The San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium has more than 3,500 animals in a variety of realistically themed exhibits. A family membership gives two adults and their kids or grandkids unlimited, express member entry to the zoo for 365 successive days. Tour the African plains and visit the ostriches, antelopes, and baby-lugging Marabou storks as they gather around the water hole to demonstrate the newest Kindle, or brave the tropical mysteries of Amazonia in search of an anteater, macaws, and the giant Andean condor. Membership also includes discounts on programs, special events, gift-shop and concession-stand goodies, and free or discounted access to a lengthy list of zoos and aquariums across the country.
Austin Zoo originated as Good Day Ranch in 1990 featuring pony rides and goat-milking demonstrations. Over the next four years, the founders began rescuing exotic animals and evolving into a rescue center, renaming the facility under its current moniker. After becoming a safe haven for more than 300 rescued animals of more than 100 different species, the Austin Zoo began the process of becoming a nonprofit organization, which it completed in 2000. Housed in native Texas Hill Country enclosures, the animals can enjoy real grass and landscaping instead of concrete exhibits or studio apartments. African lions and Bengal tigers stretch out in the big cat habitats while colobus monkeys and a marmoset swing from tree to tree in monkey areas. In addition to wild creatures, the zoo houses domesticated animals such as a miniature donkey, potbellied pigs, and llamas.
In the pens at Fiesta Farm, light scattered by the branches of tall trees warms a menagerie of mild-mannered pets. Youngsters cautiously reach out to touch the wooly ears of a llama or venture into the enclosure to laugh at the guttural babble of potbellied pigs. On the 15-acre ranch, Laredo, a bay-quarter horse, waits patiently to nuzzle guests or provide rides, and bunnies, an emu, and sheep compete for attention across the wooded landscape. Before and after visits, a shaded picnic area hosts pleasantly exhausted visitors, and the farm's barn is equipped with fans and heaters for the comfort of guests and to keep prima-donna billy goats from freezing their perms off in the wintertime.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium boasts three floors of interactive exhibits featuring rare and bizarre artifacts inspired by the oddball collection of worldwide explorer Robert Ripley. Get a glimpse into the world of weird with astonishing and outlandish displays including a piece of the Berlin Wall, the world's largest tire, replicas of prehistoric beasts, Lee Harvey Oswald's car, and iconic items of American and world history. The museum is open seven American standard days a week.
More than 500 exotic animals prowl, scamper, and crawl through their expansively recreated habitats at Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo. One of the rarest and most beautiful of all the animals is on display in the Ghosts of the Jungle presentation. There, two white lion cubs, some of a very small number in the world tumble and play. They're not albinos, but uniquely pigmented animals first seen in the Timbavati region in 1938, and they have beautifully colored eyes that flit intelligently around their space.
There's plenty else to see there, as well. Guests quake with curiosity as they watch the alligator and crocodile ponds. Patrons can interact with cuddlier critters at the petting zoo, where dozens of fluffy goats, alpacas, and llamas gather to tie-dye their coats. Elsewhere, cackles of hyenas reverberate throughout the grounds, spurring a pack of wolves to emit a more introspective sound by baying at the moon. Wizened tortoises bask in a field of lettuce and racing trophies as a duo of ring-tailed lemurs relax in their environment.