During our recent trip to Austin, TX, we went to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary. The outing was perfect for my animal-loving three-year-old!
I’ve written about visiting the North Carolina Zoo and I mentioned that I’m always somewhat worried about the ethics of keeping animals in a zoo. What’s really amazing about this zoo in Austin is that all the animals have been rescued and the organization is committed to helping animals through rehabilitation and community education. They have many ways to get involved including volunteering and donating.
The zoo actually started as just a goat ranch, nestled in the twisting back roads of the Texas Hill Country. In 1990, the owners began accepting more animals who had been injured or were in need of special care. Today they care for approximately 300 animals who were in danger. Many of these animals came from “roadside zoos,” private individuals who had bought exotic “pets,” and larger zoos that retired older animals.
It’s not a huge zoo, but it’s a great size for younger children. There is a diverse selection of wildlife and the zoo’s website has a handy Meet The Animals section so visitors can prepare for their visit. There are Large Cats, Monkeys, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Mammals, and Domestic Animals such as goats and llamas. Visitors can buy a small bag of feed for the goats. Goats are very friendly with their visitors!
My son is typically quite shy and cautious, but he came alive as soon as we arrived at the zoo and he saw the Lemurs. He grabbed his uncle’s hand and they walked down the rocky path to see all the animals.
He just turned three and he’s not much of a talker so I’m always looking for ways to get him to communicate more. One way is through his love of animals. He knows the names of most animals you can think of and he’s starting to develop small sentences to talk about them like “Shh, fox is sleeping” or “Jaguar is up high.” Looking back at the photos helps him to remember and recount the story of his trip. (Yes, he’s sitting on my lap as I type this and yes, he’s talking about the zoo trip!)
The vivid colors and textures of the animals are amazing in the dusty Texas landscape.
I’m planning to actually print out some of the photos so my son can do some animal identification.
Now, what animal is this? (Hint: think Galapagos)
Have you been to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary? We really enjoyed our trip!
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