Texas Drive-Through Animal Parks

From the shade of the century-old tree, the wildebeest yawns and eyes a small herd of springbok ,on their way to the watering hole. Nearby, a lanky ostrich saunters across the field, a few wide paces away from a dusty zebra. It's a scene witnessed by a family from the comfort of their vehicle, a group enjoying a day long safari- - Texas style.

In the Lone Star State, you'll find several excellent wildlife parks that offer the opportunity for your family to view exotic animals in a natural setting, away from the cages and confinement of a zoo. Here the animals exhibit natural behaviors, relating to fellow herd members, teaching their young, and acting similarly to what you'd see in the wild.

New Braunfels

One of the largest drive-through animal parks in Texas is the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, located next to the caverns of the same name. About half an hour north of San Antonio, the park is located west of I-35 near New Braunfels. This ranch features both native and exotic animals, ranging from some very pushy ostriches to excited zebras. You'll receive a bucket of food when you arrive to feed the animals, who come right up to the car (and inside the vehicle if you leave your window too far down!) After the drive, enjoy a look around the petting area, which includes some cute critters like pygmy goats then shop for wildlife-related souvenirs in the gift shop.

San Marcos

If your children enjoy petting zoos, then don't miss the largest one in Texas, located at San Marcos's Wonder World. Just north of San Antonio on I-35, this park is best known for its cave, created by an earthquake about 30 million years ago. There's plenty of action above ground as well, though, at the 7-1/2 acre Texas Wildlife Park. Kids and parents can all hop aboard a miniature train for a ride through the animal enclosure. Along the way, the train stops to allow riders to pet and feed tame white-tailed deer, turkeys, and many exotic species.

Glen Rose

One of the most important drive- through wildlife parks is Texas is Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, 3,000 acres of privately owned land located in Glen Rose, southwest of Fort Worth. This conservation center a 3,000-acre privately-owned conservation center located in Glen Rose, southwest of Fort Worth which combines entertainment with education and scientific research. Visitors enjoy a nine-mile drive through the ranch, feeding animals along the way. This drive winds through four areas, each containing free-roaming animal populations moving in herds. You'll probably see sable antelope, Grevy's zebra, oryx, and greater kudu, as well as gazelle and ostrich. The highlight for many is a chance to feed the reticulated giraffes, shy, silent giants that tower nearly as high as the oak trees.

Back to Texas for Families

photo courtesy Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch


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