots in Dallas.

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Price: $12.00 (January to February) $15.00 (March to May) adults/$9.00 (January to February) $12.00 (March-May) children 3 years old and older
Hours: Daily 9 a.m-4 p.m.

The Dallas Zoo and the 67-and-a-half-foot giraffe sculpture at its entrance brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. With discounts for local DART rail riders and special events such as Boo at the Zoo—even a children’s zoo with hands-on furry fun—birds of all feathers flock here. Inside its gates awaits a monorail system through the Wilds of Africa, past chest-pounding gorillas and sky-tickling giraffes, that’s just as fascinating as the reptiles, mammals and birds of Zoo North. For more details check out our Best of Guide to the Dallas Zoo.

Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Price: $20.95 adults/$12.95 children 3 – 12 years old
2 and younger free
Hours: Daily – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fishing around for something special? Once a warehouse in the historic West End, the Dallas World Aquarium features remarkable eye-catching marine and terrestrial animals. Children will be delighted as they enter a real rainforest biome, are misted with dew, ogled by loud howler monkeys, and enchanted by poison dart frogs, sea turtles and sharks. As they descend into the noisy natural world, birds will pass by in free flight. Other delights include the Japanese Spider crab, which can grow to 13 feet, sharks of all sorts, and even a glass walking tunnel.

Photo Credit: Kena Sosa

Price: $20.00 adults/$10.00 children 7 years old and older (donation)
Children under 7 not permitted

Hours: Daily at 11 a.m., Saturdays additional tours are offered at 3 p.m.   

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The two hour walking tour of the IEAS will educate visitors not only about the animals who live within its territories but also about how to better serve these noble creatures. The staff makes it clear the tigers, white tigers, cougars and black bears that live here are not pets. Many have come from homes where they were “tamed” or came from circuses or other entertainment industries. Tours are normally reserved in advance, so please call ahead.

Photo Credit: Kena Sosa

Price: $16.95 (November to February), $20.95 (March to October) adults/$10.95 (November to February), $13.95 (November to February) children 3 – 11 years old
Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m. to 3:29 p.m.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center brings Africa to Texas. Families can enjoy the comfort of their own vehicles as they take the two- to four-hour safari through the wilderness filled with zebras, bison, antelope, ostriches and even giraffes. Buy food ahead of time at the gift shop to feed animals by hand right through the car window as you cruise the 1,700 acre territory. With 1,000 animals and 50 species, smiles are guaranteed.

Related: Dallas Activities for Kids

Price: $14.25 (online price), $19.00 (door price) adults/$11.25 (online price), $15.00 (door price) children 3 – 12 years old, children under 3 are free
Hours: Mon to Sat – 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Swarms of vivid, colorful fish, sharks, stingrays and jellyfish whish through the water in SEA LIFE Grapevine’s nearly 50,000-square-foot aquarium. Want to see what it’s like to be a fish? Put your head into one of the bubbles inside the tank and find out. Additionally, you can pay five dollars more and do the behind-the-scenes tour in which kids and parents learn about how the food for thousands of sea creatures is prepared every day.

Related: Making a Scene at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science

Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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