Frank Buck Zoo, Gainesville

The Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, just south of the Red River, makes a terrific day trip from DFW, or a fun place to stop and stretch your legs if you should be heading in or out of Texas along I-35.  Of course, no one actually LEAVES Texas, do they?

Just kidding. We first visited the Frank Buck Zoo on our way home from a weekend in Turner Fall in Oklahoma.  We enjoyed it so much that we made a point to stop each summer on our way back from our annual trip.  However, after a few years, we realized that there is so much to do at the zoo, Leonard Park and in Gainesville, that it’s now an annual daytrip that we look forward to all year!

Check out my Mommy Tips for making the most of your day at the Frank Buck Zoo.



1.   Know Before You Go

The Frank Buck Zoo is a smaller zoo, and you can see all the animals in about 1-2 hours, depending on how much time you spend at each exhibit.

Because of it’s smaller size, the only restrooms are located at the entrance.

The zoo does not sell food, except prepackaged items and bottle drinks in the gift shop.

The zoo gives you a wristband to unlimited entry during the day into the park, so you can have lunch in the adjacent (and amazing) playground, and then make another trip through the zoo.




3.  Boardwalk

One of the features that really makes Frank Buck Zoo unique is the boardwalk which takes you above the animals, including the giraffes, zebras, Arabian camel, tortoise, Ibex and more!  We always enjoy stopping at the covered viewing area, enjoying a small snack we packed, and just watching the animals as they graze and play in the big, open area.

During the summer, we always do the boardwalk first, since it’s not covered and becomes hot.  Don’t forget to take water!


4. Chilean Flamingos 

The zoo has a mix of 4 Chilean Flamingos and 4 Carribean Flamingos.  During breeding season each Spring is a great time to watch their courtship rituals, when both the males and the females exhibit flagging, swiveling their head side to side, and wing saluting, to attract a mate.


5.  Leopard Tortoise

Meet Skippy, the zoo’s Leopard Tortoise, and something of a football prognosticator, as in a last moment decision, he choose the Ravens to win the 2013 Super Bowl! Click HERE to see this cute youtube video.


6.  Children’s Barnyard

Bring quarters to purchase food for the hungry goats, then sit back and enjoy the shaded benches while the kids feed them!


7.  Enjoy the rest of the animals

There are plenty more animals including a camel, 2 bears, a new alligator exhibit, a clouded leopard, guineas, lemurs, a gray wolf, a red fox and more!


8.  New Attraction

The zoo is busy making a new exhibit.  Follow them on facebook to find out what is going behind the bamboo fence!  Click HERE to visit their facebook page.


9.   Special Events

The zoo has lots of special events, including Stroller Safaris on Wednesday mornings, summer camps, Jr. Zoo Crew teen volunteers (ages 14- 18), Zoo Snooze for scouts and groups, birthday parties, school field trips and annual events like Zoo Boo, Eggstravaganza and Zoobilee!

Zoobilee offers original artwork by the zoo’s animals for auction.


10.  Make a Day of it! 

After a fun morning in the zoo, let the kids run around at Leonard Park’s amazing playground, take a ride on the Frank E. Schmitz Express Miniature Train or cool off at the Leonard Park Pool!

Click HERE to read more of my Mommy Tips for making the most of your day at Leonard Park!

Frank Buck Zoo

1000 E. California St. Gainesville

(940) 668-4533

Click HERE to visit their website. 


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