Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, Austin
Located on the West side of Austin, the Austin Zoo is an animal rescue sanctuary that is open to the public. It doesn’t receive state or federal funding and all money comes from donations and admissions. Unlike most zoos, the animals all have histories and stories before coming to the zoo, and it’s amazing to see so many unique and exotic animals, from Bengal Tigers to Binturongs, that have found their forever home here in the Texas Hill Country! Plan your visit and check out my Mommy Tips before you go!
The First Things we wanted to see were the Wolves. When we arrived they were each eating a deer leg. The deer had been hit by a car, and given to the zoo by a Game Warden. A keeper was watching and while it wasn’t a scheduled time, she was wonderful about answering our questions and telling us a little about the 5 sisters.
Just an FYI, if you hit a deer with a car, it is illegal to take the animal.
They also have wolf-hybrids, which are usually a mix with a wolf and a German Shepherd or Husky. It rocked my world a little to see an animal that was part Husky in a zoo enclosure. Our little pup Dublin is part Husky, and I just couldn’t imagine her in there, she usually feels disgruntled if I take up too much blanket, at night. But I was told that because they are hybrids, they are even more unpredictable than a wolf or dog. They had not been raised as dogs, and weren’t your normal pets. It made me so thankful that there is a place to like the Austin Zoo to take in these animals instead of being sent to another owner.
The Primates Habitats
The zoo has several monkeys, marmoset and lemurs. The lemurs were fun to watch. I love that the zoo post the animals names, it just makes you feel a little closer to them.
I loved seeing the big tortoises in the Tortoise Barn. It’s a shame that these beautiful animals, which can live a hundred years, are so popular in the pet trade. Many end up in turtle and tortoise rescues.
Keeper Talks are each day at 12:30pm.
For more information on Tortoise rescues, click HERE to visit the Central Texas Tortoise Rescue’s facebook page.
Reptiles & Amphibians
Snakes and many lizards are kept in the Reptile building.
Don’t miss seeing Rene the Alligator. He was out while they were cleaning his enclosure during our visit, but we’ll catch him next time!
Get a schedule and try to make as many of the Keeper Talks as possible, they truly enrich your visit to the zoo.
Slow down and watch the animals. Each has a unique personality and you never know what they will do next!
Ask about the storytime before you visit.
But the animals I most enjoyed were the cougars! We arrived in time to watch as keepers were climbing trees to hang and hide deer ribs (I love that they were using all the deer). Then the cougars were let out to hunt down and find their treat. It was exciting to watch as they did it!
The cougars came to the zoo as cubs, who had been orphaned.
We purchased a bag of food for the petting zoo.
Hold tight to your food, this beauty grabbed the bag right out of my daughter’s hand!
I love that there are peacocks all over the zoo! There are also chickens and guinea fowl allowed to roam throughout! The peacocks reminded me of the Lufkin Zoo, and the guinea fowl of the Abilene Zoo, which has several running around!
Common in the bird family, the beautiful peacocks with colorful tails are males. Females, called peahens, are smaller and less colorful!
The Zoo Train
The train at the Austin Zoo is a favorite of ours. It’s just a fun ride! My husband, who had to stay home and work, enjoys it so much that we facetimed him during our ride, so he could “be” with us!
During the ride, we pass many unique things, like these dinosaurs grazing beside the tracks!
There was also this cute Mushroom Village.
This is proof that people from all over come to the Austin Zoo!
We also saw some animals while on the ride! Say hello to 2 of the AZ’s 4 male ostrich! They were surrendered to the zoo by an Ostrich Ranch.
Did you know that Texas is actually home to dozens of ostrich ranches, and just like a cattle ranch, the animals are raised to be processed for meat. We’re glad these 4 guys came here, instead.
In the 1990’s, ostrich and emu meat was touted as a replacement to beef, and hundreds of emu ranches popped up across the state. As the birds multiplied but buyers did not, thousands of the birds were either destroyed, surrenders or released to the wild when owners could no longer afford to feed them. We would find them running across our road and woke up one morning to about 20 in our yard, and our dogs refused to go outside!
Open food and drinks are not allowed on the train. My daughter had just purchased a HUGE snowcone, and they had a freezer that they put it in to hold for us until after our ride. But to avoid slowing down the train, and making the other riders wait while they put up your snowcone, finish your food and drinks before getting in line. As I always say, most of my tips on here come from our mistakes!
The Gift Shop sells cute souvenirs of your visit!
Know Before You Go
The walks are all crushed granite, so bring a wagon or stroller and close-toed shoes are recommended.
The AZ accepts credit cards, but you’ll want to bring a little cash, too.
Check Groupon before you go! AZ usually has a Groupon to help you save some money on your visit. Click HERE to go to Groupon.
Outside food and drinks are allowed. No alcohol or glass.
There are numerous picnic tables at the zoo for a picnic.
During the summer, visit earlier in the day when the animals are more active.
Click HERE to check out the AZ’s facebook page for their weekly feature on Native Animals you can see at the zoo!
Things to do in Austin
My daughter describes The Museum of the Weird as the Mystery Shack on the cartoon, Gravity Falls. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, ask your kids. But it’s fun in a weird way! Click HERE to read more.
The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood is a must-visit! Click HERE to read more.
My kids love the pool at the Sonesta Bee Cave Hotel. Click HERE to visit their website.
10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin
Click HERE to visit their website.
Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!
Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun is on PINTEREST! Use it as a quick resource to find activities in different Texas towns! Click HERE!
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