At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
On Aquaponics and Earth’s sustainable farm, tilapia pools teeming with fish come up against rows of organic plants, which they hydrate via the farm’s energy-efficient growing and waste-recycling system. Founders and aqua-farmers John and Teresa Musser began experimenting with high-yield aquaponics in response to the crushing poverty they saw abroad and invented much of the equipment and methods they use in the search for a sustainable, affordable system they could share with the world. The Mussers have worked around the globe in orphanages and small villages since 1979 but began shifting their focus to infrastructure and education work to bring easy-to-learn agricultural techniques to impoverished areas.
The Mussers maintain their DeSoto farm not only to grow food, but to act as an educational resource for people who want to observe their methods and build their own aquaponics systems. Their organic microfarm, populated by rabbits, goats, microcows, and vermicomposting bins, harvests hundreds of pounds of produce each year on minimal substrate. Inspired by their frantic efforts one year to absorb a surplus of produce, the Mussers lead regular canning classes where students learn the proper ways to can seasonal veggies, meats, and blown kisses.
Since releasing its self-produced EP in 2007, LA-based Hyper Crush has fueled dance floors around the world with in-your-face lyrics set to energetic hip-hop and electro beats. The trio spins party-ready pulses against flashy light shows that get feet moving faster than The Flash running on a treadmill. Hits such as "Kick Us Out," "Flip the Switch," and "Keep Up" kick-start a high-speed chase of lyrics that embrace nightlife, dance moves, and courtship from a modern perspective. Audiences will enjoy ample space for grooving in the newly remodeled Zouk nightclub, a self-proclaimed adult playground boasting a state-of-the-art sound system, four full-service bars, and a slide papered with Sudoku puzzles. Outfitted in retro-glam décor, including smoked mirrors and velvet walls, the club insists on patrons dressed to the nines, urging them to don proper club attire, such as heels, dresses, or collared shirts, in order to get inside.
Havana Social Club caters to smoke-savvy shoppers with a wide selection of fine cigars within an intimate, elegant lounge. Globe-traveling smokers can inhale their way through Latin America with rare stogies from Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, browsing high-end brands such as Ashton, Padron, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and Arturo Fuente ($10–$30) in search of the perfect tobacco tube. An in-house Cuban master cigar roller whips up fresh custom blends, and the knowledgeable staff aids puff-happy patrons in procuring their ideal smokable. Havana Social Club's Cuban lounge atmosphere encourages exhalation celebrations, and is peppered with leather-upholstered armchairs, dark wooden accents, private humidor lockers, and No Smoking signs.
At noon every day, a new flock of butterflies is released into the butterfly house at Texas Discovery Gardens, opening their colorful wings for the first time among the lush vegetation. Counted among their number are elegant species such as the monarch and the blue morpho, while an outdoor nursery attracts native butterflies with nectar-rich plants and attractive butterfly buffets. This is just one of the ten themed areas on the 7.5-acre estate, which brims with vibrant collections of plants collected from around the world and is maintained using sustainable, organic methods. The newly renovated Tribute Garden invites visitors to relax in the shade next to a bubbling fountain, and the Master Gardeners' Garden demonstrates landscaping practices that are both attractive and environmentally friendly.
The organization also offers education and outreach programs for children to teach them about life cycles and natural landscapes, as well as increase their understanding and appreciation for nature. Visitors can also attend festivals including the Butterflies and Bugs Family Festival on August 3, as well as special programing such as Sunrise Pilates and guided nature walks.