Texas is known for its incredible assortment of animals. From its plentiful longhorns to its alligator-infested waters, the state is home to a bountiful wildlife. One of the best spots for exploring the Lone Star state is the world-famous Zoo Texas. Founded in 1896, the Zoo is the 12th-largest in the United States. Among its residents are over 250 species of animals representing nearly all the world’s terrestrial vertebrates. If you love animals, you can’t miss a trip to Zoo Texas!
Though the bulk of the attraction centers on its inhabitants, the Zoo also boasts an incredible variety of plant life. Visitors are able to view over 500 species, including trees, shrubs, and flowers that thrive in the warm climate of Texas.
One of Texas’ most recognizable landmarks is the Mansion House, the historic white building on the left side of the Square in the capital city of Austin. It was the favorite getaway of John H. Hill, a railroad tycoon who lived in the city. After building the famous Carousel Hotel, he wanted to establish a hunting lodge as a celebration of his wealth. Hill came up with the idea to build a hunting lodge in the wilderness of East Texas and invited his friends to join him. They came up with the idea of creating a getaway for folks who wanted to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy the wilderness. He purchased thousands of acres of land in present-day Upshur County and named the estate “Cote de Texas.” After John Hill died in 1919, his son, John Hill, Jr., sold the property to Will Rogers, who built the landmark Mansion House as a hunting lodge.
Why Go The Zoo In Austin?
The most obvious reason to visit the Zoo in Austin is to see the animals. At the time of my visit, there were over 250 different species living in the Zoo, including red pandas, eagles, and black bears. My personal favorite was the giant anteater. Unfortunately, I was there during the off-season, so most of the animals were in their habitats, which weren’t as appealing as up close and personal with a cougar, a tiger, or a black bear. The keepers did their best to make up for it by letting me get up close and personal with a spider, a snake, and a giant rat! Though I’d like to visit the Zoo annually, I try to avoid going in the offseason because the crowds make it hard to appreciate the animals’ natural behaviors.
What Will I See At The Zoo?
The main attractions at the Zoo are the animals themselves. Like I said earlier, visitors are given a peek into the lives of the creatures that they’ll never experience firsthand. The most popular attractions at the Zoo are the tigers, the leopards, the orangutans, and the giant anteater. You’ll notice that predators, especially tigers and leopards, are kept in smaller enclosures than their prey. This is because the animals are naturally aggressive and likely to injure or even kill each other if they’re not kept apart.
You may wonder what happens to all the animals that aren’t capable of being contained within a human-made environment. These animals are either released back into the wild or adopted into a sanctuary where they can live out the rest of their natural lives in peace.
How Many Times Has The Zoo Been Opened?
The Zoo in Austin has been around since 1896 and has had seven different sets of ownership and administration. It’s the 12th-largest zoo in the United States and the second-largest one in Texas. The original owners opened the zoo with the goal of creating an attraction that would bring in revenue. Over the years, the Zoo has evolved to become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Austin. It’s pretty common for zoos to have a “season” during which they’re open and closed, depending on the time of year and whether or not it’s the breeding season for the animals.
How Is The Zoo Funded?
The primary way that the Zoo in Austin gets its money is through paid admissions. Like many zoos across the country, the animals are a major attraction, but the Zoo doesn’t just focus on cuddly creatures. It is, in fact, home to over 250 different species, including some pretty cool reptiles, so visitors are sure to find something that interests them.
There is also an effort to bring in revenue through the sale of merchandise, with T-shirts, tank tops, and hats all available for purchase at the entrance. Additionally, the Zoo offers a discount card that allows students, seniors, and military personnel to enter for free. Members of these groups also get in free during the off-season. The Zoo in Austin is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday; and 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday. These hours may vary seasonably and/or based on site availability.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit The Zoo?
A single adult ticket to visit the Zoo in Austin costs $36.95, while a senior, student, or military ID card gets you in for free. Children ages 3 and under are free.
Visiting the zoo isn’t inexpensive, but it’s not as bad as you might think. For example, it would cost you about $150 per day to stay at a decent hotel in the area, depending on the season. That’s a lot of money for just one night’s lodging! You’re definitely getting your money’s worth with a day at the zoo, though.
Should You Visit The Zoo In Summer Or Winter?
The best time to visit the Zoo in Austin is during the warmer months. The summers are hot and humid, which isn’t good for the animals’ mental health. They may also be escaping the heat by seeking shelter in the shade. This is why most zoos have morning hours designated for visitors during the summer. The best time to see the animals is early in the morning or at night, when the temperatures are cooler and the lighting is better.
The winter may also be a good time to visit the Zoo, but only if you bring some warm clothes. The weather isn’t the only factor to take into consideration either. The seasons in Texas can be unpredictable, which means that the animals may be experiencing some behavioral issues that make them harder to deal with. If possible, visit the zoo in the spring or fall, when the days are longer and milder.
Should You Visit The Zoo During The Offseason?
If your main goal is to see the animals without having to spend a lot of money, the best time to visit the Zoo is during the offseason. The official offseason for the zoo starts in April and ends in September. During these months, the staff at the Zoo works on maintaining and improving the animals’ environments, leading to fewer animal-related accidents and injuries. The off-season at the Zoo also means there aren’t as many people around, which in turn makes it easier to get a good look at the creatures and their behaviors.
You may wonder if it’s worth going to the zoo during the offseason. After all, they may not be open to the public. The answer is yes, it is! You’ll still be able to go in and take a look at the animals, but you’ll have to do so without the perks that pop-up businesses offer in the summertime. For example, it’s still possible to buy a Zoo pass and get in for free during off-season hours. Additionally, the animals don’t have to be housed in their “natural” habitats during the off-season, so it’s easier for the keepers to monitor their behavior.
Going to the zoo in the winter isn’t a bad idea, as long as you’re prepared for the weather. Some of the animals may be hibernating, which means they’re not doing very much aside from sleeping. That can make them harder to engage with, as they’re not up for anything other than chilling. If you must go in the winter, make sure to bring some warm clothes and plenty of blankets. Remember: animals are cold-blooded, which means they depend on their environments to regulate their body temperature. One of the best ways to ensure your visit is both fun and memorable is to bundle up with mittens, a scarf, and a beanie. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the animals are often very affectionate and can provide some great photo opportunities. These photos will make great wedding or anniversary presents.