Dallas Zoo scores a new baby elephant and more city news
City News Roundup
This roundup of news around Dallas includes a birth at the Dallas Zoo, two farm-related initiatives, two transportation-related items, and a career event for young women.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
A new elephant was born at the Dallas Zoo to Mlilo, one of the elephants taken from their homeland in Swaziland and imported to three U.S. zoos, one of which was the Dallas Zoo, in 2016. The new elephant is a male and was born on February 26. He was sired by Tendaji, also one of the Swaziland elephants.
In its post announcing the birth, the zoo brags that, for the first time, it was a "herd birth," meaning, they allowed another elephant, Zola — also one of the elephants abducted from Swaziland — to be in the space during the birth "just as would occur in the wild."
One supposes this is a positive step for the zoo, which previously might have quarantined the mother to give birth in an isolated metal cell. But as to their claim, sorry but no: Being an elephant stolen from your homeland, plunked into an artificial environment with only a fraction of the space elephants need to thrive, then trapped in a tiny pen to witness a birth, is absolutely not how things occur in the wild.
This is the second elephant birth at the zoo for Mlilo, who sadly was already pregnant when she was taken from Swaziland; she gave birth to Ajabu in 2018. (A birth that the zoo claimed was a "surprise".) Baby animals are a welcome addition for zoos. They represent a major financial boost, since they increase turnout.
Urban life and food
The Dallas City Council adopted the Comprehensive Urban Agriculture Plan (CUAP), to ensure that all communities have access to healthy, local food. Goals include removing regulatory barriers, supporting access to farmlands, and providing access to urban agricultural education and resources. The plan is designed to address the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) which the city adopted in May 2020, to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. "By 2050, it is projected that 89 percent of the U.S. population and 68 percent of the world population will live in urban areas,” says Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability Director Carlos Evans. “The CUAP is an important step towards ensuring that all of our communities have access to healthy local food.”
Samuell Farm has been selected as a 2023 Spotlight by the Leave No Trace organization. As a Spotlight recipient, the 400-acre Samuel Farm - owned and operated by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department - will be the site of conservation activities March 16-18 to help communities learn how to enjoy and protect the outdoors. That includes a Youth Conservation Day on March 17, when more than 400 Dallas youth will participate in conservation projects such as mulching and making butterfly feeders, taught by Leave No Trace and other area organizations.
The Texas Department of Transportation is hosting two opportunities for the public to learn more about a proposed widening plan on State Highway 114 (SH 114) in Dallas and Tarrant counties. The project would stretch along seven miles of SH 114 from International Parkway to Riverside Drive in the cities of Irving and Grapevine. Improvements would include segments of widening, constructing new or reconstructing existing managed lanes, reconstructing some frontage roads and also accommodations for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. An in-person open house is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, 5:30-7:30 pm at the Irving Convention Center, accompanied by an online option that begins at the same time and runs through Wednesday March 29.
New DART bus
Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) first long-range electric bus has begun regular service, operating on Bus Route 20, an east-west bus that runs on Northwest Highway, from Bachman Lake on the west to Garland in the east. It's a 40-foot Proterra ZX5 Max, with a range of almost 300 miles from six lithium-ion battery packs (four mounted under the bus, two on the roof). Inside, it has USB ports to charge mobile devices and two customer information monitors. The bus joins seven Proterra Catalyst 35 zero-emission electric buses, currently in service on DART Bus Route 28.
Young female leaders
Texas Women’s Foundation and the Dallas Mavericks W.O.M.E.N. ERG held a joint event with the Young Women’s Advisory Council in February to share career advice and network with young female leaders. The Young Women’s Advisory Council is a program of the Young Women’s Initiative to empower and affirm young women of color ages 12-24.