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.
On this extraordinary night, Conspirare will be joined by a period-instrument orchestra from the Victoria Bach Festival for a historically authentic rendition of one of Bach's final masterpieces. The performance will highlight the talented choir's ability to deftly maneuver through Bach's complex and intriguing waves of composition. Conspirare's meticulous approach to perfection will be demonstrated throughout the entire show with superb control and dexterity as a whole, as well as soloist performances from ensemble members. Mass in B Minor is a four-part Latin Mass that reflects the brilliance and life work of Johann Sebastian Bach, and is considered an epic opus of the late Baroque period. A pre-concert talk by Margaret Perry of the Austin Lyric Opera will be held at 6 p.m.
Indulge Wine School's staff of educators, such as Kris in Jacksonville, a wine expert and blogger, expands wine knowledge with ease, having turned the revelry-steeped tassels of nearly 3,000 graduates. Classes of 12–20 take place in venues throughout the United States, as students swirl and sip their study materials and nibble complimentary appetizers. Every class ends with a Q&A session, during which potation professors shine a light on oenophilic mysteries including tannin content and regional differences. Afterward, students continue to ferment knowledge at home with a complimentary electronic copy of Indulge's book A Fun and Informative Introduction to the Wonderful World of Wine, a food-and-wine-pairing chart, and a top-10 list of wine-buying tips.
Texas hills unfurl before Wimberley Valley Winery, gently guiding guests to the winery’s stock of wines. Since 1983, the winery’s resident winemaker has created a range of classic varietal wines in addition to offering wines from around the world. While the winemakers weave their magic in the cellar, the remainder of the winery’s staff entertains customers in the elegant tasting room. Here, an expansive stone fireplace steals the attention from sunny yellow walls, and granite counters hide bottle after bottle of wines waiting to be sampled. While tasters sink into cushy leather couches, the staff explains the flavor profiles of wine types and divulge tips for pairing wine with the right food or crazy straws.
Steve Busti wasn't like the other children in his classroom. While his peers were playing tag and collecting baseball cards, Steve was poring over books on Bermuda Triangle theories and UFOs. He frequented dime museums and sideshow carnivals, fascinated by the strange creatures and characters therein. As Steve grew older, he began to build a collection of oddities—trinkets he picked up from sideshows, props from movie sets, and curiosities he stumbled upon. So when he realized there was plenty of extra room in the back of the novelty shop he owned with his wife, Steve was inspired to open a museum—a shrine to all things odd, unnatural, and eerie.
Today, the Museum of the Weird is a treasure trove of peculiar exhibits, lauded by reporters from The Austin Chronicle as "a remarkable collision of genre film ephemera." Steve's giant pet lizards scuttle about the space, surprising guests who are busy examining bigfoot exhibits or trying to shake an uncomfortable feeling that they recognize one of the shrunken heads. The entire scene is watched over by lifelike wax figures of Dracula and The Wolf Man, as well as a glowering bust of King Kong. After visits, guests pop into Steve and his wife Veronica's shop—Lucky Lizards Curios & Gifts—to peruse an equally unusual collection of action figures, vintage items, and locally made wares.