One of the great treasures of Waco is the Cameron Park Zoo. As my readers know, I am blessed with a 20-month-old grandson, John Railroad Webb Wissinger, and he loves to make tracks. The zoo is an excellent place for him to do so. We went this past weekend and we went last month, and he had a blast, cold notwithstanding.
Please note that all photographs are mine.
The zoo is set within 52 wooded acres between Fourth Street and the Brazos River next to the 416-acre Cameron Park. It is a cheap way to spend time with your family and get some great exercise, as well as remind your children that the world is much more interesting than just dogs, cats, and people. Adults are $9 and children aged 4 to 12 are $6, with discounts available to seniors, military, and bargain shoppers willing to search for coupons.
Waco has had a zoo since 1955, but in the 1980’s the city decided to move and enlarge the facilities, using part of Cameron Park. The current incarnation of the zoo opened its doors in 1993, and it has been enhanced many times. The basic layout is circular, with three “parallel” concentric paths as soon as the visitor gets away from the entrance. It houses over two hundred species in exhibits separated by stands of “natural” habitat. The zoo has the traditional zoo animals, of course: please see Cyndi Wheeler’s post More from the Zoo Files. But it also has a number of local Texan animals, for example, the Pumas (see above). In fact, the section called “the Brazos River Country” added in 2005, features nearly 100 Texas species in various Texan habitats including a large swamp land, and a 190,000 liter saltwater reef aquarium.
Other sections of the zoo include species from around the world: the Galapagos Islands, South America, the savannahs of Africa, the jungles of Asia. In the center is a large lake with islands housing the lemurs and gibbons. Wandering past, there are a number of bird exhibits and the tortoises. More birds and some Rodents of Unusual Size (RUS): Capabaras and Agouti. And here and there, are streams and lakes … my grandson especially enjoyed looking at the black swans.
At this point you can detour into the Brazos Country region, which ends with the Otters. My family is contrary enough that we do it backwards, since clearly we otter see the otters first. I am still looking for a Margay Cat or Jaguarundi — they are listed in the cats enclosure, but seem to be as hard to find in the zoo as they are in the wilds of Texas. I suppose we shall just have to read about them in the pages of the upcoming February 2012 Bohemia Journal. The aquarium is there in Brazos Country and later the herpetarium, also the barn with the bats.
Of course, we then have to see the big animals of Africa. The first two animals seen are a Kori Bustard (above) and a small antelope called the Dik Dik. Then the giraffes, rhinos, lions, elephants … all of the traditional African zoo animals. Finally, in the Asian Forest section, we saw several Sumatran tigers, walked past where they have three Orang-utans, and reached the top to stare at the Komodo dragon. Fortunately, my grandson is too young to ask why the dragon does not breath fire.
As I said, it was a great way to spend time with my family. I highly recommend it.