More than 500 animals inhabit the grounds at Capital of Texas Zoo, a haven for wildlife education and a breeding ground for more than 14 endangered species. The zoo's residents include zebras, ringtail lemurs, and a rare white tiger, not to be confused with a ghost tiger. Other appearances from the animal kingdom include peacocks, kangaroos, turtles, and lions.
Educational animal shows highlight a specific member of the zoo, such as the Wings show, which stars eurasian eagle owl Hedwig, who has made appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and in the movie Furry Vengeance. The zoo also takes to the road with traveling animal shows that involve a cast of six exotic reptiles, mammals, and birds, which makes appearances at birthday parties, schools, or events. With lessons catered to the age of the audience, the animals teach children to respect other living things and remind adults why they can’t keep falcons as pets.
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.
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.
In 1906 the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company was created to distribute the smooth, bubbly taste known as Dr Pepper. Today, that building still stands and is dedicated to a similar mission: to teach the world about the history of the iconic soda, a vision realized by a few devoted enthusiasts. The building became the Dr Pepper Museum in 1989, then the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in 1997. Today, it is a tribute to the imagination and talent that fueled the soft drink's success throughout the years.
Country Critters Farm isn't really a farm in the traditional sense: it's a petting zoo that's home to ponies, cows, goats, chickens, and a menagerie of other amiable creatures. Open on Saturday and Sunday—and weekdays by reservation—the farm is filled with nine rustic, kid-friendly activities that range from pony rides and hayrides to a playground and bounce houses. Though they welcome school field trips and onsite birthday parties, the staff can also load up their Big Red Barn—a mobile petting-zoo trailer—and bring their cuddly residents to birthday parties and other events.
Beginning atop a 20-story cliff, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures's final zipline carries riders above Lake Travis for more than 2,500 feet at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. To reach the cliff, a pair of professionally trained guides lead 2.5-3 hour hikes through Texas Hill Country, affording panoramic views of Lake Travis along the way. Before the finale over the lake, groups stop at four other ziplines that snake through canyons and soar above inlets.
Back on land, the company reserves more than 10 acres of Lake Travis shore for post-tour picnics and beach games. For guests embarking on a nighttime zipline tour or looking to linger in central Texas, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures rents out private cabins. Accommodations include a front porch overlooking the lake, as well as access to two private beaches.